Your online home for Joplin area sports coverage.

FINISHING STRONG: Webb City advances to semifinals with win over Lebanon

 

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Throughout an up and down regular season, one that featured lopsided wins and painful losses, John Roderique continually stressed the ultimate goal for his Webb City Cardinals remained the same—be at their best when the postseason arrived.

It’s safe to say the Cardinals have accomplished that goal by peaking when it matters most. 

Webb City rode a strong second half to a 35-13 win over Lebanon in a Class 5 quarterfinal contest on Friday night at Cardinal Stadium. 

“It’s almost surreal right now to think about where we’re at and just getting an opportunity to play again,” Roderique said. “Coach (Scott) Bailey has been preaching to the kids about playing for a seven-day contract. Our kids have really bought into it. I’m just super proud of our guys. We’ve really gotten focused and zoned in the last few weeks. Our kids have been fantastic. It’s kind of come together for us here at the end of the season.”  

In a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, Webb City was clinging to a 14-13 lead at intermission.

Webb City senior Cade Wilson looks for running room during Friday’s quarterfinal clash against Lebanon. All photos by Israel Perez.

The Cardinals, on a quest to capture the program’s 16th state championship, owned the second half by outscoring the Yellowjackets 21-0. 

“It’s just a matter of continuing to do what you have to do,” Roderique said. “You’ve got to play well at the line of scrimmage. We’d get a stop and our kids would make a play. I think when our offense was able to get a score, it made our defense better.” 

The Cardinals (9-3) will host defending state champion Jackson (12-0) next Saturday in the semifinals. 

“I would have never guessed six or eight weeks ago that we’d be in this position,” Roderique said. “It’s about perseverance and continuing to work and trying to get better. I can’t say enough about our coaches and our kids. Our coaches have done a great job of getting our kids in this position. And our kids have done a great job on the field. That’s where all the credit goes.” 

It’s the fifth year in a row the Cardinals are in the semifinals. That’s not all, it’s the 13th time in 14 years Webb City has advanced to the Final Four (2008-15 and from ’17 to ’21).  

“As a Webb City football player, it just feels great to keep the train going,” said Webb City senior linebacker Cooper Crouch. 

 

GAME RECAP

In the quarterfinals for the 14th consecutive season, Webb City came up with a big defensive stop on the first series of the night by forcing a turnover on downs.

Next, the Cardinals needed just four plays to go 36 yards, as a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Dupree Jackson gave the Cardinals an early lead. A 34-yard pass from Cohl Vaden to Trey Roets set up the score.

Lebanon tied it up after a 16-play, 67-yard drive was capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Cade Muscia.

Webb City’s Trey Roets hauls in a pass against Lebanon.

Webb City went ahead on the first play of the second quarter on Dante Washington’s 7-yard scamper. Vaden’s 48-yard pass to Washington set up the score.

Lebanon’s Quinton Doughty converted a 40-yard field goal to cut Webb City’s lead to 14-10 with 8:54 left in the first half. 

Doughty added a 23-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half, trimming Webb City’s lead to 14-13.

Roderique noted holding Lebanon to field goals as opposed to touchdowns ended up big. 

“That was huge, especially in hindset,” Roderique said. 

In the second half, Lebanon turned it over on downs three times and punted once. 

Crouch, who made 11 tackles, said the Cardinals got refocused at halftime.

“We knew we had to come out and play even better,” Crouch said. “And that’s John Roderique. He’s going to find something that’s going to help us out and get us going.” 

While the Yellowjackets were unable to get going offensively, the Cardinals finished strong. 

Jackson’s 4-yard touchdown run with 1:29 remaining in the third quarter gave the hosts a 21-13 advantage.

The Cardinals added two scores in the final frame. Vaden completed a 29-yard TD pass to Washington with 10:34 to play.

After yet another defensive stop, Webb City added a final exclamation point when Vaden sprinted 37 yards to the end zone with 3:15 left on the clock. 

“We’ve developed some weapons at the receiver position,” Roderique noted. “And with our quarterback and our two running backs, it’s nice to have those options.” 

 

Webb City’s Dante Washington is pictured during Friday’s game with Lebanon. Washington scored two touchdowns in his team’s 35-13 win.

NAMES & NUMBERS

Ranked fourth in Class 5 by the Missouri Media and the lone Central Ozark Conference team still alive in the postseason, Webb City had 289 yards of offense, 158 passing and 131 rushing. 

Vaden ran 10 times for 55 yards, while Wilson had 49 yards on 11 carries. 

Vaden completed 7 of 16 passes for 158 yards. Washington caught four passes for 91 yards to lead the receiving corps. 

In addition to Crouch’s 11 tackles, Brody German made 10 stops, while Braxton Surber and Brentan Wilson added nine tackles apiece. 

Lebanon, ranked seventh, had 317 yards, 234 rushing and 83 passing. Muscia had 84 yards on 34 carries, while Jax Glendenning added 79 yards on 11 attempts. 

The Yellowjackets finish the season with a record of 10-2.

 

CLASS 5 NOTES: Jackson defeated Rockwood Summit 49-14. Next weekend’s other Class 5 semifinal will feature Holt (12-0) vs. Fort Osage (11-1). The Class 5 title game is scheduled for Dec. 3 in Columbia. 

 

CLASS 5 QUARTERFINAL

WEBB CITY 35, LEBANON 13

Lebanon      7    6   0   0—13

Webb City   7    7   7  14—35

 

SCORING SUMMARY

WC: Dupree Jackson 1 run (Dante Washington kick)

LEB: Cade Muscia 4 run (Quinton Doughty kick)

WC: Washington 7 run (Washington kick)

LEB: Doughty 40 field goal. 

LEB: Doughty 23 field goal

WC: Jackson 4 run (Washington kick)

WC: Washington 29 pass from Vaden (Washington kick)

WC: Vaden 37 run (Washington kick)

 

FULL STATS: Webb City HS (webbcitycardinals.com)

 

Webb City’s Kaylor Darnell returns a kick during Friday’s Class 5 quarterfinal against Lebanon.

 

Webb City’s McQuade Eilenstein looks to bring down Lebanon’s Peyton Mitchell.

MILESTONE: Roderique earns win No. 300 as Webb City tops Republic

 

WEBB CITY, Mo. — In a coaching career that’s featured countless accolades, John Roderique added another item to his already-impressive resume on Friday night.

The hall of fame coach of the Webb City football program, Roderique earned victory No. 300 as his Cardinals rolled past Republic 56-20 in Central Ozark Conference action inside Cardinal Stadium.

“All I can do is think about all the guys that have come through this program,” Roderique said. “And all the parents, the administration and all the teachers. And the No. 1 thing, I think about all the great coaches we’ve had in this program. I think it’s more about the program than what I did. I’m just the one who’s been the head coach. I’m just so thankful. I’m really blessed to have the guys in this program, the coaches and players, and all the support we’ve had.” 

Roderique, who has led Webb City to 12 state championships, 21 straight district titles and 10 undefeated seasons, admitted he became emotional when he was recognized with a standing ovation after the milestone victory was official. 

“I figured if I looked up in the crowd I’d start bawling like a baby so I tried not to look up too much,” Roderique said. 

Roderique’s first coaching victory at his alma mater came in Week 1 of the 1997 season, a 28-14 win over Branson. He’s now 300-29 overall.

As far as the game, Webb City used a fast start and a solid overall performance to hand Republic its first loss of the 2021 campaign. 

The Cardinals scored 28 unanswered points to start the game and held a comfortable 49-6 lead early in the second half en route to the lopsided win. 

“Our coaches did a great job getting our kids set up and prepared to play this week from an Xs and Os standpoint, but also mentally,” Roderique said. “Our defense set the tone. To be able to stop them right away, get the ball back and go to work, it couldn’t have been scripted any better for us.”

Ranked second in Class 5 by the Missouri Media, Webb City improved to 2-1 with what was clearly the team’s best showing of the season. 

“Clearly, this is the best we’ve played,” Roderique said. “We had a sense our guys were mentally ready to play. You could tell they were locked in and ready to play. It’s been a good week. We needed to see who we are. We felt like we hadn’t shown who we are yet. Hopefully this is a glimpse of the type of team we can be.” 

The hosts led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and 42-6 at intermission. 

Webb City senior running back Cade Wilson sprinted to a 39-yard touchdown run on the fifth play of Webb City’s opening drive.

Dupree Jackson’s 11-yard touchdown and the ensuing 2-point conversion by Eric Fitch gave Webb City a 14-0 lead with 1:02 remaining in the opening quarter. 

Jackson broke free for a 76-yard touchdown sprint early in the second quarter before adding a 35-yard scamper one series later, the third score of the night for the senior running back. 

Republic’s Avery Moody plunged into the end zone on a 1-yard QB keeper with 2:42 left in the first half.

The hosts responded on their next drive, as senior QB Cohl Vaden connected with William Hayes for a 41-yard touchdown strike, giving the Cardinals a 35-6 advantage. 

Just before the half, Vaden found Trey Roets open over the middle for a 24-yard touchdown. That made it 42-6 at halftime. The Cardinals had nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half alone. 

In the third quarter, Wilson (41 yards) and Vaden (1-yard) both had touchdown runs for the Cardinals, while Moody found the end zone for the visitors. 

Republic’s Kanon Krol scored on a 2-yard run with just over seven minutes remaining in the game for the final margin. 

Republic was coming off wins over Neosho and Willard, but the Tigers were unable to move the football successfully for most of the night. The Tigers punted four times, lost a fumble and had a turnover on downs in the first half. 

“I’m really proud of our defense for setting the tone and for setting our offense up,” Roderique said. 

Webb City is now 22-0 all-time against Republic in football.

Webb City finished with 427 yards of offense, 362 rushing and 65 passing. 

Jackson ran for 161 yards on 10 carries, while Wilson had 105 yards on just six carries. Max Stovern contributed 81 yards on five carries. 

Republic had 225 yards of offense, 168 rushing and 57 passing. 

In what will be a highly-anticipated Week 4 showdown, Webb City (2-1) travels to rival Carthage (3-0) next Friday night. 

 

WEBB CITY 56, REPUBLIC 20

Webb City   14   28   14   0 — 56

Republic        0     6     6     8— 20

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

WC:  Cade Wilson 39 run (Run failed)

WC: Dupree Jackson 11 run (Fitch run)

Second Quarter

WC: Jackson 76 run (Cooper Crouch kick)

WC: Jackson 35 run (Crouch kick)

REP: Avery Moody 1 run (Kick blocked)

WC: William Hayes 41 pass from Cohl Vaden (Crouch kick)

WC: Trey Roets 24 pass from Vaden (Crouch kick)

Third Quarter

WC: Wilson 41 run (Crouch kick)

REP: Moody 2 run (Run failed)

WC: Vaden 1 run (Crouch kick)

Fourth Quarter

REP: Kanon Krol 2 run (Moody run)

 

PREP FOOTBALL: Last-second field goal lifts Joplin past Webb City in thrilling ’21 opener

 

WEBB CITY, Mo. — With the outcome of Friday’s intense rivalry clash hanging in the balance, Joseph Ipsen told himself to remain calm as he jogged onto the field.

In what was the most pressure-packed moment of his prep football career, the Joplin High School junior kicker came through in the clutch. 

Ipsen converted a last-second field goal from 42 yards out to lift Joplin past Webb City 41-40 in the opener of the 2021 season inside a packed Cardinal Stadium. 

“I had to keep my cool and not get stressed,” Ipsen said. “I had to go through the motions and just do my job. The kick felt good. As soon as I hit the ball I could tell it was going in. It’s a really great start to the season for us. I think a lot of people doubted that we could beat Webb. This one shows what can happen if we all do our jobs.” 

The Week 1 Joplin-Webb City meeting was once again an entertaining one. In fact, the term “great game” applies to this year’s matchup.

“It was like two big heavyweights in a title match,” Joplin coach Curtis Jasper said. “Everyone kept throwing haymakers. We were good enough to land the last one. It was a well-played game in every facet.”

The Cardinals led 24-13 before the Eagles recorded four unanswered touchdowns to take a 38-24 advantage with just over nine minutes left in the contest. 

Webb City made a valiant comeback, scoring 16 straight points late in the game, taking a 40-38 lead with just 46 seconds remaining.

But the Eagles weren’t finished. Led by standout senior quarterback Always Wright, the Eagles managed to pull close enough for one last shot.

After a timeout with five seconds left, Ipsen’s kick sailed through the uprights, giving Joplin its third straight victory over the Cardinals. 

“It was a great snap, a great hold and then Ipsen nailed it through, so it was awesome,” Jasper said. “I love my guys…the players, the coaching staff and the whole community. It’s the best.” 

Webb City coach John Roderique was pleased with his team’s effort and resiliency. 

“I’m unbelievably proud of our guys,” Roderique said. “What a great effort by our guys. I couldn’t be prouder. We were down two scores and it didn’t look very good. But our guys battled their tails off.” 

Roderique noted Friday’s outcome won’t define his team’s season. A couple of years ago the Cardinals dropped the opener to the Eagles and went on to win a state championship. After last year’s loss by the same score, the Cardinals recorded 11-straight wins and advanced to the semifinals. 

“For a first game, we played pretty good,” Roderique said. “We played really good at times. We’re always a team that gets a lot better throughout the course of the year. It’s one game. I’d say the same thing if we won tonight.” 

Joplin’s Quinton Renfro is tackled by Webb City’s Lucas Ott. Photo by Israel Perez.

GAME RECAP

Webb City went 66 yards on eight plays on the opening drive of the night, as Cade Wilson’s 8-yard run and Dupree Jackson’s 2-point conversion gave the hosts an 8-0 lead with 9:05 left in the first quarter.

After an interception by Joplin’s Robert Kelly, the Eagles got on the board when Wright scampered into the end zone from 3 yards out to cap an eight-play, 42-yard drive.

The 2-point conversion failed, giving the hosts an 8-6 lead at the 2:48 mark of the opening frame. 

Webb City extended its lead to 16-6 when Jackson charged into the end zone on a 10-yard run, followed by his 2-point conversion.

A halfback pass from Wilson to Eric Fitch set up the score, which came with just under a minute remaining in the first period. 

Webb City’s Dupree Jackson looks for running room during Friday’s game with Joplin at Cardinal Stadium. Photo by Israel Perez.

The Eagles pulled within three when Wright connected with Hudson Moore on a 17-yard touchdown strike with 8:53 left in the second quarter. The pass play finished off a nine-play, 65-yard drive.

Wilson’s second TD of the night, a 4-yard scamper, along with his ensuing 2-point conversion, gave Webb City a 24-13 advantage with 4:58 left in the first half. The Cardinals marched 74 yards on eight plays during the drive. 

Going to the air again and again, and going 81 yards on seven plays, Joplin struck just before the half, as Wright found an open Landen Atherton on a 2-yard pass with just nine seconds remaining in the opening half. 

The Eagles took a 25-24 lead at the 5:51 mark of the third period when a scrambling Wright found Bruce Wilbert open from 8 yards out. The 2-point try failed, however. 

Drew VanGilder scored a touchdown for the Joplin Eagles.

Terrance Gibson had a 34-yard receiving touchdown and Drew VanGilder scored on a 43-yard run to give the Eagles a 38-24 cushion.

For Webb City, Vaden’s 14-yard touchdown with 6:20 remaining and Wilson’s 6-yard run with 46 seconds left tied the game. A 2-point conversion run by Wilson gave the hosts a 40-38 lead.

Joplin’s Wright completed three key passes in the final minute before Ipsen’s game-winning field goal.

“The offensive line was unreal tonight,” Jasper said. “We played good defensive football. The players executed the game plan. They continued to be resilient…it was awesome. No one flinched on our side. No one hung their head at the end. We knew we could do it.” 

Of the game’s final play, Roderique said, “I should have called a timeout and had a block team out there. That’s on me.” 

 

NAMES & NUMBERS

Joplin’s Landen Atherton attempts to get past Webb City’s Landon Johnson.

Joplin finished with 439 yards of offense, 235 passing and 204 rushing. 

Wright, who received an offer from Drake University this week, completed 24 of 31 passes with three scores and no interceptions. 

“He has the poise to continue to make play after play,” Jasper said when asked about Wright’s performance. “We’ve got really good receivers who can catch the ball and a quarterback who can put it where it needs to be.” 

Moore hauled in six passes for 74 yards, while Quinton Renfro had five receptions for 61 yards and Atherton had seven catches for 37 yards.

VanGilder, a junior running back, totaled 127 rushing yards on 11 carries. 

For Joplin’s defense, Draven VanGilder was credited with eight tackles and Robert Kelly had seven.

Webb City had 442 yards of offense, 315 rushing and 127 passing.

Jackson ran 21 times for 167 yards, while Wilson contributed 90 yards on 16 carries with three scores. 

Vaden, making his first varsity start at QB, ran 14 times for 36 yards and completed 7 of 9 passes for 102 yards. 

Jackson hauled in one pass for 44 yards, while William Hayes had four catches for 38 yards. 

Linebackers Cooper Crouch and Lucas Ott led the Webb City defense. Crouch was credited with 13 tackles, while Ott had nine stops. 

Webb City was flagged 14 times for 115 yards, while Joplin had nine penalties for 55 yards. 

Joplin became the first team to knock off Webb City in three straight seasons since Mount Vernon pulled off four straight wins in 1984, ’85, ’86 and ’87. 

WHAT’S NEXT?

In Week 2, Joplin hosts Nixa and Webb City travels to Neosho. 

 

JOPLIN 41, WEBB CITY 40

Joplin            6  13  6  1641

Webb City  16   8   0   1640

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

WC: Cade Wilson 8 run (Dupree Jackson run)

JOP: Always Wright 3 run (Pass failed)

WC: Jackson 10 run (Jackson run)

Second Quarter

JOP: Hudson Moore 17 pass from Wright (Joseph Ipsen kick)

WC: Wilson 4 run (Wilson run)

JOP: Landen Atherton 2 pass from Wright (Kick failed)

Third Quarter

JOP: Bruce Wilbert 8 pass from Wright (Pass failed)

Fourth Quarter

JOP: Terrance Gibson 34 pass from Wright (Run failed)

JOP: Drew VanGilder 43 run (Ipsen kick)

WC: Vaden 14 run (Pass to Josh Howard)

WC: Wilson 6 run (Wilson run)

JOP: Joseph Ipsen 42 field goal. 

 

The Webb City defense, including Brentan Wilson, Cooper Crouch, Kaylor Darnell and Landon Johnson, converge on Joplin’s Landen Atherton during Friday’s game in Webb City. All photos by Israel Perez.

 

Joplin’s Bruce Wilbert looks to bring down Webb City’s Cohl Vaden.

FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Perennial power Webb City reloaded in 2021

 

The Webb City Cardinals will have new faces in big roles this fall. 

Entering the 2021 season, the Cardinals must overcome the loss of a talented senior class that produced 11 all-conference and six all-state performers. 

“We are replacing many multi-year starters in several positions,” Webb City coach John Roderique noted. “That’s a very tough thing to do. We’ll need to become an experienced team early. There are a lot of unknowns, but that’s what’s exciting. Some kids always surprise you.”

Webb City will rely heavily on five returning starters on offense and four full-time starters on defense to lead the way alongside a large number of new varsity performers who will get their chance to shine this season. 

“We’re a very inexperienced team right now,” said Roderique, who owns a record of 298-28 entering his 25th season at the helm. “It showed at times at the jamboree. But our kids have been working hard and they’ve done a really good job. We’ll have some new guys step forward. We’re excited to get the season kicked off and we’ll see how much progress we make week to week. We want to improve from start to finish.”  

As far as 2020, a bump up to Class 5 didn’t stop Webb City from having a memorable and highly successful campaign.

The Cardinals went 11-2 overall and were one of the final four teams competing in Class 5. Along the way, Webb City earned a share of the Central Ozark Conference championship, captured a district title for the 21st straight season and reached the state semifinals for the 12th time in 13 years. 

In a season that began with uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, Roderique’s defending Class 4 champion Cardinals moved up to Class 5 and put together an 11-game winning streak before falling to Platte County in the semifinals. 

“The best part of the season was overcoming a season opening loss to Joplin to put ourselves in a tie for the conference title, winning a district championship and advancing to the semifinals,” said Roderique, who has won 12 state championships at his alma mater. 

Dealing with COVID-19 was not easy, Roderique noted.

“The most challenging thing was each day we didn’t know who was going to show up or be available for practice or who might be playing on Friday,” Roderique said. “We had to make many adjustments to the roster and depth chart each and every week.” 

Among the biggest losses to graduation were last year’s COC Offensive Player of the Year Devrin Weathers and COC Defensive Player of the Year Treghan Parker. Kansas State recruit Weathers and Missouri State recruit Gary Clinton were among the all-state performers who have moved on the next level. 

Cohl Vaden attempts a pass during last Friday’s jamboree at Junge Field. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

OFFENSE

Webb City’s split-back veer offense will be directed by a new quarterback this fall5-foot-10, 160-pound senior Cohl Vaden.

“Cohl’s been great at QB and he’s a really smart kid,” said Roderique. “He’s really smart and athletic on the field. He’s got a good football IQ. He’s doing a good job.” 

Vaden earned third-team all-COC honors last year as a wide receiver. He had 294 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Junior Gage Chapman is another option at QB. 

A pair of senior running backs return with starting experience. Dupree Jackson recorded 836 rushing yards and scored 12 touchdowns last season, while classmate Cade Wilson ran for 305 yards and six scores before an injury cut short his season.

Eric Fitch is expected to play a key role for the Webb City Cardinals.

Options at wide receiver are seniors Eric Fitch and Josh Howard, while senior Skyler Denton and junior Trey Roets are tight ends.

Two offensive linemen are returning starters. 

Senior center Buddy Belcher (6-0, 245) earned all-conference and all-district honors last year. Belcher will start for a third straight season. 

Senior guard Braeden Jackson (6-3, 270) is also back with starting experience.

Senior Angel Valasquez and sophomores Kole Carr and Nate Miller are other possible starters on the offensive line.

 

DEFENSE

The Cardinals feature three returning starters at linebacker in seniors Brentan Wilson (5-9, 170) and Cooper Crouch (6-1, 210) and junior Lucas Ott (6-1, 195). 

Roderique expects all three players to be leaders of the defense. Wilson made 60 tackles last year, most among returning players. Crouch and Ott recorded 56 tackles apiece last fall. 

Also back are senior tackles Christian Kinney (6-3, 250) and Brody German (5-10, 230). Kinney recorded 27 stops last year, while German made 21 tackles.

Fitch is a possible starter at defensive back. Also expected to contribute nicely are seniors Gavin Stowell (LB) and Braxton Surber (DL) and juniors Kaylor Darnell (DB) and A.J. Bash (DL). 

 

COACHING STAFF ADDITIONS

Roderique’s coaching staff has two noteworthy additions this year.

Scott Bailey, who led Lamar to seven state titles in 14 years, is now coaching Webb City’s defensive line. 

Webb City graduate and former assistant Ryan McFarland is back on the staff as the offensive coordinator after leaving Seneca, where he guided the Indians the last five years. 

“They’re awesome guys and just good friends,” Roderique said of Bailey and McFarland. “They’re both great with kids. They’re exceptional football coaches and they do a great job of inspiring and motivating kids.” 

 

WEEK 1 IS HERE

Webb City hosts Joplin at 7 on Friday night in a highly-anticipated Week 1 clash. 

“It’s Week 1, so it’s like a baseline test to figure out where you’re at,” Roderique said. “Week 1 will give us an indication of where we need to be and where we need to go.” 

 

WEBB CITY’S 2021 SCHEDULE

8-27 vs. Joplin

9-3 at Neosho

9-10 vs. Republic

9-17 at Carthage

9-24 at Carl Junction

10-1 vs. Branson

10-8 at Nixa

10-15 vs. Ozark

10-22 at Willard 

SIGNING DAY: Webb City seniors make college decisions official

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Nine Webb City High School seniors made their college decisions official by signing letters of intent on National Signing Day. 

Eight of the nine student-athletes attended a signing ceremony in front of a large group of students, coaches, parents and grandparents on Wednesday afternoon inside the Cardinal Dome.

Football players Gary Clinton, Jaystin Smith and Grant Goltra were joined by softball players Haidyn Berry, Alyssa Jennings and Bri Batson, while track and field athlete Luke Brumit and cheerleader Kassidy Perkins also put pen to paper.

Football player Jacob Shonk also made his decision official on Wednesday, but he was unable to attend the event at WCHS.

“I look forward to seeing how they all progress in college,” Webb City athletics director and football coach John Roderique said of the signees. 

The football players played key roles as the Cardinals won a state championship in 2019 and advanced to the semifinals in ’20. Of course, Webb City’s softball team was the state runner-up this past fall.

 

Webb City football players Jaystin Smith, Gary Clinton and Grant Goltra are pictured with their family members during Wednesday’s signing ceremony inside the Cardinal Dome. Jacob Shonk was unable to attend the signing ceremony. Photo by Jason Peake.

GARY CLINTON—MISSOURI STATE

A 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end, Clinton signed with Missouri State and head coach Bobby Petrino. 

“As a kid, it was my dream to go to the next level and play Division-I ball,” Clinton said. “To have this opportunity is a blessing. I’m excited.” 

Clinton committed to Arkansas State last July, but after a coaching change at the school, Clinton de-committed in mid-December. He found his future home by late January.

“I decommitted from Arkansas State and that night Missouri State contacted me,” Clinton said. “I knew they wanted me. It’s a great opportunity. I need to get stronger and faster. I want to play early and often at Missouri State.”  

“That was quite an unusual situation,” Roderique said. “He had his plans set, but there was a coaching change. It changed everything. That’s the reality of FBS college football. But Missouri State was one of the first schools he talked to and I know he feels real good about going there.”

Known for his superb blocking, Clinton earned all-state, all-district and all-conference recognition as a senior after hauling in 12 passes for 224 yards (18.7 yards per reception). A three-year starter, Clinton recorded 25 receptions for 448 yards and three touchdowns in his career. 

Clinton has been listed as a three-star recruit by ESPN and rated as a two-star prospect by both 247sports.com and Rivals. Clinton held offers from Arkansas State, Army, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, Southeast Missouri and Eastern Illinois.

 

JAYSTIN SMITH—MISSOURI SOUTHERN

A 6-3, 215-pound linebacker, Smith inked with Missouri Southern.

“I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to play at the next level,” Smith said. “I’m ready to be a Lion.” 

Smith made 69 tackles as a senior and earned all-COC recognition. 

Of course, MSSU is expected to name a new head coach soon. 

“They’ve got a really nice facility and they’re getting a new coaching staff coming in that will hopefully turn the program around,” Smith said. “I think the new coach will get the program back on track. I think I’ll have the opportunity to play and I’m going to do my best.” 

Whether he’s at outside linebacker or defensive end, Smith said he’ll play wherever the coaching staff needs him.

“My goal is to be the best player and person I can be,” Smith said. “I’m blessed to be able to play at the collegiate level because not many kids have that opportunity. I wouldn’t be where I am at without WCHS.” 

 

GRANT GOLTRA—PITTSBURG STATE

A 6-4, 285-pound offensive lineman who earned all-state, all-district and all-conference honors, Goltra signed with Pittsburg State. 

“Knowing they put a lot of value into the offensive line really means a lot and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to go there,” Goltra said. “As an offensive lineman, I know Coach (Brian) Wright and Coach (Bryan) Larson have my back. It’s an exciting thing. I’ve met a lot of the other offensive linemen, they’re quality dudes and I’m excited to get after it.”

Goltra noted Pittsburg State’s tradition and gameday atmosphere were big selling points.

“That Gorilla Walk gives me chills,” he said. “That’s something I’m really looking forward to. And the program overall is incredibly respected. To join the winningest D-II program is an honor.”

Goltra is continuing the tradition of former Cardinals suiting up for the Gorillas.

“Knowing that I’ll be surrounded by dudes I already know will make it a whole lot easier coming in,” Goltra said.

Goltra and Smith will be close to home at rival schools.

“It’s a great thing anytime you have kids close enough where you can go see them play,” Roderique said.

 

JACOB SHONK—UPPER IOWA 

A 6-0, 170-pound wide receiver, Shonk signed with Upper Iowa University. 

“It means a lot because we have built an excellent recruiting class and there’s an excellent new coaching staff coming in,” Shonk told SoMo Sports. “They’re calling us the ‘new-look Peacocks.’ It’ll be a lot of fun and I can’t wait.”

Shonk added playing at the next level was very important to him.

“It means the world to me because I’ve been doubted my whole life,” he said. “I’ve always been told I’m not good enough, so it means an insane amount to make my dreams come true today.” 

Shonk also thanked his coaches.

“It meant a lot to be a part of the best football program in Missouri,” he said. 

 

Webb City softball players Alyssa Jennings, Haidyn Berry and Bri Batson are pictured with their family members during Wednesday’s signing ceremony at Webb City High School. Photo by Jason Peake.

HAIDYN BERRY—CENTRAL MISSOURI

The two-time Central Ozark Conference Softball Player of the Year is taking her talents to Central Missouri to suit up for the Jennies.

“It’s a family atmosphere there,” Berry said of UCM. “I really enjoyed playing at Webb City and it’s similar at Central Missouri. Everybody loves each other there and that’s what I wanted. I was thinking about throwing the javelin somewhere, but I couldn’t give up the softball route. It’s been my thing since I was eight-years-old, and I’m so excited for this opportunity.” 

A standout in the circle and at the plate, Berry played a crucial role as the Cardinals finished as the state runner-up and went 27-6. 

In the circle, Berry earned 25 wins and struck out 234 batters. Berry hit .444 with 48 hits, 49 RBI and a school record 18 home runs. The 18 homers rank second-best all-time in Missouri. 

Berry, who may play first base when she’s not pitching, will now look to set records at the next level. 

“I’m going to earn my spot there, work hard and put in the time,” Berry said. “I’m going to do whatever it takes at the next level. At this point, if I touch the field then it’s important to me. I want to play in the MIAA.” 

 

ALYSSA JENNINGS—CROWDER 

A two-year starter for the Cardinals, Jennings signed to play softball at Crowder College.

“I’m super excited,” Jennings said. “Their program is great, their facilities are nice and their coaches are amazing. And their softball team is ranked 20th in the nation.” 

An infielder/outfielder who earned all-COC and all-district recognition, Jennings hit .368 with 32 hits, 28 runs, 23 RBI and nine homers as a senior. She hit .345 with 23 runs scored and 22 RBI in ‘19.  

Jennings hopes to contribute nicely at Crowder.

“My goal is to see the field and go to the next level,” Jennings said. “Working my whole life to become the softball player I am and being able to continue to the next level is a blessing. Putting in the hours and days into the sport I love has finally paid off. This will be an amazing opportunity.” 

 

BRI BATSON—NEOSHO COUNTY

Batson inked with the Neosho County Community College softball program.

“It means a lot to sign because it shows all my hard work paid off and I get to compete at the next level,” Batson said. 

Batson noted NCCC felt like the best fit for her. 

“The coaches there are very nurturing, a lot like here,” Batson said. “They’re going to push me and I can’t wait. They’re going to make me a better player. I want to go there and work hard.” 

Batson launched a memorable game-tying home run in the state championship game. Batson hit .250 with 21 hits, 18 runs and 13 RBI this past fall. 

Batson may play catcher or third base for the Panthers. 

“I just want to thank everyone who didn’t let me give up on my dream,” Batson told SoMo Sports. 

 

Webb City’s Luke Brumit and Kassidy Perkins are pictured. Brumit signed to compete in track and field at Missouri Southern, while Perkins signed to cheer for Ottawa University in Kansas. Photo by Jason Peake. 

 

LUKE BRUMIT—MISSOURI SOUTHERN

Brumit, a standout high jumper, will join the Missouri Southern men’s track and field program.

“I liked how close it was to home and I liked the coaches there,” Brumit said. “I’m very excited. The coaching staff was very welcoming.”

Brumit said he’ll compete in the decathlon at MSSU.

“I only know three of the events right now, so I have to learn how to do seven more,” Brumit said. “I’m willing to put in the work.” 

As a sophomore, Brumit finished 14th in the high jump at the Class 4 state track meet. Of course, there was no track season last spring. 

Brumit, who is currently a starter on the Webb City basketball team, said he’s thrilled he’s getting the opportunity to compete in track and field at the next level.

“One of my dreams is coming true,” he said. “I won’t have to give up one of the sports I love.” 

 

KASSIDY PERKINS—OTTAWA

Perkins signed to join the cheerleading squad at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. 

“I was three-years-old when my parents put me in my first cheer class, not realizing they would be shaping my entire life by this decision,” Perkins told SoMo Sports. “I fell in love with a sport that pushed me past my comfort zone, always gave me a purpose and surrounded me with an unbreakable bond with so many people. This opportunity at Ottawa means the world to me.” 

Perkins noted the importance of the day for all the signees.

“It means the world to me knowing that all of us have dedicated our lives to what we do,” Perkins said. 

 

 

RELATED STORIES: 

A DECADE IN THE MAKING: Webb City softball standout Haidyn Berry has goals set high for senior year – SoMo Sports (somo-sports.com)

CHECKING EVERY BOX: Webb City’s Gary Clinton stands out at tight end – SoMo Sports (somo-sports.com)

 

Webb City football had stellar 2020 season

 

The Webb City Cardinals put together a stellar 2020 football season.

With the coronavirus pandemic lingering over the fall campaign, Webb City finished 11-2 and reached the state semifinals. 

The Cardinals, who bumped up to Class 5, captured a district championship for the 21st straight season and reached the state semifinals for the 19th time in 24 years. 

“It’s hard to think about the 2020 season without thinking about the pandemic and all the challenges that everybody faced,” Webb City coach John Roderique said. “We’re thankful we had the opportunity to play. That’s the main thing. There were so many questions going into the season. Looking around the country and even in some areas of our own state, teams weren’t playing or had limited opportunities to play. I feel like we were fortunate here. 

“I’m really thankful for our kids, our parents and everybody involved in our program,” Roderique added. “It wasn’t perfect, but we did the things we needed to do to give us the opportunity to play.”

The Cardinals dropped the season opener at Joplin 41-40 but then got on a roll, winning 11 straight games. 

Along the way, Webb City handed Class 6 Nixa its first loss, 28-0, and later won the district championship by beating defending Class 5 state champion and previously undefeated Carthage 42-21.

A 42-14 quarterfinal win over Lebanon put the Cardinals one win away from playing for a championship. But it wasn’t meant to be, as Platte County handed Webb City a 24-21 loss in the semifinals. 

Webb City’s two losses came by a combined four points. Overall, the Cardinals outscored their opponents 520-200.

“I’m really proud of our team,” Roderique said. “We had a lot of question marks going into the season in terms of replacing so many guys. We lost the 41-40 game at Joplin to start the season, and it could have gone two ways. You can get to work and try to get better or you could go the other way. I was really proud of where we got to as a team and how much we progressed as a football team. We battled injuries, quarantine and weekly and daily things, but we were still able to win a district title. I wouldn’t say we played our best game in the semifinal. But we grew into a really good football team this year.” 

Webb City averaged 40 points per game. The Cardinals averaged 267 rushing yards and 61 passing yards per game. 

Senior running back Devrin Weathers was named the COC Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,782 yards with 29 total touchdowns. A Kansas State recruit, Weathers averaged nearly 10 yards per carry. A three-year starter, Weathers finished with 2,069 all-purpose yards this fall. 

Junior Cade Wilson started the season in the backfield and ran for 305 yards and six scores in six games before an injury cut his season short. Junior Dupree Jackson replaced Wilson in the lineup and rushed for 836 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

Senior quarterback Cole Gayman passed for 875 yards on 45 completions with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Gayman, a Missouri Southern baseball recruit, also rushed for 542 yards with eight touchdowns. 

Gayman completed passes to nine different players. Junior Cohl Vaden was the team’s leading receiver, as he hauled in 11 passes for 294 yards and five touchdowns. 

Senior tight end Gary Clinton, an Arkansas State recruit, had 12 catches for 224 yards and senior Mekhi Garrard had 218 receiving yards on 12 receptions.  

Webb City’s defense allowed just 15 points per game.

Senior safety Treghan Parker was named the COC Defensive Player of the Year after he recorded 106 tackles and four interceptions.

Other leaders in tackles were Matt McDaniel (78), Brayden Hollingsworth (75), Jaystin Smith (59), Lucas Ott (56), Brentan Wilson (52), Cooper Crouch (48), Roger Carranco (41), Jacob Ott (36), Cale Stephens (35), Eli Goddard (34), Gavin Stowell (30), Kaylor Darnell (29), Billy Wolfe (25), Shane Noel (24), Christian Kinney (23) and Brody German (21).

McDaniel had four sacks, while Hollingsworth had three. The Cardinals had 15 interceptions, with Parker, Noel and Goddard grabbing four apiece. Stephens had two and Crouch had one.

This year’s senior class played a big role on last year’s Class 4 championship squad. Webb City went 53-4 the last four seasons, with titles in both ’19 and ’17 and semifinal appearances in ’18 and ’20.  

“We had a lot of kids who were three-year starters and just great players,” said Roderique, this year’s COC Coach of the Year. 

With the entire season in mind, and the challenges that were faced along the way, Roderique had one final thought. 

“There’s a lot of things to celebrate this year,” he said.  

 

The Webb City Cardinals had a lot to celebrate during the 2020 season.

Football: Webb City suffers season-ending loss to Platte County

WEBB CITY, Mo. — A solid effort wasn’t enough for the Webb City Cardinals. 

As a result, the 2020 season came to an abrupt end.

Platte County scored the go-ahead touchdown with just under six minutes to play, and the visiting Pirates came up with a pair of late defensive stops to secure a 24-21 victory over Webb City in a Class 5 semifinal on Saturday afternoon at a packed Cardinal Stadium.

Webb City concludes the fall campaign with an 11-2 record. 

“When you start the playoffs, every team but one is going to end with a loss,” Webb City coach John Roderique said. “Hats off to Platte County. They did what they needed to do. They had a great plan. Defensively, they played really well against us. Like I said to our kids, the buck stops with me. I wasn’t good enough today. Our guys played their guts out. We couldn’t do enough offensively, and that’s on me.” 

Platte County (12-1) will meet Jackson (13-0) for the Class 5 crown at 1 p.m. next Saturday at Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City. 

“I’m super proud of our effort,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said. “I thought our kids played hard the whole game. Webb City is a tremendous team. So to be able to come in and do this against such a great program and such a well-coached program, it’s a huge win for our kids and for our program in general.” 

It was Platte County’s first-ever win against Webb City. The Cardinals won a semifinal matchup 21-18 in 2017 and beat the Pirates 48-0 in last year’s Class 4 title game. 

“Revenge was not even part of our talk,” Utz said. “We play for progress, not for revenge. We’d like to play them every year because they’re a measuring stick for us. That’s why I love playing them. It tells me where we’re at.” 

Webb City led 21-17 with 9:25 remaining, but the Pirates answered with a go-ahead scoring drive before keeping the Cardinals out of the end zone on two late series. 

“There’s a real fine line between winning and losing,” Roderique said, noting missed opportunities. “Today, it wasn’t meant to be.” 

Webb City’s Cooper Crouch tackles Platte County’s Colby Rollins during Saturday’s Class 5 semifinal. Webb City’s Brentan Wilson and Shane Noel are also pictured. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

GAME RECAP

Platte County struck first when quarterback Chris Ruhnke completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Carter Salzman with 7:25 remaining in the opening frame. 

The two teams traded turnovers late in the first quarter, as Webb City quarterback Cole Gayman fumbled after being hit before Cale Stephens intercepted a Ruhnke pass.

Webb City nearly tied the game late in the first period, but the hosts fumbled on the 1-yard line, with the Pirates recovering in the end zone.

The visitors took a 14-0 lead with 9:27 left in the first half when Ruhnke completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Salzman, capping an 80-yard drive. A Northwest Missouri recruit, Ruhnke ran in the two-point conversion. 

The Cardinals cut their deficit in half when senior running back Devrin Weathers broke free for a much-needed 82-yard touchdown sprint. Cameron Clark’s kick made it 14-7 with 4:46 left in the first half. 

Webb City senior Devrin Weathers celebrates a touchdown during Saturday’s game with Platte County. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

After forcing the Pirates into a quick three-and-out, the Cardinals needed just one play to score, as Weathers ran 38 yards up the middle to the end zone, with Clark’s kick tying the score at 14 with 3:32 left in the first half.

But Platte County’s Cole Rhoden converted a 38-yard field just before the break, giving the Pirates a 17-14 halftime cushion. 

Webb City’s Treghan Parker picked off two Ruhnke passes in the third period.

“Treghan…what a great player that guy has been,” Roderique said. “He’s been tremendous for us.”

But the Cardinals were unable to take advantage of the turnovers, as the hosts simply couldn’t generate much offense during the period, going three and out on three straight drives. As a result, the hosts trailed by three entering the fourth quarter.

On the first series of the final frame, Webb City marched 74 yards to take the lead, as Dupree Jackson’s 4-yard touchdown run gave the Cardinals a 21-17 advantage with 9:25 remaining. Long pass plays set up the score, including a 33-yard strike to Mekhi Garrard and a 49-yard pass to Cohl Vaden.

The Pirates re-took the lead with 5:58 left when Colby Rollins hauled in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ruhnke in the left corner of the end zone on fourth down, capping a 13-play, 64-yard drive. 

“He really threw the ball well,” Roderique said of Ruhnke. “The last play was a terrific throw.” 

Webb City had a turnover on downs with 4:33 left. On the ensuing drive, the Pirates were able to pick up a key first down to keep the clock moving. 

Platte County’s drive ended with a turnover on downs, but the Cardinals had just 25 seconds remaining when they got the ball back. 

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, there would be no late-game magic, as four passes fell incomplete before time ran out. 

“Our defense has been solid all year,” Utz said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who play with a lot of heart and get after it.”

Platte County’s Collin Tyson hits Webb City quarterback Cole Gayman from behind during Saturday’s Class 5 semifinal. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

NAMES & NUMBERS

Webb City compiled 333 yards of offense on 46 plays, with 245 rushing and 88 passing. 

In his final game in a Webb City uniform, Weathers recorded 192 rushing yards on 16 carries with two scores. Junior Dupree Jackson ran 10 times for 60 yards. 

Another senior, Gayman completed 4-of-12 passes for 88 yards.  Vaden hauled in one pass for 49 yards, Garrard had two catches for 36 and Jackson had one reception for three yards.

Webb City had 14 first downs, while Platte County had 24. 

Platte County racked up 361 yards on 79 plays, with 227 passing and 134 rushing. The Pirates were 9-for-19 on third-down conversions, while Webb City was 3-for-10. 

Ruhnke completed 19-of-44 pass attempts with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Salzman led the receivers with five catches for 87 yards. Cayden Davis ran 27 times for 90 yards. 

NOTES: The Cardinals were led onto the field by Christian Heady, a Webb City student who has been battling cancer. 

In the other semifinal, Jackson knocked off Fort Zumwalt North 49-14 on Friday night to earn a second straight trip to the Class 5 title game. The Indians lost to Carthage in overtime last year.  

 

Webb City’s Dupree Jackson carries the ball during Saturday’s game. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

 

Webb City coach John Roderique talks to his team after Saturday’s season-ending loss to Platte County. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

 

CLASS 5 SEMIFINAL 

PLATTE COUNTY 24, WEBB CITY 21

Platte Co.  6      11    0  7—24

Webb City  0     14   0   7—21 

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

PC: Carter Salzman 15 pass from Chris Ruhnke (Pass failed)

Second Quarter

PC: Salzman 16 pass from Ruhnke (Ruhnke run)

WC: Devrin Weathers 82 run (Cameron Clark kick)

WC: Weathers 38 run (Clark kick)

PC: Cole Rhoden 38 field goal

Third Quarter

No scoring

Fourth Quarter

WC: Dupree Jackson 4 run (Clark kick)

PC: Colby Rollins 9 pass from Ruhnke (Rhoden kick)

 

Big third quarter leads Webb City past Lebanon, Cards advance to semifinals

WEBB CITY, Mo. — John Roderique insists there were no magic words at halftime. 

The veteran Webb City football coach added there was no yelling or screaming, either. 

But whatever words were uttered in the Webb City locker room during intermission, they definitely worked. 

Ignited by a big third quarter, and taking advantage of six turnovers, Webb City rolled to a convincing 42-14 victory over Lebanon in a Class 5 quarterfinal on a rainy Friday night at Cardinal Stadium. 

The Cardinals (11-1) advanced to the semifinals, where they’ll host Platte County (11-1) at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

A spot in the Final Four was not a given at the break. Webb City was clinging to a 14-8 lead after a not so great end to the first half. 

“It was kind of a dead locker room,” Roderique said of halftime. “The kids didn’t really know what to think. They’d been getting beat up on the field. That was one of those times there was no sense of yelling or screaming. They probably felt bad enough. You just try to calm them down a little bit and tell them to go do their job and go play.”

The Cardinals did their jobs all right, as Webb City scored 21 unanswered points after the break to turn a close one into a rout. 

“The attitude was, ‘If you don’t think we can win, stay in here,'” Webb City senior linebacker Eli Goddard said of halftime. 

Webb City outscored Lebanon 28-6 in the second half. 

“We needed to get our defense off the field,” Roderique said. “We couldn’t stop them. They were impressive. Hats off to them. We don’t have a big, physical defensive line. We made some adjustments at halftime and put some different kids on the field. I thought we played a lot better defensively in the second half as far as slowing them down. Defensively, we’re proud they came back in the second half and played a lot better.” 

The one-sided third quarter gave the hosts a comfortable 27-point cushion heading into the final frame. 

“I thought our offense really did a great job in the second half,” Roderique added. “You have to be able to possess the ball and put it in the end zone. I was proud of our guys on the offensive side for doing that.”

Winners of 11 straight games, the Cardinals are in the semifinals for the fourth straight year and the 12th time in 13 years. 

“We’ve been so blessed here,” Roderique said. “I’m just proud of our kids. When you get to this point, you start thinking about where you were at the start of the season. You want to improve every week. That’s something we preach. Just to go from where we were in Week 1 to where we are now is a big difference. I’m proud of our kids and our coaches for staying the course and continuing to work.” 

NAMES & NUMBERS

Webb City racked up 270 yards on 37 plays, with 214 rushing and 56 passing. 

Senior running back Devrin Weathers ran 16 times for 112 yards with three touchdowns, while junior Dupree Jackson added 107 rushing yards on nine carries with two scores. 

Quarterback Cole Gayman completed 4-of-7 passes, with Cohl Vaden, Mekhi Garrard, Gary Clinton and Weathers hauling in one pass apiece. 

Treghan Parker and Brayden Hollingsworth made 10 tackles apiece. Goddard, Christian Kinney and Zetthew Meister all recovered fumbles, while Parker, Goddard and Cale Stephens all had interceptions. 

Utilizing a ground and pound running attack, the Yellowjackets recorded 290 yards on 78 plays, with 280 rushing and 10 passing. Drew McBride ran 29 times for 103 yards, while Nathan Bartell had nine carries for 69 yards. 

Lebanon lost three fumbles and threw three interceptions.

“That was the difference in the game,” Roderique said. “Any time you get that many turnovers you’re going to have a chance to be successful. That was a huge difference in the game for sure.” 

Webb City’s Dupree Jackson carries the ball against Lebanon on Friday night in the Class 5 quarterfinal contest at Cardinal Stadium. Photo by Israel Perez.

GAME RECAP

In the first meeting between the schools since 1999, Lebanon put together a 16-play drive to start the night, all short gains on the ground. But the promising series, which lasted 8 minutes and 15 seconds, ended when McBride fumbled in the end zone, with Goddard recovering.

After the Cardinals were forced to punt, the Yellowjackets fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive, with Kinney recovering.

Two plays later, Weathers sprinted 31 yards to the end zone, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead. 

A 1-yard touchdown plunge by Weathers finished off a seven-play, 75-yard drive and made it 14-0 with 10:31 left in the first half. A 29-yard pass from Gayman to Vaden and a 25-yard scamper by Weathers set up the touchdown.

The Yellowjackets struck late in the first half, aided by a pass interference call on the Cardinals that kept the drive going.

Lebanon got on the board with 1:09 left in the first half on McBride’s 2-yard run and a two-point conversion, cutting the hosts’ lead to 14-8.

The Yellowjackets recovered an onside kick and threatened to score, but Webb City’s Parker picked off a pass.

In a key play that ended the first half, Gayman lost the ball, Lebanon lineman Garrett Childers recovered and took off. After scampering more than 40 yards, Childers was tackled from behind by a sprinting Jackson just outside the end zone, preserving a 14-8 halftime advantage. 

“That was the play of the year for us,” Roderique said. “The whole complexion of the game could have changed on that one play.” 

In the first half, Lebanon ran 47 plays, while Webb City ran just 14. 

The Cardinals pulled away for good in the game-changing third quarter. 

Jackson’s 38-yard run made it 21-7. After another Lebanon turnover, Weathers reached the end zone for the third time on a 2-yard run, giving the Cardinals a 20-point lead with 5:17 remaining in the third period. 

Next, Goddard’s pick-6 pushed Webb City’s lead to 35-8. Goddard sprinted 24 yards to the end zone after the interception. 

Lebanon’s final score came with 7:28 left, as Bartell charged in from 5-yards out. 

Webb City’s Jackson recorded a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:58 remaining for the final margin.

The Yellowjackets finished the season with a 7-4 record. 

Webb City senior Treghan Parker runs after an interception on Friday night as Lebanon quarterback Peyton Mitchell looks to make the tackle. Photo by Israel Perez.

REMATCH IS SET 

Platte County defeated Grain Valley 31-28.

Webb City defeated Platte County 48-0 in last year’s Class 4 title game. Now, the rematch will determine who plays for the Class 5 crown.

“It means everything,” Goddard said of being back in the semifinals. “This is where you want to be every year. We have a great opportunity.” 

 

 

 

CLASS 5 QUARTERFINAL

WEBB CITY 42, LEBANON 14

Scoring Summary

Lebanon      0     8    0   6—14 

Webb City   7    7   21   7—42 

First Quarter

WC: Devrin Weathers 31 run (Cameron Clark kick)

Second Quarter

WC: Weathers 1 run (Clark kick)

LEB: Drew McBride 2 run (Cordell Zebel pass from Peyton Mitchell)

Third Quarter

WC: Dupree Jackson 38 run (Clark kick)

WC: Weathers 2 run (Clark kick)

WC: Eli Goddard 24 INT return (Clark kick)

Fourth Quarter

LEB: Nathan Bartell 5 run (Run failed)

WC: Jackson 4 run (Clark kick)

FRIDAY’S CLASS 5 QUARTERFINALS
Jackson 63, Chaminade 22
Fort Zumwalt North 35, Battle 14
Webb City 42, Lebanon 14
Platte County 31, Grain Valley 28

SEMIFINALS
Jackson at Fort Zumwalt North
Platte County at Webb City

 

Webb City senior Devrin Weathers ran for three touchdowns against Lebanon on Friday night. Webb City won 42-14 to advance to the state semifinals. Photo by Israel Perez.

RISING TO THE OCCASION: Webb City knocks off previously undefeated Nixa 

WEBB CITY, Mo. —  The Webb City Cardinals passed their biggest test of the season with flying colors.

Superior in all phases of the game, Webb City knocked off previously undefeated Nixa 28-0 in a key Central Ozark Conference showdown on Friday night inside a packed Cardinal Stadium.

Nixa entered the night unbeaten and ranked second in Class 6 by the Missouri Media. The Eagles (6-1) no longer have an unblemished record, as the Cardinals (6-1) earned a statement victory on Homecoming to stay in the hunt for a conference title. 

“Going into this game, I really felt like we were the underdog,” Webb City coach John Roderique said. “There were probably more people that expected us to lose this game than win it. Maybe we played with a chip on our shoulder. Nixa had the most wins in our conference, so I think that brought out the best of us.” 

Webb City senior defensive back Treghan Parker noted the Cardinals simply rose to the occasion when faced with 2020’s biggest challenge to date.  

“We knew we had a great opportunity this week,” said Parker, who made a team-high seven solo tackles. “We knew we needed to get over the hump of just being good. I feel like we came out and did just that. Our coaches were really motivational this week. We practiced really hard and played as a team. We knew they were a great team, but our defense played outstanding.” 

Ranked second in Class 5, Webb City extended its winning streak to six.

“I’m just thrilled,” Roderique said. “We knew it was going to take a tremendous effort from our kids and we knew we’d have to do a great job of coaching during the week. I thought our kids stepped up in practice. Our attention to detail was much better than it’s been. I thought our guys just played with a lot of guts in all three phases.” 

Nixa coach John Perry was blunt in his postgame assessment. 

“It was a great test for us, but golly, they whooped us,” Perry said. “It is what it is. No excuses. They out-played us and they out-coached us. They were really, really good tonight. They were very consistent. They hammered us. I thought they were more physical. They did a fantastic job. That is a good football program. That’s the model of where we’re going. We’re just not there yet. To figure out how to be the best, you have to play the best.” 

Webb City’s formidable defense pitched a shutout against a Nixa squad that was averaging 40 points per game. The Cardinals limited the Eagles to 163 yards, with 83 passing and 80 rushing. Nixa completed just seven of 25 pass attempts, with two being picked off. 

“That’s a phenomenal effort by our defense,” Roderique said. “They’ve scored a lot of points this year and they’re really talented. Hats off to our defense. Our defense continues to get better every week.”

Webb City had 26 first downs, while Nixa had 10. The Cardinals, who led 14-0 at intermission and 21-0 entering the fourth quarter, compiled 386 yards, with 306 rushing and 80 passing. 

Senior running back Devrin Weathers ran 22 times for 132 yards, while senior quarterback Cole Gayman added 59 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns. A Kansas State recruit, Weathers has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game this season.

“I thought he got better as the game went on,” Perry said. “He got stronger.”

Webb City’s Matt McDaniel was credited with nine tackles, while Brayden Hollingsworth and Brentan Wilson made four stops apiece and Jaystin Smith had three.  

Roderique noted he was proud of his special teams unit as well.

“I’m proud of all three phases tonight,” Roderique said. 

Nixa’s Ramone Green ran 19 times for 66 yards. Austin McCracken passed for 47 yards and Reid Potts added 36 passing yards. Nate Nixon led the receivers with three catches for 34 yards. 

JACKSON MAKES FIRST START 

Webb City junior running back Dupree Jackson made his first start in the backfield, as Cade Wilson is now out for the season after suffering a leg injury last week at Branson. 

Jackson ran 18 times for 102 yards with a touchdown.  

“I’m just excited,” Jackson said. “I was nervous at the beginning, but once the game got started it was all right. This win is big. It boosts our confidence for sure. But we can’t get satisfied. We have to get better.” 

GAME RECAP

In Southwest Missouri’s most anticipated contest of 2020, the Cardinals took an early lead when Gayman sprinted into the end zone on a 10-yard QB keeper with 1:07 left in the opening frame, with Cameron Clark booting the PAT kick. The hosts had good field position on the drive thanks to an Eli Goddard interception. 

Nixa had a golden opportunity after recovering a Webb City fumble on the 21-yard line. But on the first play of the ensuing possession, Webb City’s Shane Noel intercepted a McCracken pass in the end zone. 

“With a really good football team, when your offense makes a mistake, your defense picks them up,” Roderique said. “That’s a great team effort. Offense complements defense and vice versa.” 

The Cardinals made the Eagles pay for the turnover. Capping a methodical 16-play, 80-yard drive, Jackson scored on a 7-yard scamper, giving the Cardinals a 14-0 advantage at the 3:31 mark of the second quarter. 

Webb City’s defense limited Nixa to just 68 yards in the first half while the Cardinals racked up 200 yards, including 165 on the ground. 

“They get three, four or five yards per carry and just do that over and over without making any frickin mistakes,” Perry said. “It’s hard to stop.” 

The Cardinals put together a 10-play, 91-yard scoring drive in the third period, capped by a 13-yard touchdown strike from Goddard to a diving Cohl Vaden that made it 21-0. Goddard came into the game in a hurry after Gayman’s helmet came off on the previous play.  

“That was a phenomenal catch by Cohl,” Roderique said. “There’s not many kids that can make that play. And Eli did that kind of thing all of last year. He comes in and throws strikes.” 

After Nixa turned it over on downs, Gayman finished off a 76-yard drive with a 10-yard QB keeper, putting the Cardinals comfortably up 28-0. 

Sustaining drives proved crucial for the Cardinals. 

“We had to be able to control the ball,” Roderique said. “If you can do that, you’re giving yourself a chance. I thought that really worked out well. That 91-yard drive was a huge plus and gave us a lot of confidence.”

The Eagles turned it over on downs twice in the fourth quarter.

The Webb City football program has never lost to Nixa.

Carthage is now the lone remaining unbeaten team in the COC, while Webb City and Nixa have just one loss apiece.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Webb City travels to Ozark (5-2) in Week 8, while Nixa hosts Carl Junction (3-4). 

 

WEBB CITY 28, NIXA 0

Nixa              0     0     0    0—0

Webb City   7     7     7    7—28 

Scoring Summary

WC: Cole Gayman 10-yard run (Cameron Clark kick)

WC: Dupree Jackson 7-yard run (Clark kick)

WC: Cohl Vaden 13-yard pass from Eli Godard (Clark kick)

WC: Gayman 6-yard run (Clark kick)

Returning Class 6 runner-up Joplin Eagles open the season against reigning Class 4 state champion Webb City Cardinals

What a way to kick off the prep football season.

The reigning Class 4 state champion Webb City Cardinals travel to Junge Field to take on the Class 6 runner-up Joplin Eagles in a 7 p.m. season opener to remember.

“I think it is how hard and physical they play,” Joplin coach Curtis Jasper said when asked what trait every Webb City team has that is coached by John Roderique. “We’ve talked about it before, but their offensive line always explodes off the ball and their defensive players always play hard and are very fundamental. They are a very physical and a fundamentally-sound football team.”

This will be the first time the Eagles step onto the field in a game that counts since finishing second in the state at the Class 6 level a year ago. But this game was very much in doubt leading up to the season because of concerns dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. With the season in doubt, getting a chance to take the field in 2020 is something the Eagles will not take for granted.

“Everybody is excited,” Jasper said. “We know how lucky we are to be playing a game, period. Getting to line up against one of our rivals Week 1 is an opportunity we feel lucky to have.

“This week of practice has been really good. I feel like our scout teams have improved tremendously and given us really good looks. I think our kids are dialed in and have good practices all week.”

Leading up to the season opener, there have been some adjustments made outside of the football field. With school now in session, Joplin coaches and players are also trying to navigate the proper safety measures for academia. 

“The school day has been different with it being an A-B schedule,” Jasper said. “So, that takes a transition, but I feel like it is working really well so far. The plan our administration has laid out for the school year has been fantastic. As far as once we get to the football field, that feels normal. You get to the football field and it just feels awesome. Obviously, we are taking all of the precautions, but it’s still football, and it just feels really great being able to go out and work with the kids.”

Focusing on the field, Joplin has five new starters on offense and six new starters on defense. With 11 players making their debut at the varsity level this week, making sure they are prepared has been a point of emphasis for the Joplin coaching staff.

“We want them to lean on their preparation,” Jasper said. “We’ve had a good summer, even with all of the craziness going on. We have had three good weeks of practice. So, be confident in your preparation, be confident in your game plan, relax, and go out and execute.”

Webb City brings an option offense that is always difficult to defend. The biggest task for the Eagles will be slowing down Cardinals senior running back Devrin Weathers, a three-year starter at the position and a Kansas State commit. 

“We have to be very sound in our responsibilities for the option,” Jasper said. “We have to match and exceed their physicality and intensity up front. We have to get everybody to the football and tackle well as a team.”

For the Joplin offense, there will be several new faces in the playmaker positions with the team looking to replace QB Blake Tash, RB Isaiah Davis and WR Zach Westomoreland from graduation. Junior Always Wright will be starting at quarterback, with senior Nathan Glades starting at running back. Glades finished last season with 73 carries for 471 yards and five touchdowns, adding 37 receptions for 508 yards and three touchdowns in the passing attack. Senior Trayshawn Thomas (13 catches, 199 yards, three touchdowns in 2019), juniors Keaton Renfo (12 catches, 185 yards, two touchdowns in 2019), Bruce Wilbert and sophomore Dante Washington will be the starting wideouts for the Eagles.

Joplin’s offensive line will be anchored by senior left tackle Alex Curry — a first-team all-area, conference, district and state lineman — senior center Sergio Piniero — a first-team all-district center — and senior right tackle Davis Ramsey.

“I think the main thing for us to understand is there are going to be two good teams on the football field facing adversity,” Jasper said. “We want to take care of the football, but whatever adversity hits, we want to be able to shake it and move on. When two good teams meet, there are going to be some things you have to stay calm and battle through. The team that does that best will be successful.” 

In a matchup of two of the top teams from their respective classes a year ago, that atmosphere in the stands come game time would normally be exhilarating. However, with the concern for COVID-19 across the country, teams who are lucky enough to play are limiting the capacity of fans attending sporting events.

For the Webb City-Joplin game, Junge will be filled to roughly half capacity (or 2,000 fans) to allow for proper social distancing measures to be taken. Though that is considerably less than what it would have been in a normal year, 2020 is anything but normal, and the Eagles are just grateful to be playing in front of fans at all.

“I try to focus on the positive side of it,” Jasper said. “I recently spoke with an athletic director in another part of the state who said they were only allowing 50 people total in the stands. There was another who said they were allowing just 20 percent. And another coach told me they just had their first day of practice on Monday.

“So, with all of that going on, you just kind of put the other stuff out of your head. We are focusing on A, getting to play, and B, 50-percent capacity is a lot better than in other places. But, the bottom line is that whatever the attendance is, that doesn’t affect what we are trying to accomplish as a team, or the opportunity that we have to be able to play this game and face off against a great opponent.”

HOW TO WATCH 

Fox Sports Joplin’s live stream for Friday’s game can be found here: http://www.citylinktv.com/channel/joplin-web-tv/.