Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Football Hornets Meet Expectations in 2021-starting 27-8 Win at Marshall

Hornets' offense scores on four possessions in row, defense blanks Owls until fourth period Aug. 27

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Senior linebacker Brock Ward, left, of the 2021 Chillicothe High School football Hornets completes a sack of a Marshall Owls quarterback during CHS' 27-8 season-opening victory at Marshall Friday, Aug. 27. The win was especially rewarding for Ward, who suffered an injury which effectively ended his junior season after less than a game in last year's clash with Marshall.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

MARSHALL, Mo. — Projected to have a strong bounce-back season after going 3-8 last year, the 2021 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS football Hornets met about every expectation in their debut Friday (Aug. 27), presenting new head coach Chad Smith with a victory in his first outing in the post.

First-year head coach Chad Smith of the 2021 Chillicothe High School football Hornets has a smile on his face during the team's 27-8 season-opening victory at Marshall Friday, Aug. 27. Approaching Smith at right is assistant/defensive co-coordinator Roman Cranmer. CHS has its 2021 home opener against Kirksville next Friday.

Immediately establishing very helpful great field position when Marshall failed on either an intentional or inadvertent onside kick to begin the game, Chillicothe pounced on an Owls special-teams mistake – a too-high snap from center on a punt attempt after the hosts’ 3-and-out first possession to get their first touchdown of the season and never let the Owls seriously threaten them the rest of the way in a 27-8 CHS triumph.

After freshman starting defensive end Silas Midgyett recovered the ball at the MHS 30 on the bad punt snap, the Hornets converted the excellent field position into a TD in only four plays. Senior fullback Damarcus Kelow, who would sit out the entire second half after sustaining what appeared to be a minor lower leg injury on the last of his 12 carries that netted 106 yards, broke a 20-yards run off right tackle on the first HS offensive play after the turnover. Three snaps later, he powered into the end zone fro two yards out and sophomore James Mathew added the first of his three conversion kicks at the 4:08 mark of the first period.

Already having gained about 20 yards on a carry around right end, senior fullback Damarcus Kelow of the 2021 Chillicothe High School football Hornets prepares to use a stiff-arm to pick up a few more on a late-first-period run at Marshall Friday, Aug. 27. Kelow gained 106 rushing yards while playing only a half of CHS' 27-8 season-opening victory.

Following another stop by the Chillicothe defense on only three Marshall snaps, a 21-yards punt return by Griff Bonderer set the Hornets’ offense up with the ball at the Owls’ 39. Again a 4-plays drive covered the abbreviated distance with senior quarterback Gage Leamer going the last two yards on a sneak on the first play of quarter No. 2.

After Marshall finally had a momentary taste of offensive success on its third series, it had to punt yet again. A holding penalty on the Hornets during the return caused them to start the drive at their own 21 with 6:19 to go in the half.

Undaunted, Chillicothe possessed the ball for the next six minutes exactly with another long Kelow run – his third of the game – and two later short passes to Braxten Johnson from Ga. Leamer set up frosh Midgyett’s impressive 5-yards scoring run off right ta tackle on the initial carry of his varsity career and 13th play of the march 19 seconds ahead of intermission.

Junior linebacker Corbin Rodenberg of the 2021 Chillicothe High School football Hornets drags down Marshall's quarterback for a second-period sack Friday, Aug. 27. Rodenberg had a very busy and productive game of tackling, blocking, and running the ball in CHS' 27-8 season-opening victory.

The 21-0 halftime lead expanded when the Hornets found paydirt on a fourth possession in a row the first time they had the ball in the last half. An 11-plays, 62-yards trek concluded with Ga. Leamer, on a fourth-and-1 from the 6 not only getting the first down on a sneak, but popping out of a pile to go into the end zone standing up for his second score at the 3:58 mark of the third period.

Marshall avoided a shutout when wide receiver/running back Axaviar Reed used a well-timed cutback move on a sweep of right end to sprint 46 yards to the CHS 6, setting up Isaac Jackson’s touchdown run on the succeeding snap on the Owls’ first possession of the last quarter. By then, Chillicothe was utilizing several reserves on the defensive side of the ball.

Continuing a noteworthy high school football debut, 2021 Chillicothe High School Hornets freshman Silas Midgyett (center) dives to beat a Marshall player to a loose ball after a fumbled snap by the Owls in the fourth quarter of the clubs' season-opening contest at Marshall Friday, Aug. 27. The visiting Hornets snared a  27-8 victory with Midgyett recovering a pair of fumbles and rushing for nearly 50 yards and one touchdown.

Statistically, Kelow’s 106 yards on 12 first-half totes and freshman Midgyett’s two fumble recoveries, touchdown run, and 45 yards on eight rushes were Chillicothe’s individual highlights. With a 32-yards dash on his last carry, MHS’ Reed reached 101 yards on 11 carries.

Team-wise, after out-gaining Marshall 76 yards to minus-8 in the first quarter and 152-1 in the opening half, the Hornets finished 281-175 advantage in total yardage.

Chillicothe had three of the game’s four takeaways with junior safety Max Wagers adding an end-zone interception late in the third period to Midgyett’s pair of recoveries. The Hornets’ lone turnover was in the fourth quarter when a long Ga. Leamer pass toward Brock Ward was picked off.

Chillicothe will play Kirksville in the Hornets’ home opener next Friday.