Helias falls short in Class 4 state championship

Finishes in second place against Webb City

Helias quarterback Wyatt Porter, right, is sacked for a loss by Webb City defensive end Brain Arterburn during the first half of the Missouri Class 4 state high school football championship Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in St. Louis.

Helias quarterback Wyatt Porter, right, is sacked for a loss by Webb City defensive end Brain Arterburn during the first half of the Missouri Class 4 state high school football championship Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in St. Louis. Photo by The Associated Press.

This coverage has been updated. See Helias falls to Webb City 28-14 in Class 4 title game for additional game details and public forum.

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Update, posted at 3:53 p.m.: Webb City downs Helias 28-14 for the Class 4 state championship.

Read the game tweets on Twitter from News Tribune reporters @tjrackers and @tony_hawley. And read their followup game articles online and in Saturday's newspaper.

Trey Parra rushed for 150 yards and three scores, leading lead Webb City to a 28-14 win Friday over Helias in the Missouri Class 4 state championship game.

Webb City (14-1) won its fourth consecutive title and a state-record 12th overall. Valle Catholic of Ste. Genevieve has won 11 titles and will play for the Class 1 championship Saturday.

Parra scored on runs of 1, 8 and 45 yards, and Kiante Hardin scored on a 16-yard, second-quarter run that put Webb City ahead to stay 14-7.

Webb City has won 59 of its last 60 games, having had a 46-game winning streak snapped in a 42-35 loss Sept. 6 to Har-Ber High of Springdale, Ark.

Garrett Buschjost rushed for 131 yards for Helias (12-3).

--Associated Press

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Game preview, posted at 4:02 a.m.:

They feel like they’re ready to put up a better fight in the sequel.

photo

Helias players go through a workout Wednesday at the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex in Columbia.

In last year’s Class 4 state football championship game, the Helias Crusaders fell behind early on their way to a 49-14 loss to the Webb City Cardinals. In today’s 1 p.m. rematch at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, the Crusaders (12-2, ranked No. 3) believe they can hold their own a little better this time against the three-time defending state champion Cardinals (13-1, ranked No. 1).

Missouri Class 4 football championship

Helias High School and Webb City clash at 1 p.m. Friday.

Televised on Fox Sports Midwest-PLUS

Here are the channels (information by Fox Sports Midwest):

• Mediacom 126.

• CenturyLink 749

• Dish 456 (it is listed as a pay-per-view channel, but will not be for the game).

• DirecTV 680-1 (HD-only).

(The regular Fox Sports Midwest channel will be televising the St. Louis Blues game at San Jose beginning at 3 p.m.)

Audio play-by-play

• KWOS Radio AM 950/FM 100.9

KWOS.com

Prepcasts.com

Updates on Twitter by News Tribune reporters

@tjrackers

@tony_hawley

Playoff hashtag generally in use is #MoPreps

“They’ve been on top of the pedestal for a long time in Class 4, definitely the last three years,” Helias coach Phil Pitts said. “It’s the team you have to beat to be considered the best.

“It’s going to be a heck of a challenge, but one our program and our players are excited for.”

Pitts is effusive in his praise describing the Webb City football program.

“High class, character, respect,” he said. “It hurts when you lose, but when you lose to someone like Webb City that does it the right way, it doesn’t hurt quite as much.”

When you think of the Webb City offense, you think run. And run. And run.

“They’re going run the option, they’re going to run the veer, they’re going to run split-backs,” Pitts said. “That’s what they know, that’s what they’ve done since second grade, it’s what they do well.”

The Cardinals have run for 4,692 yards (7.8 avg. per carry) this season, with Trey Parra and Kyle Baldasarre both eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark. Parra (has run 158 times for 1,454 yards (9.2) and 26 touchdowns, while Baldasarre has 119 carries for 1,009 yards (8.5) and 11 scores.

But three other Cardinals — Devin Pickett (553), Logan Cloyd (283) and Tyson Roderique (250) — have picked up big yardage as well.

“They have a lot of backs who fit into the system,” Pitts said. “It speaks to their program that they can find a lot of guys like that.”

The Cardinals feature a huge offense front. James Fowler (6-0, 220, sr.) is the smallest of the starting five at center. He is flanked by guards Trystan Castillo (6-3, 270, soph.) and Tony Carranco (6-0, 275, sr.), and tackles Dalton Ford (6-4, 275, jr.) and Jordan Green (6-2, 270, sr.).

“They’re physical, they’re going to try to push you off the line of scrimmage,” Pitts said. “There’s no secret that’s what they want to do. We think we’ve been able to establish the line of scrimmage with our defensive front. There’s no doubt this will be the biggest challenge of the season.”

Pickett (6-0, 160, jr.) is the Cardinals’ quarterback.

“He can read the option, you know he’s going to do a great job with it,” Pitts said.

In addition to his 553 rushing yards, Pickett is 40-of-55 through the air for 680 yards and 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions.

“He doesn’t have to thread it in there because their run offense has defenses keying on that part of the game,” Pitts said. “They can get a lot big plays out of the pass game.”

Kiante Hardin (5-11, 160, jr.) tops the Cardinals with 24 catches for 458 yards and 10 scores.

There’s no golden system to stopping the Cardinals. If there was, somebody would have figured it out by now.

“You’re not going throw them off with an adjustment, you might catch them for a series, but that’s about it,” Pitts said. “There’s not a perfect scheme or an unbelievable play call that we can make. It’s a matter of taking on blocks, beating blocks and tackling ballcarriers.

“They are trying to get you to make a mistake. So as a defense, you have to remember to try and stay sound, but that’s something we’ve preached all season. If our guys do that and are successful, then we will be successful.”

The Crusaders have done a very good job at slowing down the run game of opponents this season, giving up just 3.8 yards per carry.

“Going back to the summer, our defensive staff thought there were teams we’d have to beat for us to have successful seasons and among those teams were Harrisonville, Hannibal and Webb City,” Pitts said. “One thing they have in common is they all love to run the football, so we started thinking about this stuff a long time ago. We made sure we were ready, we had a scheme ready for it and so far at least, we’ve done a good job against the run.”

Defensively, the Cardinals operate out of a variety of 3- and 4-man fronts.

“They’re not very big, but they’re fast and they’re quick,” Pitts said. “They do a good job of playing team defense.”

The Cardinals, who have 68 tackles for loss this season, are led in stops by defensive end Alex Lane (6-2, 185, sr.) with 52. He also tops the team in sacks with three and tackles for loss with six.

Lane is followed in total tackles by linebackers Carson Johnson (5-11, 170, sr.) with 51 and Steven Moore (5-10, 180, jr.) with 50. Parra and Hardin each have three of Webb City’s 14 interceptions.

“You’re not going to fool them on defense,” Pitts said. “Our offense is in for a big challenge.”

The Crusaders have featured a balanced offensive attack this season, with their nearly 6,000 yards split almost evenly between the run and the pass.

“You don’t see that very often in high-school football,” Pitts said. “We can play smash-mouth football, we can throw it when we have to throw it, it says a lot about all of our offensive players. We can move the football a lot of different ways, we don’t rely on just one thing to be successful.”

Helias’ run back to the Dome began as the Crusaders were walking off the field last year in St. Louis.

“We played a lot of young players that are back,” Pitts said. “You can say this about Webb City as well, a lot of people expected this matchup again and to accomplish it is a great feat. But it’s not our goal to get back to this game, we want to go out and finish this off. We’ve worked for this for a very long time, it’s time to put a banner up on the wall.”

Audio

Helias Week 15 Podcast (Soundcloud)

Each week News Tribune sports editor and Helias football beat writer Tom Rackers and host Adam Stillman will break down everything to do with Crusader football. This week they break down Helias' semifinal win against Liberty North and look ahead to a Class 4 state championship against three-time defending champion Webb City.

Notes: Helias backup quarterback Alex Faddoul sprained his ankle in last Saturday’s 26-14 semifinal victory against Liberty North at Adkins Stadium. Pitts said Faddoul’s playing status will be a game-time decision. Garrett Buschjost, Helias’ starting running back, would be the No. 2 quarterback if Faddoul can’t play. Buschjost, who was the starting junior varsity quarterback last year before shifting to running back late in the varsity season, has been taking snaps at quarterback “for several weeks,” Pitts said. … Helias is 0-5 all-time against Webb City, all in postseason games. … Webb City has won 11 state football championships in its history. … The Crusaders are looking for their first state football title since 1998. They are 0-4 in championship games since defeating Ozark for that title. … Senior linebacker Michael Tannehill recorded a team-high 17 tackles against Liberty North, one of five Crusaders with double-digit stops in the game. The others were senior linebackers Shane Colonious (16) and Jon Wildhaber (13), senior safety J.C. Szumigala (12) and junior safety Todd Buschjost (10). ... To prepare for the artificial turf and indoor atmosphere of the Dome, Helias practiced Wednesday at the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex.

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Listen to podcast here if the audio player fails to load automatically.

Alternatively, some devices may be able to play or download the podcast here.

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Follow the News Tribune's @tjrackers and @tony_hawley on Twitter for updates from St. Louis during Saturday's Helias game. The 1 p.m. game will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest-Plus (find channels here), with an audio play-by-play available on KWOS AM 950/FM 100.9 and KWOS.com or on Prepcasts.com.

This coverage has been updated. See Helias falls to Webb City 28-14 in Class 4 title game for additional game details and public forum.