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.
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.
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 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.”
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
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)