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Sharp Start by Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Football Hornets Dissolves into 62-7 Loss at Maryville

Paul Sturm
Braxten Johnson, senior free safety of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS football Hornets leaps at the CHS 2-yard line to intercept a Maryville pass intended for Connor Weiss. That was about the only defensive bright spot for Chillicothe, as it fell 62-7 at Maryville.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

MARYVILLE, Mo. — A storybook beginning for the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS football Hornets to their 2020 Midland Empire Conference opener against the Maryville Spoofhounds not surprisingly abruptly segued into a grisly slasher film on the home team’s offense took the field Friday (Sept. 11).

The still-inexperienced Hornets, heavy underdogs as they called on the defending league champs, stunned their hosts – and perhaps even themselves – by grinding out a vintage-CHS 20-plays, 73-yards touchdown march which consumed close to 10 minutes on the contest’s opening possession.

Maryville’s offense responded much more rapidly, skimming the ball 62 yards to paydirt in six plays and less than two minutes to close the gap to 7-6. That set a pattern of MHS scoring efficiency which ultimately produced a 62-7 Spoofhounds romp.

When the second CHS series went 3-and-out, including a pair of Hornets infractions, a potential break which might have – but, then again, realistically probably would not have – altered the game favorably for the Hornets (0-3, 0-1 conf.) went in the hosts’ favor.

Punting from inside their own 20, the Hornets got away a relatively-short kick of less than 30 yards. However, as one of two MHS potential return men tried to catch Griff Bonderer’s boot, it squirted through his hands and a couple of yards ahead of him, right toward the onrushing Chillicothe coverage unit.

However, instead of the ball finding its way into the hands of a Hornet, it rolled right to the other potential returner, Connor Weiss, as he was lunging forward to try to block the first CHS player arriving in the vicinity. Instead of Chillicothe essentially continuing possession in better field position at their 35, the ’Hounds’ offense, which already had produced Weiss’ 21-yards scoring trek around left end, returned to the field and picked up where it had left off.

After gaining a first down at the Hornets’ 18, senior running back Trey Houchin slipped out of the backfield on the right side, gathered in Conner Drake’s short pass in the open and on the run at about the 15, and dashed up the sideline for the go-ahead score 1:33 into the second stanza.

Maryville (2-1, 1-0 conf.) eventually scored every time it had the ball except two, turning the game into an ever-widening rout.

The only stops the Chillicothe defense, which was without two starters – juniors Brock Ward at linebacker and Christian Peniston at nose guard, got were when the ’Hounds took possession at their own 15 with five seconds left in the first half and in the third period when, after the Hornets – trailing 35-7 – turned the ball over on downs at their own 25, a first-play pass was niftily intercepted by free safety Braxten Johnson at the CHS 2.

Johnson’s theft typically proved to be only a temporary reprieve from the MHS points deluge. Four plays after it, one of three second-half fumbles CHS lost was followed by a 23-yards touchdown pass to senior running back Weiss for his third TD of the game.

After successfully inching the ball down the field, including four Gage Leamer quarterback sneaks that moved the yardsticks and a final one from a yard out on third-and-goal for the score, on their opening possession, the Hornets unofficially managed to net an additional 130 total yards the rest of the way. Their 198 total yards in 66 snaps was dwarfed by Maryville’s 424 yards of offense, 372 of which came on only 33 carries.

Weiss, unable to play the previous week while quarantined for possible exposure to COVID-19, exposed the Hornets’ defense to the heels of his shoes nearly every time he touched the ball.  He gained 138 yards on a mere seven carries in addition to his scoring reception.

Chillicothe’s best performer on the night appeared to be Johnson, who caught four passes for 39 yards and, defensively, was in on multiple tackles in addition to his pickoff.

In an ominous sign, considering they already were minus two starters and a would-be primary reserve at game’s start, Chillicothe saw starting offensive end Max Wagers’ night end on the opening kickoff he returned. According to Hornets head coach Tim Rulo after the game, the sophomore suffered a shoulder injury.

Then, on the team’s first offensive play from scrimmage, senior right tackle Josh Watterson could not arise initially. He left, replaced by Nick Greenslate, but did manage to return to the fray later.

CHS now will shift focus to trying to salvage its Homecoming game against Cameron next Friday.

Cameron (2-1) could not follow up its blowout, shutout wins over two dismal Kansas City public school teams when it opened MEC play Friday. The Dragons were dispatched 42-22 at home by Kansas City: St. Pius X.

Blocks by left guard Nick Greenslate, at right, and center Anderson De Jesus and right guard Trace Rardon provide a crease for 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS football Hornets quarterback Gage Leamer to sneak through and gain the three yards necessary for a first down at the Maryville 16-yard line in the first period of the teams' Friday, Sept. 11, game at Maryville. Five snaps later, Leamer sneaked across the goal line from a yard away to give CHS a 6-0 lead. The ensuing extra-point kick by Ben Pithan proved to be the Hornets' last scoring in the game, though, as Maryville soared away to a 62-7 triumph.