Meeting the Ladue Rams late in the season has become a regular occurrence for the Webb City Cardinals.
This year is no different, as a familiar foe awaits once again.
Webb City hosts Ladue at 1 p.m. this afternoon in a Class 4 semifinal at Cardinal Stadium.
Today’s winner advances to next Friday’s Show-Me Bowl in Columbia against either St. Mary’s or Platte County.
It’s the third consecutive season these two programs are meeting late in the postseason, as the Cardinals beat the Rams 14-0 in the 2017 state title game before Ladue edged Webb City 17-13 in last year’s semifinals.
“We've played them in a title game and the semifinals, and here we are again,” Webb City coach John Roderique said. “I guess playing them is a necessary evil. But we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to play in this game again. It’s a different place for us because now we’re facing a defending state champion.”
Both 12-1 on the season, the Cardinals and Rams are ranked first and third, respectively, by the Missouri Media and MaxPreps. In last week’s quarterfinals, Webb City hammered No. 2 Camdenton 62-34, while Ladue rolled past Liberty-Wentzville 47-0.
Webb City is in the semifinal round for the 18th time in Roderique’s 23 years at the helm. Ladue, one of two defending state champions still alive in the postseason, is in the final four for the fourth straight season.
“They have a talented team,” Roderique said. “They’re well-coached and their kids play extremely hard. It will be a great challenge for us on both sides of the ball.”
Ladue’s lone loss this fall came to Kirkwood (36-35) in Week 9. That’s the same Kirkwood team that lost to Joplin 69-48 in the Class 6 district semifinals.
Utilizing multiple formations, Ladue’s balanced offensive attack is scoring 40 points per contest.
“They give you a lot to defend and you have to take something away,” Roderique said. “And that’s not an easy task. Their quarterback can throw it and they make a lot of big plays. When you watch them on film, you see tons of speed.”
Ladue senior quarterback Henry McIntosh has passed for 2,240 yards and 28 touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Marzion Cosby has recorded 509 receiving yards and has scored 13 total touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Mason Player has compiled 574 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Leading rushers are sophomore Jared Rhodes (580 yards, 10 TD) and senior Gideon Boaten (438 yards, 7TD). Junior linebacker Ethan Deutsch (61) and senior linebacker Brock Jones (58) are leaders in tackles.
Ladue’s defense is allowing just nine points per game. The Rams have only allowed double figures three times this season.
“They’re extremely fast on defense and they’re physical up front,” Roderique said. “They’ve been a great defensive team the last several years. They're very good and very stout. And they have guys that fly around and chase the ball.”
The Cardinals are scoring 44 points per game and allowing just 12. Webb City's split-back veer offense averages 308 rushing and 95 passing yards per game.
Junior Devrin Weathers has rushed for 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns, while senior Terrell Kabala has ran for 938 yards and 19 scores. Senior quarterback Kade Hicks has rushed for 672 yards and passed for 582. Senior Cale McCallister (343 yards) and junior Mekhi Garrard (347) are leading receivers.
A year ago, the Cardinals weren't healthy for the contest. The hosts will be at full-strength today.
“We’ve got three guys that we primarily play in the backfield and they’re all healthy,” Roderique said. “We feel good about that.”
Defensive leaders for the Cardinals include Sergio Perez (86 tackles), Treghan Parker (78), Ruben Lenker (74), Trenten Thompson (68) and Brayden Bond (56). Bond has seven sacks, while Matt McDaniel has 6.5.
Roderique noted the keys to victory are simple.
“Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes and turnovers will probably win the game,” Roderique said. “We have to limit their big plays. It will come down to how the guys up front do.”