CHS improves to 8-2 in 2019 with runaway victory in Class 3 District 8 opener Friday (Nov. 1)

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Effectively, a couple of quick facts about Friday’s (Nov. 1) Class 3 District 8 quarterfinals football game between the host Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Hornets and guest Kansas City: Southeast sum up how the expected blowout played out according to the script, ending with a 61-12 spread.
Already solidly ahead 26-6 entering the final 20 seconds of the opening half, Chillicothe scored two touchdowns in the last eight seconds of the half to spike its margin to 40-6 at the break.
Southeast’s passing attack generated the lion’s share of the Knights’ total offense, netting 123 yards. However, the host Hornets actually gained more yards than the Kansas City team did when Southeast threw the ball, returning three interceptions – including one no the game’s last play – a total of 126 yards. CHS also matched the Knights’ scoring output on passes Southeast threw, allowing one TD and scoring one themselves on Colten Sewell’s late “pick six.”
With three final-period touchdowns – the first on a 1-yard run by one of the senior starting guards, another by the backup quarterback with all reserves on the offensive unit, and, finally, Sewell’s theft and 57-yards runback, Chillicothe posted at least 60 points in its district-playoffs opener for the third time in four years and the most tallies it has had in any game since clobbering KC: Lincoln Prep 63-7 in the 2016 district debut.
Friday’s victory over Southeast (1-9) sends Chillicothe (8-2) into the district semifinals, where it will host a quite-familiar opponent – St. Joseph: Benton. Benton’s Cardinals (2-8), the district’s No. 6 seed, eliminated No. 3 seed Kansas City: Pembroke Hill 40-27 Friday to earn a second crack at CHS in three weeks. The Hornets turned back Benton 42-7 in last week’s regular-season finale.
The other District 8 semifinal next Friday will have top seed Savannah (8-2) at home against Cameron (5-5) as all four of the district’s Midland Empire Conference squads prevailed in round one of the postseason.
Chillicothe’s sixth triumph in its last seven games projected to come with plenty of cushion and it quickly became clear that would come to pass.
On the Hornets’ first series after receiving the game’s opening kickoff – which preceded by a moment of silence for late CHS coaching legend Bob Fairchild, who died at age 87 last Saturday (Oct. 26), halfback Kam Ward threw right on target down the left sideline to Sewell for a 41-yards score on the halfback-option pass.
A 4-yards scoring run by Isaih Kille and Jaden Winder’s 1-yard sneak 12 seconds before the opening stanza ended left CHS on top 20-0 after 12 minutes.
After Southeast’s Dremel Jackson caught an 8-yards touchdown pass – a score he set up by pulling the ball away from a Hornets ballcarrier in mid-run – to make it 20-6, CHS countered less than two minutes later with K. Ward’s 1-yard TD carry.
After Southeast – both going for broke and with little to lose, since its punter didn’t get much distance on his kicks – unsuccessfully ran from punt formation on a fourth-and-18 from its own 34 with a couple of minutes left in the first half, Chillicothe methodically moved the 46 yards it needed to cover in nine running plays to score again. From the 6, K. Ward was sent wide and bounced off an attempted big hit at the 2 to carry it on in standing up eight seconds before halftime. Jamacin Carr’s conversion kick made it 33-6, which everyone assumed would be the halftime score.
However, using the game setting for some experimentation on multiple occasions, the host team had Carr attempt a “pooch” kickoff after K. Ward’s second touchdown run. When the senior kickoff popped the ball perfectly over the front row of Southeast blockers toward the CHS sideline and got the desired straight-up bounce, junior coverage “gunner” Dan Hoel easily beat a Knight farther downfield to the ball, giving Chillicothe possession right away again with seven ticks still on the clock.
After another option pass attempt – this one from Isaak Rasche – fell incomplete with two seconds remaining in the half, the call was for senior quarterback Jaden Winder to make the last-gasp throw. He did so perfectly, leaving Southeast’s defenders gasping with a perfectly-measured throw deep down the left side to Sewell, dropping the high-arching ball just beyond the inside safety and almost straight down into Sewell’s grasp about six yards deep in the end zone as time expired.
With another Carr conversion kick, the Hornets led 40-6 going to the locker room less than 10 seconds of game time after being in front by only 20.
To Southeast’s credit, it did not bow to the seeming inevitable and surrendered a third-quarter score that would have begun use of the “running clock” timekeeping provisions.
After Chillicothe missed a short field goal attempt midway through the third stanza, the Knights marched 80 yards in seven plays – three of them pass completions for more than 20 yards each – to post their second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run by Rayford Parks. However, when it again did not convert, it left open the opportunity for the Hornets to take the 35-points lead needed to start the “running clock and Chillicothe took it.
On the 10th play – again all on the ground – of the Hornets’ subsequent possession, 265-pounds senior guard Brock Gott – used as a power formation fullback on multiple occasions this season – plowed into the end zone from a yard away on his only carry of the game. One play into the fourth quarter, another Carr point-after kick created the 47-12 lead that sped up the rest of the contest.
Chillicothe’s next offensive series came after a short Southeast punt and sophomore No. 2 quarterback Gage Leamer, after faking a handoff inside, kept on the option play and turned the corner on the left side for a 14-yards TD run.
That could have been the final score had Southeast chosen to roll over, but it didn’t. Attempting a long pass to his right, Knights quarterback Brandon Brown had the ball far well short, coming down in the hands of Sewell at the CHS 43. The senior safety immediately set sail the other way with his second interception of the game and team-leading third of the season. When he zipped between a pair of would-be tacklers at about the SHS 25, he found clear sailing the rest of the way as he posted his third touchdown of the game. When Gott subbed for Carr and nailed the extra-point kick, Chillicothe had the 61-12 lead with 2:07 remaining.
Adding one last bit of CHS thievery came on the game’s final play. Admirably still trying to produce one last scoring play, the Knights attempted another long pass as time was running out, but Hornets junior reserve safety Tucker Wagers plucked it from the skies and ran it back 37 yards to the SHS 15 as time ran out.
Statistically, the numbers were reflective of the scoreboard count. Preliminary statistics show CHS unofficially gained 423 yards to Southeast’s 151. The Hornets ran for 317, while the Knights managed only 28 yards on 20 attempts.
Chillicothe had a 5-2 advantage in the turnovers category, a 22-7 gap in first downs, and also absorbed by far a season low of two penalties for 30 yards.