After opening with a pair of disappointing offensive series Friday night, the Helias Crusaders looked to be back on track.
They scored the next two times they had the ball to take a 14-0 lead against the Granite City Warriors at Ray Hentges Stadium. But Helias coach Chris Hentges wanted to make sure the the Crusaders were out of their slumber and didn't hit the snooze button after the second touchdown.
"It was there," Hentges said. "They had an offensive linemen in the middle and their guys next to him were pretty wide.
"We had practiced it during the week, we got it and I think that helped jump start us."
Matthew Malmstrom recovered the kick from Vinnie Calvaruso near midfield. The Crusaders then went 51 yards in six plays, capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Korbin Fisher, to make it 21-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter.
It was Helias' third touchdown in less than five minutes of game time. That helped erase some of the sting from the first two drives that netted a total of 35 yards and had the only punt of the game for the Crusaders.
"We had a lot of mistakes in those first two drives and you can't do that against good teams, that will come back to haunt you," Hentges said.
On the third drive, Helias took advantage of a short Granite City punt to start on the Warrior 42. Four plays later, Carson Brauner scored on a 3-yard run and the first of seven PATs by Calvaruso gave the Crusaders a 7-0 lead with 3:26 left in the first quarter.
The Crusaders then went 64 yards in six plays to score on their next series. The score came on a 37-yard pass from Drew Miller to Harrison Miller to make it 14-0.
"We're still growing and maturing offensively," Hentges said.
Fisher's scored a little more than a minute later and it was 21-0.
Helias added a touchdown late in the first half. A fourth-down sack by Beau Bondurant gave the Crusaders the ball at their own 47. On first down, Drew Miller tossed a screen pass to Ryan Klahr, who eluded a handful of tacklers down the right sideline for a 53-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead for Helias heading into intermission.
"A 5-yard route turns into a 50-plus yard touchdown because he's got that wiggle," Hentges said.
Hentges thinks the Crusaders may have underestimated the Warriors early in the game.
"As coaches, we never lie to the kids," he said. "We told then this was a game we should win and win big if we come out and execute. We want them to be mature and handle their business and they didn't.
"The seniors had a rather direct meeting with the rest of the team at halftime and told them this was not acceptable."
Granite City got the ball first in the second half, but fumbled it to Helias on the second play. Nicholas Heislen recovered the ball at the Warrior 22.
Four plays later, Klahr took it in from 4 yards and it was 35-0 to bring the running clock into play just :43 into the second half.
Tyler Sandbothe came on in place of Drew Miller at quarterback in the next Helias offensive series with the Crusader starters. Sandbothe led the Crusaders to a touchdown, throwing a 7-yard pass to Cole Stumpe for the score.
Helias scored its final touchdown with 2:11 remaining in the game on a 3-yard run by third-string quarterback Sam Wyrick.
Granite City quarterback Kayshawn White had the attention of the Helias defense coming into the game. Not necessarily for his ability to throw the ball, but run with it.
He had a handful of special runs Friday night where he ran around several Crusaders, some more than once on the same play. But with the Crusaders concentrating on containment, White's longest run of the night was 12 yards.
"You saw glimpses of how special (White) is, but I think we bottled him up," Hentges said. "We wanted to know where he was at all times.".
White finished with 48 yards on 21 carries.
Granite City (0-4), hurt by four fumbles, finished with 64 yards rushing on 40 carries. The Warriors were 3-of-12 passing for four yards.
It was the first shutout of the season for the Helias defense.
Class 5 No. 10 Helias (3-1) will resume Central Missouri Activities Conference play Friday in Columbia against Rock Bridge (3-1). The Bruins are 3-0 in the conference this season, the Crusaders are 2-0.
"It's the biggest game of the season because it's the next game of the season," Hentges said.
Game time is 7 p.m.