The Helias Crusaders wanted to take care of business early.
They did just that Wednesday night against the Kirksville Tigers. Early and often.
"We wanted to have a fast start," Helias coach Phil Pitts said after the Crusaders downed the Tigers 77-0 in the Class 4 District 6 semifinals at Adkins Stadium. "I think when you get off to a fast start, doubt can creep into the minds of your opponent. Kirksville had been playing well and we wanted to plant some of that doubt early."
With the win, Helias (9-2, ranked No. 3 in Class 4) will host Hannibal (8-3) in the district title game at 7 p.m. Monday. Hannibal upended previously undefeated Moberly 35-0 in its semifinal Wednesday night after falling 56-36 to the Spartans in the regular season.
Helias defeated Hannibal 35-10 on the road Oct. 25.
"Hannibal is our rival, it's a team we know we have to beat every year to accomplish our goals," Pitts said. "There's been a lot of talk about how hard it is to beat somebody twice, Hannibal proved that against Moberly."
It wasn't the best of starts for the Tigers, who lost fumbles on two of their first three offensive plays.
The first came on the first play from scrimmage as Shane Colonius knocked the ball away from Kirksville quarterback Makenna Cook and it was recovered by Nick Haslag at the Tiger 37.
Six plays later, Garrett Buschjost took it over from 4 yards out and J.C. Szumigala booted the PAT to make it 7-0.
That was the start of a record-setting night for Szumigala and a record-tying night for Buschjost.
Szumigala converted on all 11 of his extra-point attempts in the game to break the record of 10 set by John Daly in 1983.
"Starting back in camp, J.C. was working very hard at his kicking," Pitts said. "For him to knock 11 through in one game speaks to his consistency, the consistency of (snapper) Jon Wildbaber and (holder) Garrett Buschjost and the entire line."
Buschjost later ran for touchdowns from 1, 2, 3 and 1 yards out to total five in the game. That ties the single-game touchdown mark held by three players - Craig Lammers (1984), Mike Hentges (1990) and Chris Amick (1992).
"Garrett knows how to find the end zone behind our very good offensive line," Pitts said. "He reads well and cuts well."
All of Buschjost's touchdowns came in the first half, which ended with Helias holding a 63-0 lead.
Helias quarterback Wyatt Porter threw for four second-quarter scores, three going to Hale Hentges.
"We thought we'd find some slots in our passing and we executed," Pitts said. "When kids go out and execute, you figure you're going to be fine."
Porter and Hentges hooked up for scores from 15, 21 and 6 yards. Hentges finished with 60 receptions for 90 yards.
"He's a big-time football player and the way they were lining up defensively, they were playing him 1-on-1," Pitts said. "He's going to win those matchups a lot of times.
"He's a playmaker that we probably need to get the ball to more than we do."
Porter's other score came on a 55-yard strike to Trent Dudenhoeffer.
"It was good for Trent to get a touchdown," Pitts said.
A block by Buschjost helped spring Dudenhoeffer for the score.
"We've jumped on Garrett a little bit for his blocking, but he jumped out there in front of Trent and did a great job of helping to clear the way," Pitts said.
The big thing in the second half for the Crusaders was to maintain the shutout.
"Last week, Marshall beat us 14-13 in he second half and we didn't want that to happen again," Pitts said. "It was big defensively because we wanted the shutout, the coaches and the players."
Helias got second-half scores on a 23-yard run by Clayton Winter and a 20-yard gallop by Alex Faddoul.
The 77 points tied the Helias single-game mark set earlier this season against Vashon.
"Our defense was giving us short fields and we got six turnovers," Pitts said. "When you get that many more possessions, you need to take advantage of those."
Monday night will be the fifth meeting in the past three seasons between Helias and Hannibal.
"We have our work cut out for us," Pitts said. "They are going to come out with something to prove after that last game."