Category Archive: High School Football
It’s been a fascinating and exciting run through the MSHSAA Class 2 playoffs, but it all comes to an end on Saturday afternoon as the Maplewood Blue Devils fall to the Lamar Tigers 20-7 in the semifinals.
Maplewood (11-3) had played inspired football week in and week out throughout their tremendous season. Whether a blowout or a tight game, the Blue Devils were always a fun team to watch. Explosive on both sides of the ball, on the ground, and through the air. However, they could not get things rolling in Lamar.
Following Maplewood’s thrilling comeback win over Caruthersville in the quarterfinal round, it seemed inevitable that the Blue Devils would make another patented comeback in this contest, but it was not to be. On a windy day in Lamar, the passing attack never got rolling, and the Lamar defense suffocated the normally potent Maplewood running game.
On Lamar’s second drive of the day, it became apparent that Maplewood’s run defense would not be quite up for the task as Lamar’s was. Jared Beshore took the ball 63 yards for the first touchdown of the day. He finished the day as the game’s leading rusher with 177 yards on the ground.
Maplewood’s offense could not get in a rhythm in the first half, but Lamar kept the Blue Devils in the game. They committed three turnovers (two on downs, one fumble by Markell White) in the red zone to keep a small lead that could have been astronomical.
After the White fumble late in the second half, it looked like Maplewood had something going on offense until Kahlid Hagens threw an interception to Landon Compton. It was only Hagens’ sixth pick of the year, but it was most certainly the biggest. Lamar then marched down the field and scored again on an eight yard touchdown dump pass from Levi Peterson to running back Markell White. Peterson only attempted two passes on the day and completed them both to White for 16 yards total.
Down 14-0 in the third quarter, the Blue Devils made a stand in the red zone to get another turnover on downs and to take the ball from the Tigers. A short drive was soon capped off by Maplewood’s biggest offensive play of the day as PJ Grady-Liska busted through a hole in the middle of the field and into the end zone from 70 yards out.
Only down a touchdown now and with the defense making a stand, the Blue Devils seemed to have enough momentum to come back in the game. Beshore fumbled to give the Blue Devils good field position as they began to march down the field on their most impressive drive of the game. However, that drive came to a disastrous end as Kahlid Hagens tried to escape the pocket and fumbled the ball away. Lamar then took it down the field and into the end zone to make the score 20-7 with two minutes left in the game.
Maplewood attempted to come back, but on such a windy day and with Lamar knowing the pass was coming, Hagens could not connect with any of his receivers as the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs and the Tigers were able to run out the clock on their way to a victory that will bring them to St. Louis next Friday to play in the Edward Jones Dome for the Class 2 State Championship.
It’s a disappointing end for Maplewood to say the least. After losing in the state title game last year, this team was hungry to get back and win the trophy. Unfortunately for them, they fell a step short of being able to play for that dream. The Blue Devils had their lowest scoring output of the season, as they also scored 7 in their contest with Brentwood in the sectional round. They also suffered their most lopsided loss of the season as their previous two losses had been by one point each.
This is a young Blue Devils squad that will only graduate four seniors. This continuity should help Maplewood to find themselves back in this position next season and be better prepared for it. With that said, it will take time to get over the sting of this loss for Coach Sterling Finney and his squad. Whenever they begin prepping for next season, undoubtedly, they’ll be able to use this as fuel for the fire.
We at The Galaxy Radio congratulate the Maplewood Blue Devils on a wonderful season and look forward to bringing all of the action next year as the Blue Devils reload to take this same march through Class 2; and hopefully next time, that march will lead them to their ultimate goal: a State Championship.
The Maplewood Blue Devils football team came into this season with one goal: to make it back to the Class 2 State Title Game, and to win it this time. They came one step closer to that ultimate goal on Wednesday night as they won their first playoff game of the 2011 campaign, dominating the Principia Panthers in a 38-0 route.
It was not the flashiest effort by the Blue Devils, but it was one of the most well rounded games played this season as they improved to 9-2 on the season and won their seventh straight. The team rushed for over 200 yards, and gained over 250 through the air. Special teams came up big as they blocked a field goal to preserve the shutout, and recovered a botched snap on an attempted punt to set up their first score of the night, a 3 yard run by Kahlid Hagens.
This was just the beginning of a big night for Hagens as he completed 11 of 16 passes for 252 yards and 2 TD’s, while rushing for 19 yards and 2 TD’s on the ground. Hagens was a marksman all night with his passes right on the money every throw, as his receivers occasionally let him down with some drops. None proved more costly than late in the third quarter when Hagens threw a pass to the end zone from 20 yards out, and the ball bounced off the hands of his receiver and into the hands of a well placed defender for Hagens’ third interception of the season.
Hagens’ clinic on passing was highlighted by his 71 yard bomb to Karon Thomas for the Blue Devils’ second score of the game. This comes on the heels of a 72 yard TD connection from Hagens to Thomas in the previous game.
The dynamic Thomas has been the star of the show for four straight games now as he also added a 65 yard TD run in the first quarter to put the Blue Devils up 21-0 as he rushed down the sidelines, brushing off any defenders who dared try to tackle him.
The running game was a big factor as the Panthers’ defense could not contain the Blue Devils’ torrid attack. PJ Grady-Liska rushed for 77 yards, while Freshman Elijah Keely added on 37 of his own.
What gets lost in the shuffle of these blowouts is how well the Blue Devils’ defense preforms. They shut out Principia, who barely even sniffed the end zone in the game. The Panthers seemed intent on running the ball, and Maplewood responded. They gave up yards, but they consistently had pressure in the backfield and made the stops when they counted.
Coach Sterling Finney knows how badly his team wants to win and sees that through their outstanding play.
“Well it’s simple,” says Finney, “You win or go home. That’s enough motivation for our kids, especially for our seniors, and even the underclassmen. We try to do it right now, because it’s not guaranteed that you can do it in the future. We’re trying to take advantage of our situation.”
Finney knows he doesn’t need to do anything to motivate his players, their desire to be champs is all the motivation that they need.
“They’re very excited, and they’re very hungry,” says Finney, “we just gotta take it one step at a time…and see where we end up.”
The Maplewood Blue Devils will play their next game on Monday on the road, either taking on Carnahan, or rival Brentwood, both of whom they have defeated during the regular season. However, Finney says that regular season success doesn’t hold as much weight during the playoffs.
“(Starting the playoffs) Everybody’s record is 0-0. So we have to take our opponent who’s in front of us…and that’s where we’re at.”
Listen to Coach Finney Pregame Interview