As the Webb City Cardinals walked off the field after beating Jefferson City Helias 49-14 for their third consecutive Class 4 state championship, they met the Lamar Tigers as they were about to begin warm-ups for their Class 2 state championship game.
Players and coaches from each team lined up and slapped hands. You could hear many “congratulations” offered from Lamar, and the phrases “good luck, “go get ’em,” and “bring another one back to southwest Missouri” were among the most popular from the Cardinals.
The moment was a terrific example of the mutual respect displayed by two of the best programs in the state. Lamar captured its second straight state title by going on to beat Blair Oaks 69-41 on Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Webb City and Lamar have represented southwest Missouri by combining to win five state titles over the past three years.
However, the respect between the two programs goes beyond the proximity of the schools.
Webb City coach John Roderique and Lamar coach Scott Bailey are each graduates of their respective schools and both played college football for the Pittsburg State Gorillas.
“I’ve always been good friends with Scott,” Roderique said. “We’ve always talked.”
Bailey is one year older than Roderique. Both played linebacker at Pitt State when Bailey was a sophomore and Roderique was a freshman.
“Talented guys like Roderique were one of the reasons I got fired from that linebacker spot,” Bailey said. “As the program started to bring in talented athletes like John, guys like me had to go find another position to play.”
However, Bailey made a smooth transition to tight end. Bailey earned all-MIAA honorable mention as a junior in 1987 and all-MIAA second team honors as a senior in 1988. He also received an honorable mention at linebacker as a sophomore.
Roderique isn’t buying Bailey’s assessment on why he was moved.
“We changed the scheme,” Roderique said. “I think he may have outgrown the linebacker position.”
And Roderique said he knows from experience how good Bailey was as a blocking tight end.
“We had to hook up a lot in practice with him blocking me,” Roderique said. “We did a lot of drill work. It wasn’t very much fun, because it seemed like he always got the best of me.”
Not many players from opposing teams got the best of Roderique as he earned all-MIAA honorable mention at inside linebacker as a sophomore and first team honors as a junior and senior. Roderique was named the conference’s defensive MVP in 1989. He also was an honorable mention All-American as a junior and a first team All-American as a senior.
As coaches, Bailey and Roderique can tap into their playing experiences. They also benefited from playing for an exceptional group of coaches in the late 1980s at Pitt State.
The Gorillas’ head coach at the time was Dennis Franchione, who later coached at TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M and now leads the Texas State program. Assistants over those years included current Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, current TCU coach Gary Patterson, current Pitt State coach Tim Beck, Bill Samuels, Chuck Broyles, Chuck Moller and Lynn Meredith.
“The coaching was outstanding,” Roderique said. “During my tenure as an inside linebacker, my linebackers coaches were Jerry Kill as a sophomore, Gary Patterson as a junior and Tim Beck as a senior. Boy, talk about being blessed. Those are three great position coaches, and then we had Dennis Franchione as head coach and Lynn Meredith and Chuck Broyles as defensive coordinators while I was there.”
Bailey echoed those thoughts.
“I don’t think people realize the quality of coaching we got when we were at Pitt State,” he said. “It started with Bill Samuels as an offensive line coach. He could have gone anywhere and coached big-time football, but he chose to stay.
“I’ve never been in contact with some as knowledgeable in coaching offensive linemen as Bill Samuels. I’ve never been in contact with someone as organized as Coach Franchione. I mean, to the minute. There’s nobody who can motivate a young man like Jerry Kill can. My brother Steven, who is an assistant coach, is the exact same way. He can get the kids to do things that I can’t get them to do.”
Playing under that group of coaches helped provide the framework for Roderique and Bailey when they entered the coaching profession.
“Being there at that time has had a profound influence on my career as a coach,” Roderique said. “They had such thorough preparation, and I learned how much preparation it takes.”
Roderique led the Cardinals to a state championship in his first season as head coach in 1997. He has directed Webb City to eight state titles overall and a mind-boggling record of 192-18.
Bailey took over a Tigers program that had its struggles over the years. Lamar took its lumps in his first years, but now he has helped build a program that has advanced to the state semifinals in each of the past four seasons. The Tigers are 37-7 over the past three seasons and 48-32 since Bailey became the head coach.
The mutual respect between the two coaches has remained strong over the years.
One of Bailey’s first calls he made when he was hired at Lamar was to Roderique to ask for some advice.
Roderique, meanwhile, is impressed with what Bailey has been able to accomplish.
“It’s amazing what he’s done at that school,” Roderique said. “They’ve certainly established a great tradition. He’s a very hard working guy. There’s a lot of similarities between their kids and our kids. Both communities have hard working people and we try to teach them values and to do what’s right.”