Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Football Hornets Finish Savannah This Time
Dominant offensive line play paces CHS Hornets' 42-0 district-semifinal runaway Friday (Nov. 5)
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — There was no late-game letdown by the Chillicothe HS Hornets this time when they matched up again with fellow Midland Empire Conference member Savannah in Class 3 District 8 football.
The teams’ regular-season meeting at Savannah, with the host Savages minus their starting quarterback, had seen CHS control most of the first three quarters and own a 19-0 lead, yet have to sweat it out at the end before departing for home with a 19-13 verdict.
As seemed certain at that time, by virtue of that victory, Chillicothe wound up the No. 2 seed for the current playoffs and Savannah No. 3, meaning the Hornets would host the nearly-certain rematch in the district semifinals.
At the end of three quarters in Friday’s (Nov. 5) round two, the score and story line was very similar with Chillicothe’s running attack controlling the action and the clock and giving CHS a 21-0 advantage.
This time, though, there was no reversal of form down the stretch, but rather simply continued dominance by Chillicothe’s offensive line that led to over 300 rushing yards in what finished as a 42-0 Hornets romp.
Chillicothe (8-3) moves on to the district-championship game at Kansas City against 9-1 host St. Pius X next Friday (Nov. 12). Among Pius’ nine regular-season wins was a dominating 40-0 blowout of the Hornets in Chillicothe in week five.
Friday’s CHS victory saw senior fullback Damarcus Kelow, a 2020 workhorse ballcarrier who racked up about 1,300 yards as a junior before being nagged virtually all of this campaign by a lower leg injury, seem to make clear that he’s fully hale and hearty now. He handling the ball 35 times and gaining a career-best 193 rushing yards, reaching paydirt three times on short bursts.
While he was banging inside and slanting outside, classmate Braxten Johnson was dashing around left end time and again – including the game’s first four offensive snaps (one negated by a CHS penalty) – to the tune of 67 yards on only seven carries before departing in the second period with an apparent leg injury. Also the team’s starting free safety and second-leading tackler, he walked off limping, but under his own power.
Not that he proved to be needed, the Hornets continued to play without senior starting linebacker/end Brock Ward, out since the season opener.
Chillicothe’s first five touchdown marches lasted between eight and 17 plays, even though a couple covered less than 40 yards.
With the host Hornets leading 13-0 in the middle of the second quarter, thanks to Kelow’s 3-yards TD run that capped a Johnson-fueled first drive of the game and Johnson’s own 15-yards dash around left end to the pylon early in the second segment, a high snap over the would-be SHS punter’s head – neither side wound up punting all night – handed the ball back to Chillicothe at the Savages’ 37 with 4:53 left in the opening half.
Eight plays later, Kelow stretched an off-right tackle play to the outside and won the footrace to the goal line. With a successful conversion pass from quarterback Gage Leamer to leaping, 6’3” tight end Griff Bonderer, the home team upped its advantage to 21-0 only 40 seconds ahead of intermission.
That spread still was intact when the fourth quarter began after the third stanza was consumed by two possessions – a half-starting 10-plays sequence by the Savages which was halted at the CHS 14 by linebacker Ga. Leamer’s fourth-and-2 stop of the ballcarrier for a 2-yards loss and Chillicothe’s subsequent 14-plays push from its 14 to the SHS 11.
Continuing its drive as the final frame commenced, Chillicothe put the victory on ice three snaps later when Kelow slammed in standing up from three yards away 1:05 into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets went on to add a 10-plays, 39-yards scoring series capped by Brock Miller’s 1-yard run with 3:44 remaining and, one play following Miller’s interception at the Hornets’ 41 on the first play of the ensuing Savages possession, a 59-yards bomb from Ga. Leamer to Bonderer.
Chillicothe’s offense put up touchdowns on six of its seven series in the game, misfiring only in the second period when a short pass from Ga. Leamer bounced off Miller’s hands into the grasp of SHS’ Matt Collier. Despite taking over at the CHS 31, Savannah could not get any points out of the takeaway.
Statistically, led by the 260 combined yards from Kelow and Johnson, Chillicothe carried for 308 and had 372 yards of total offense to Savannah’s 174. Each side had the one turnover via interception.
Miller’s pickoff was his second of the season. Kelow’s yardage pushed his injury-crimped season total to a team-best 531.
Defensively, Ga. Leamer had a CHS-most nine tackles – seven unassisted, Freshman end Silas Midgyett not far behind with seven total – all solo, although three of them came on kickoff coverage.