By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
The No. 1-seeded Webb City football team moved past No. 8 West Plains 45-7 on Thursday night in the first round of the MSHSAA Class 4 District 4 Tournament.
The Cardinals had unreal field position in scoring 38 points in the opening quarter in windy, chilly Cardinal Stadium.
Republic, a 27-19 winner against McDonald County, visits the Cardinals on Wednesday night in the district semifinals.
The two-time defending state champion Cardinals will take a 40-game winning streak into the 7 p.m. contest.
Phoenix Johnson ran for two touchdowns and quarterback John Roderique threw for two scores to highlight the offense for Webb City in the first period.
“We played very well on both sides of the ball,” Webb City coach John Roderique said. “The specialty teams were very good. It was a dominant effort. The players came out fired up.”
Said West Plains coach Steve Ary: “We knew they would be quick and strong. They executed very well. They’re very good.”
Said Cardinal defensive back Logan Williams: “We were focused and ready to play. Our coaches keep saying: ‘Stay focused and play better each week.’ ”
Johnson opened the scoring with a 3-yard run to cap a five-play, 61-yard drive that included his 31-yard run and a 20-yarder by Cooper Smith.
Alex Easley, who also kicked a 37-yard field goal in the first period, followed with the first of six extra points.
Roderique then hit Cooper Strasser with a 7-yard scoring pass, Johnson scored on a 48-yard run, Roderique threw 30 yards to Kohl Slaughter and, after Easley’s field goal, Kyle Baldasarre scored on a 9-yard run.
Said an elated tight end Strasser: “I think it was my fourth catch of the season. It was my first touchdown.”
The respective series for the TDs after the opening series were two plays for 35 yards, 3-55, 2-50 and 2-22.
West Plains, in the first quarter, started at its 14, 11, 11, 22 and 24. Plus, the Zizzers failed to cover one punt and another was muffed.
Johnson, who finished with five carries for 145 yards, keyed a 392-yard effort on the ground. Smith added 97 on four carries and Baldasarre had 55 yards on seven carries.
The Webb City defense limited the Zizzers to 65 rushing yards and 45 passing. The Cardinals passed for 55.
Smith’s 53-yard run closed out the scoring for Webb City on its first play of the second quarter.
West Plains broke through in the fourth quarter with 1:43 left on Sam Hall’s 37-yard pass to Jacob Womack.
Added Ary: “Coach Roderique showed a lot of class in this game. He took it easy after that first quarter.”