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California gets another semifinal shot at Maryville

Listen to the game live online via pintosonline.com or via KVVL (Maryville, Mo.)

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CALIFORNIA, Mo. — It’s the same game a year later.

The California Pintos meet the Maryville Spoofhounds in a Class 3 semifinal at 1:30 p.m. today at Riley Field with the winner earning a berth in the Class 3 championship game next Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

California and Maryville faced off in a Class 3 semifinal last season, with the Spoofhounds claming a 42-7 victory at home. Maryville went on to defeat John Burroughs 35-22 in the state title game a week later.

California (12-1, ranked fifth) hopes to spoil Maryville’s (13-0, ranked first) bid for a repeat.

The Pintos can thank some last-second heroics from sophomore kicker Aaron Cuevas for reaching this point. Cuevas booted a 26-yard field goal with 3.6 seconds remaining to send California past McCluer South-Berkeley 26-24 in a state quarterfinal game last Saturday in St. Louis.

“Aaron’s a great kicker and he had the wind at his back,” California head coach Marty Albertson said of the game-winning kick. “… I was confident he he would come through for us.”

Added Cuevas: “The whole team was on my mind. I was very neervous. Then I was relieved and happy when it was over.”

So the Pintos get a second chance against a Maryville team that looks just as strong as last season’s championship squad.

“We’ll have to play the best game we’ve ever played,” California defensive coordinator Geary Labuary said. “Maryville is one heck of a group of athletes. We’ll have to take some chances. You’ve got to play flawless to beat a team like Maryville.”

Maryville is coming off a 42-20 victory against Oak Grove in its quarterfinal.

Brody McMahon did the heavy lifting, rushing 17 times for 136 yards and a score. Quarterback Trent Nally nabbed three rushing touchdowns while carrying the ball 11 times for 45 yards. While he wasn’t called upon to throw the ball much, Nally completed 5-of-6 passes for 137 yards and touchdown passes to McMahon and Payden Dawson.

Chris Dougan led the defense with 13.5 tackles, while Nally and Elijah Green tallied 9.5.

Maryville also owns playoff victories against Cameron (42-14), St. Pius X: Kansas City (34-14) and Kansas City East (85-14).

Califoria’s other three postseason wins are against Macon (39-0), Fulton (49-0) and Missouri Military Academy (69-0).

A win would put California back in the Show-Me Bowl for the first time since the Pintos made three consecutive appearances from 1997-99. California won the state title in 1997.

“We have the advantage of playing at home,” Albertson said. “We’re going to play our hardest and give them all we’ve got. Hopefully that will be enough.”

April Arnett of the California Democrat contributed to this preview.

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