Football Hornets put up little resistance in 40-0 home loss to St. Pius X
CHS not only is blanked, but has just under 100 total yards
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
In a surprisingly-impotent showing in its own way as shocking as their stirring, near-record-setting passing performance only two weeks earlier, the Chillicothe High School football Hornets were overwhelmed by the visiting Kansas City: St. Pius X Warriors 40-0 at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II last Friday.
With a chance to reset themselves as contenders for the Midland Empire Conference crown St. Pius X surprisingly claimed a year ago and to establish the inside track to the top seeding in Class 3 District 8 postseason play, Chillicothe (3-2, 1-2 MEC) produced virtually no positives in any phase of the game.
“We thought we could play a lot closer game with those guys,” Chad Smith, first-year CHS head coach, told the C-T after the contest. “We thought we matched up a lot better than how we played tonight.”
“… If we’re going to beat a team like that (caliber of quality), we’ve got to play more aggressive. They beat us to the punch on both sides of the ball and special teams. We’ve got to come out and play harder to beat teams like that.”
Chillicothe, which played again without senior linebacker/end Brock Ward last Friday, as well as having starting offensive guard Ethan Davis missing, will have a tough assignment to bounce back in its Homecoming game this Friday.
St. Joseph: Lafayette, which has had CHS’ number much of the past decade, will be the opponent.
The Fighting Irish seem to be as explosive offensively as ever and perhaps more so than last year when they still managed to put up 33 points in a win over the Hornets. Twice in the programs’ last four meetings, Lafayette has scored at least 50 points while winning three times.
Thus far this season, behind a free-wheeling passing game which, in week two’s win over Atchison, Kan., saw quarterback Jaron Saunders break the state record for yards with 698 and wide receiver Kingston Oliver do likewise with 398 receiving yards.
Following a season-starting forfeit win over St. Louis: Carnahan, Lafayette has scored 50, 28, 56 and 56 points, respectively, while compiling a 4-1 overall record and 2-0 MEC mark. The only loss came last week against intra-city rival Central by a 63-56 margin in overtime.
“They’re a good football team,” coach Smith assessed the Irish. “They play fast and hard. We’re going to have to match that.”
Last Friday, St. Pius X’s Warriors (5-0, 3-0 MEC) generally did whatever was needed offensively to sustain drives and score points, while defensively disrupting the previously-perking CHS running game by schematically daring the Hornets to pass the ball in anything except long-yardage situations and finding that dare untaken.
Because SPX scored routinely and Chillicothe gained possession of the ball almost exclusively only via kickoffs, the Hornets began nary an offensive series beyond their 31-yard line and had only two start past their 21.
When CHS did have its offense on the field, St. Pius X’s defense let it get very little done. Routinely loading eight or nine defenders in the euphemistic “box” – an area effectively from one end of an offense’s interior line to the other and within seven yards of the line of scrimmage – and, on at least one occasion, all 11 defensive players there, the smallish Warriors linemen used quickness off the snap and low position to get quick penetration and clog up possible running lanes between the tackles with piles of bodies. The nearby four linebackers and free safety then quickly advanced to make hits on often-already-slowed ballcarriers trying to pick their way through the tangle of bodies.
“They were (run) blitzing a lot,” CHS’ Smith confirmed.
As a result, Chillicothe managed only 56 rushing yards on 23 carries in the first half (while also failing to connect on any of its mere six passes), only three of which netted more than three yards.
After intermission, with St. Pius X adding to its 27-0 halftime lead via a time-consuming, 14-plays, 64-yards drive to begin the third quarter and putting the “running clock” into use three minutes before the end of that period, Chillicothe ran only 15 more offensive plays and gained only 42 additional total yards (not counting 15 yards lost via penalties).
It finally moved past its own 40-yard line for the first time in the game on the second-to-last play of the third stanza and reaching SPX territory for the first time when Corbin Rodenberg ran for 11 yards to the SPX 48 on the last play of the third. However, four plays later, the drive died on downs at the 43.
The unofficial 94 yards of total offense by Chillicothe included a tiny three through the air, a total shocking after CHS threw for over 260 in its very-competitive loss to Maryville two weeks earlier.
A couple of early incompletions might have been influenced by the light rain which fell for a while in the opening half and seemed to leave Chillicothe players and play-callers gunshy about trying the air game more later.
“We’ve got to make sure we make those plays and throws in any kind of weather because people will jam ‘the box’ on us,” Smith asserted in his post-game chat with the C-T.
“We’ve got to be able to throw the ball in those types of situations if we’re going to win (a district title).”
Getting outstanding field position numerous times in the game, but also prospering when that wasn’t the case, St. Pius X both ran and passed with great effectiveness, rarely running the same play or attacking the same portion of the field or the Hornets defense more than once or twice a possession.
The Warriors used their diversity and success to unofficially rack up a 170-10 advantage in first-quarter total yardage and a 225-56 margin in the first half. By intermission, the north Kansas City Catholic school’s team had rushed for 122 yards and thrown for another 102.
Early unofficial statistics had St. Pius X with another 155 yards of total offense in the accelerated final 24 minutes, leaving it with a game advantage of about 325-100.
The game’s only turnover was a desperation third-and-long CHS pass being picked off just short of midfield and returned to the CHS 5.
That pass theft actually set up the game’s only Chillicothe highlight as the defense held – in a manner of speaking – on downs at the 2. The fourth-down play saw a wide-open Warriors receiver drop a would-be touchdown throw in the end zone.
The game’s tone was set – unexpectedly in quick-drying concrete – from the outset.
After Chillicothe went 3-and-out on the opening possession, SPX capitalized on a short punt to go 47 yards on six plays for the game’s first touchdown at the 7:44 mark of the first period. Fullback Shane Dorian went in standing up from 13 yards out on a quick hitter.
Less than 2-1/2 minutes later, quarterback Jack Mosh completed a 4-plays, 66-yards scoring foray with a 1-yard sneak one play after a Warriors receiver went up over two unsuspecting CHS pass defenders to pull in a 45-yards pass at the Hornets’ 1.
Before the first quarter ended, the guests made it 20-0 when Mosh went 14 yards on a zone-read carry up the pipe, completing a 6-plays, 56-yards sequence.
When Chillicothe’s only sustained possession of the first three quarters died and it punted short again late in the second stanza, St. Pius X had no problem covering the needed 62 yards in eight plays in a mere 1:19. Mosh’s 8-yards toss to running back Robbie Sharp made it – with the extra-point kick – 27-0 43 ticks ahead of halftime.
Mosh and Sharp then added scoring runs of one and 35 yards in the third quarter to speed up the rest of the game.
“We’ve got to work really hard to finish out the season to get a chance to play them again (for a district title),” coach Smith declared. “There are some things we definitely need to improve on.”
Statistically, no Chillicothe ballcarrier had more than 33 yards individually and that required 18 carries for senior fullback Damarcus Kelow to achieve. All told, the Hornets’ 35 running plays netted a mere 93 yards with barely one-fourth of the attempts (nine) generating more than three yards.
The passing game was even less effective, going one for eight for three yards and including one interception.
Chillicothe finished with a mere four first downs, compared to SPX’s 18.
The Warriors’ Robbie Sharp ran for 93 yards and the final touchdown, while Mosh had 77 ground yards on 11 “RPO” (run-pass option) carries and scrambles and completed seven of his 13 throws for 119 yards. Senior Mosh ran for two scores and threw for a third.