Bennett from the Bleachers: Pioneers shut down Statesmen

Antonio Phillips (21), sophomore,  attempts to block John Thomas (87), sophomore, as catches the pass at the Turkey Day game. (Photo by Bret Waelterman)
Antonio Phillips (21), sophomore, attempts to block John Thomas (87), sophomore, as catches the pass at the Turkey Day game. (Photo by Bret Waelterman)

Bennett Durando
Sports Columnist

The déjà vu began to set in for the Statesmen faithful before the 2014 Turkey Day Game had seen a play from scrimmage.

The opening kickoff went 80 yards for a Kirkwood touchdown, bringing back memories of the disastrous first few minutes of last year’s game, when the Statesmen surrendered 21 points and lost (then) junior all-state defensive back Cam Hilton for the game.

By the time it was all said and done, the Kirkwood Pioneers had defended their ownership of the Frisco Bell with a second straight handling of Webster in the Turkey Day Game, 27-6.

Over the last two years on Thanksgiving, the now Class Six Pioneers have outscored the Statesmen 71-6, with support from their 44-0 rout last year.

Starting at the beginning of last year’s game, Kirkwood went 85 minutes, nine seconds without allowing a point to Webster in Turkey Day play. That streak was snapped early in the fourth quarter when senior Rob Thompson found Hilton for a 47 yard score, the last touchdown the two will hook up for as Statesmen. It’s also Webster’s lone score over the last two Turkey Day Games.

On a snowy Moss Field, Webster’s offense struggled to get into a rhythm against the powerful Pioneer defense. It seemed the Statemen were trying to play to the conditions, keeping the ball on the ground primarily, but couldn’t get consistent yardage running.

“I thought the field would get worse as the game went on, but surprisingly it never got that bad” said Varsity head coach Cliff Ice. “(The conditions) didn’t end up having that big an impact on the game or the outcome.”

Still, at half time the Statesmen were not at all out of the game, down 14-0 and set to receive the ball to start the second half. Between Kirkwood’s stiff defense and Moss’s slick grass though, Webster could never find a way to muster up a comeback.

Kirkwood even had the luck on its side, as a punt deep in its own territory in the third quarter caused mass confusion when the ball deflected off the back off its own defender and went several yards, where a pileup revealed the Pioneers had recovered and were given back possession. That possession turned into Kirkwood’s third touchdown, somewhat of a game-sealer.

“It was 14-0, we got the stop, and apparently on the punt one of our guys touched it,” an unconvinced Ice said. “We would’ve had the ball at their 30-yard line with a chance to get back in the football game, instead they went down and scored.”
“That was a huge momentum change,” said Ice.

Webster will have to look to reclaim the Bell next year, with a large talented senior class missing. It included the two-time first team All-Stater Hilton, two-year starting quarterback Thompson and starting running back Nick Delgado.

It’ll certainly be a different team next year. One can hope that they’ll be the team that either beats that one Class Six rival, or all of Class Five.

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