Helias blasts Smith-Cotton


Helias wide receiver Michael Tannehill hauls in a deep pass at the goal line for a first-quarter touchdown after getting behind the Sedalia Smith-Cotton secondary during Saturday’s game at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City.

Helias wide receiver Michael Tannehill hauls in a deep pass at the goal line for a first-quarter touchdown after getting behind the Sedalia Smith-Cotton secondary during Saturday’s game at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City. Photo by Kris Wilson.

The Helias Crusaders had a little more than a week to think about it. Saturday night, they did something about it.

Frustrated after a 1-point loss to Harrisonville to open the season, Helias took out some of those feelings in dumping the Sedalia Smith-Cotton Tigers 56-15 at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City.

“Our kids were hurting,” Helias football coach Phil Pitts said. “We didn’t say much about it, but you could see during practice that they were taking that loss personal.

“They wanted to answer the call, to show that we have the ability to get there and we took a step in that direction tonight.”

All but the final score was decided in the first six minutes. On Helias’ first nine plays from scrimmage, the Crusaders totaled 174 yards and three touchdowns.

“Our kids came out and executed,” Pitts said.

On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Wyatt Porter hit tight end Hale Hentges on a swing pass and the junior rumbled 62 yards for a touchdown. J.C. Szumigala booted the first of his six extra points and Helias led 7-0 just 20 seconds into the contest.

“Anytime we can get the ball in Hale’s hands in space, we want to do that,” Pitts said. “He’s a big, strong runner and it was nice to see that one go.”

After a Smith-Cotton three-and-out, Helias went 64 yards in five plays. The touchdown came on a 9-yard run by Garrett Buschjost, who then threw a 2-point conversion pass to Hentges to make it 15-0.

“They were bringing 11 guys and we have to try and slow down that rush,” Pitts said. “And it gives people something to think about the rest of the season.”

Blake Wilbers recovered a Tiger fumble at midfield to set up the third score, which came on a 19-yard pass from Porter to Michael Tannehill.

The Tigers showed a little life on their next drive when quarterback Chance McMullin got around the end and went 63 yards for a score to make it 22-7.

“He just outran us to the side and he was gone,” Pitts said. “He’s a talented player.”

Szumigala booted field goals from 25 and 42 yards to cap Helias’ next two possessions. The 42-yard kick was just short of the Helias record.

“J.C.’s really working hard at it,” Pitts said. “He’s a perfectionist and he wants to be great at what he does. He’s working to get better, hitting them from that far in practice and in pregame.”

A 4-yard run by Buschjost in the final minute of the first half gave the Crusaders a 35-7 lead at the half.

A 10-yard pass from Porter to Brock Gerstner made it 42-7 midway through the third quarter.

The Tigers scored on their ensuing possession. A 72-yard run by Jacob Weeks set up a 2-yard plunge by Dakota Brown and after a 2-point run by Weeks, it was 42-15. That halted the running clock, which comes at a margin of 35 points or more. Pitts was fine with that.

“We got to work on things that we wanted to do,” he said. “It was good for us, we got to extend the guys a little bit.”

Throw out the long runs by McMullin and Weeks and the Crusaders limited the Tigers to just 61 yards on 38 carries.

“We did a good job of bottling them up with a couple of exceptions,” Pitts said. “We were making tackles and being in the right space.”

Helias added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first came on a 26-yard run by Gerstner. Midway through the quarter, backup quarterback Alex Faddoul rambled 87 yards on his first snap of the season.

Helias, which finished with 532 yards of total offense, had a couple of goals heading into the game.

“We wanted to establish the running game and we wanted to control the tempo on offense, so we didn’t look to the sideline for a play the entire game,” Pitts said.

“We wanted to be aggressive.”

The Crusaders, behind a strong effort from the offensive line, had 322 rushing yards on 35 carries. Buschjost led the way with 106 yards. Porter completed 13-of-22 passes for 210 yards.

Helias (1-1, ranked No. 3 in Class 4) will take a big boost in confidence into Friday’s game at Quincy (Ill.) Notre Dame (2-0). Game time is 7 p.m.

“It’s gigantic,” Pitts said. “Winning is so hard to do, you can never underestimate what a win can do for a football team. To get that win, that confidence heading into the rest of the season is great for us.”

Smith-Cotton is now 0-2.

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