In another first, Lamar’s football team spent the night away from home Friday in preparation for today’s MSHSAA Class 2 semifinal game at Maplewood-Richmond Heights.
The game will be played at Moss Field at Hickson Middle School, the same field where Webster Groves plays its home games.
The semifinal appearance is the second in a row for Lamar — and the second in school history. Lamar (9-3) fell to eventual state champion Maryville 21-7 last year.
“Tomorrow (Saturday), we will have played four months of football like we did last year,” head coach Scott Bailey said. “We want to play four months and one week of football.”
In order to do so, Lamar will need to find a way around Maplewood-Richmond Heights (13-0), ranked No. 1 in Class 2 by the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
The Blue Devils advanced to the semifinals in 2007 and 2008 but have never played for a state football championship.
“These kids were sophomores when we went to the semifinals (in 2008),” head coach Brandon Gregory told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “They know what it feels like to be 12-0, 13-0 and they know how it feels to be in the semifinals. They have remained focused and humble because the only thing they haven’t done is go to state and win it.”
Gregory, in his first season as head coach, guided Maplewood back into the playoffs after a 10-7 loss in 2009 to state runner-up Brentwood in the second round.
Maplewood won the Class 2 state track meet last spring, and it shows when Bailey sees video of the Blue Devils in action.
“Their formations are similar to Mountain View-Liberty,” Bailey said of Lamar’s quarterfinal opponent. “With the running backs they have, it’s Cassville-type speed. The longer we can keep the ball on offense, the better.
“We’re like every other team that’s still playing. I don’t think any team playing right now is completely healthy,” said Bailey, “but we’ll have everybody suited up and ready to play.”
Take Interstate 44 east to Webster Groves, then take the S. Elm Avenue exit near mile marker 280 and turn right (south). The stadium is about one block south on Elm.