Score Class 3 District 8 semifinal game's last 25 points, produce trio of triple-digits rushers Friday (Nov. 8) to improve to 9-2, reach district finals and first-round of 2019 state play
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Just as happened a year ago, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ football Hornets bested St. Joseph: Benton by a solid margin in the teams’ regular-season finales. Just as in 2018, the squads soon had a rematch in the Class 3 district playoffs.
Sure enough on Friday night (Nov. 8, 2019), just as happened 12 months earlier, underdog Benton was right in the thick of the second go-around on Bob Fairchild Field at Chillicothe’s Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II.
Fortunately for CHS, the resemblance between last year and this didn’t stop there.
Behind Benton 20-14 at halftime a year ago, the Hornets found their game on both sides of the ball and posted 27 unanswered points in the last 24 minutes to soar away to a 41-20 triumph.
On Friday, leading only 19-14 less than two minutes before halftime, one thunderclap run jarred Chillicothe fully awake and it rode that shockwave to the game’s last 25 tallies and a 44-14 victory that gives CHS its latest appearance – No. 26 overall – in the state playoffs.
Thirteen months after owning a 0-7 record in head coach Tim Rulo’s first season guiding the storied program, Chillicothe owns victories in 12 of its last 15 games and is preparing for the Class 3 District 8 championship contest that also is the state playoffs’ round-of-16 contest.
That game will occur at Savannah next Friday, Nov. 14, after Savannah stomped Cameron 56-14, as expected, in its district semifinal Friday. Both teams will enter the district-title game 9-2, but Savannah gets to host it because of its 49-14 smackdown of the Hornets at Savannah in week seven of the regular season.
Chillicothe’s second triumph over Benton in three weeks Friday – last year, the teams played in consecutive games to end the regular season and start the district playoffs – featured plenty of positives, but some notable negatives, chief of which is the probable loss of the services of versatile senior defender and alternate fullback Isaih Kille for the rest of the season.
Kille, who missed virtually all of his junior campaign with a right knee injury sustained in the second quarter of the opening game, appeared to suffer a significant left leg injury while joining teammate Isaac Washburn in making a tackle on a scrambling Benton quarterback Caden Stone early in the third period Friday.
Barely dented by injuries of consequence to this point of their outstanding season – a trend seemingly established in the season opener at Marshall when starting safety/wide receiver Colten Sewell was feared to have a major knee injury after making a tackle, but the problem turned out to be one he could continue playing with and he did not miss a game, Chillicothe presumably will be without Kille for its most-important game of the season.
There also were unconfirmed reports that one or more other CHS first-teamers might have come away from the Benton win with an injury that might keep them out of action at Savannah.
On the brighter side of Friday’s contest, which the host Hornets never trailed after senior wingback Isaak Rasche burst 70 yards around right end for a score on CHS’ fourth offensive play (one of which was a Benton penalty), there apparently was an historic, if somewhat eclectic, offensive performance by one Chillicothean and several others which had not been accomplished for a while.
As best as can be determined from research of C-T records kept since 2002 and statistics researched a couple of decades from various sources (including C-T editions of the past) by Randy Dean, the 120 rushing yards by 2019 Hornets senior quarterback Jaden Winder in Friday’s triumph are the most by a CHS quarterback since the early 1960s and likely well beyond that, if not the most ever.
They definitely are the most since the start of the Bob Fairchild coaching era in 1963 (individual statistical records for yardage are sketchy, at best, prior to then). However, what wasn’t realized at the time was that the previous high for a Chillicothe quarterback in that half-century-plus span had been set by Winder only three games earlier when he netted 103 yards in the win at Kansas City, Kan.: Wyandotte.
His big night against Benton was highlighted by what assuredly was the game’s pivotal play – his 53-yards touchdown run on an option-play keeper to the left side with just under two minutes left in the first half.
Chillicothe, leading only 19-14 at that juncture, facing a third-and-6 situation at the time and had it failed to get enough yards for the first down might have punted the ball on fourth down. If that happened, assuming Benton did not fumble the punt return, the visitors would have regained possession with nearly two minutes left in the half, hoping to repeat what they’d just done offensively.
On the prior BHS possession, they’d needed only two plays – both passes – to go 66 yards to score on a possession which lasted only a half-minute. A repeat of that would have, in all likelihood, given them a halftime lead against the favored Hornets, just like last year’s playoff game.
Instead, Winder’s unexpected dash gave Chillicothe a 2-scores lead at halftime and began the string of 25 consecutive CHS points that turned the game into a blowout by the fourth quarter.
Winder eventually ran for three touchdowns in the game, raising his season total to a team-leading 15. That might well be a program record, as well.
The senior signalcaller didn’t limit his productivity and points production to carrying the ball over the goal line himself.
Less than two minutes after Rasche’s dash had given Chillicothe the lead, Winder fired a 31-yards scoring strike to classmate Colten Sewell for a 12-0 Hornets lead.
The hookup – the fourth game in a row the duo has connected for six points – gave Winder 10 TD passes on the season and Sewell five such receptions. In both cases, that is the high mark for a Hornet since the 2008 season when Tyler Trammell threw for 14 scores and Bryce Young hauled in eight TD tosses.
Also in the “been a while since that happened” column, Friday’s contest saw Chillicothe’s blockers and backs mesh to the point of producing three ballcarriers with at least 100 yards.
After carrying the ball only five times for 20 yards in the first half, senior fullback Dawson Wheeler – the Hornets’ top ground-gainer for the season despite sharing time and carries with Kille – burrowed and slashed his way through the Cardinals’ defense for 111 yards on 11 post-intermission totes.
That came as Winder was having his unprecedented ball-carrying night – he had 87 of his before halftime – and Rasche was slipping across the 100-yards barrier in the late going.
Getting only one rush in each of the first three quarters, senior Rasche was at 70 yards entering the final stanza. Then, on the first play of the last quarter, with Chillicothe up 31-14, but the win not yet salted away, he carried around left end and looked to be headed for a 53-yards touchdown run of his own, only to be caught from behind and tumble to the turf after a pickup of 29 yards. Although no one was aware of it at the time, he stood one yard shy of joining his pair of teammates in triple figures.
After Wheeler added to his total with a 15-yards pickup to the BHS 3 on the next snap, Rasche got the call on first-and-goal from there and cracked in off the right side, the three yards on his last attempt of the night boosting his output to 102 yards and two touchdowns.
That sub-category achievement of three 100-yards rushers in the same game had last been done for the Hornets on Oct. 24, 2014, when Luke Plummer (170), Aaron Baker (110), and DeEll Midgyett (101) had done it. Prior to that, it had happened first in 1987 (David White, Hamilton Trinidad, and Travis Clark) and then again in 2004 (Clint Macoubrie, Michael Marriott, and Brent Christopher).
In addition to Rasche, Winder, and Sewell reaching paydirt in Friday’s victory, Wheeler scored on a 14-yards run in the third quarter as CHS started to pull away. With his game-high 131 rushing yards, the senior boosted his season total to 961, clearly giving him a crack at a 1,000-yards season with at least one more game to play. With Kille presumably unavailable, Wheeler figures to play nearly full-time at fullback at Savannah, a team he gained 111 yards against in the first meeting.
Winder’s century night running the ball put him close to 800 for the year (780). By all indications, his season total is a team record for a quarterback also.
If Kille indeed is out for the season – whether that’s multiple games or only one, he did manage to gain just enough yards – 25 – on eight carries against Benton to edge past 600 for the year (604).
Rasche’s career night left him at 480. Should be reach 500, initial examination of CHS record books suggests it would the first time in the program’s great history of running the ball that four players have all rushed for at least 500 yards in the same season.