Staley finishes with undefeated state title
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
ST. LOUIS – They did it.
In just four short years, Fred Bouchard and his Staley Falcons climbed the peak of Missouri Class 5 football, have planted their flag and now stand tall as state champions for the first time ever, defeating the Kirkwood Pioneers 35-21 Saturday night at the Edward Jones Dome.
As a head coach, this may be old hat for Bouchard having done this four times before at Harrisonville, but don’t think for a second that this one is any less special.
“This has been pretty unbelievable,” Bouchard said of winning his first state title with a team he built from the ground up. “We wanted to do it two, then we wanted to do it in three. We’re glad we kept banging on that door, and this year and getting it done.
“This year’s seniors were part of the originals. They were freshman the first year we opened, and we didn’t have any seniors, so we dressed them for all the varsity games knowing that they were going to continue on down that path. I want to mention the great players we had in our past because these guys have climbed on their shoulders.”
Things started quickly for the 14-0 Falcons, scoring on their first drive in just three plays first set up by senior running back Morgan Steward’s 53-yard run, then junior quarterback Trent Hosick’s 20 yarder. Hosick capped it with a two-yard scoring run, and just 29 seconds into the game, Staley led 7-0.
Steward, who will be doing more of the same just west of here down I-70 in Columbia for the Missouri Tigers, went out in style, racking up 205 yards and a touchdown. The Pioneers, 12-1, did their best to contain Hosick, but he was still able to churn up 80 yards and four touchdowns.
There was no letdown after the 76-70 quadruple overtime thriller in the semifinals last week against Lee’s Summit West or the close call against Fort Osage in the quarterfinals. Bouchard was able to keep his team focused and ready for the task at hand.
“We have great coaches and great leaders, and that’s the key part to not stop and keep going,” Steward said. “We have so much heart with this team, so much commitment. We’ve talked so much about how we’ve earned this. Each time we went out there, we were going to put it all out there, and that’s what we’ve done each week.”
Senior defensive end Nathaniel Lohn added to Steward’s comments knowing that it was important for his team to complete its mission.
“We’ve gone up against some very formidable opponents and had some very close wins in the past two weeks, and those were very special memories, but if we don’t win state, it will leave a bad taste in our mouth,” Lohn said. “We wanted to finish, and I’m glad we did.”
Kirkwood began the game without its regular quarterback B.J. Buckner who violated team rules, but backup starter Jordon Bishop led the Pioneers to a score on their first drive hitting his brother Jarrod for a two-yard strike. Buckner entered the contest on the second series, but could never really get in sync with his offense.
Kirkwood had another scoring opportunity late in the first quarter, but running back Ramon Alton coughed up the ball near the goal line, and senior defensive end Nathan Lohn recovered it.
The Pioneers were able to add two more scores in the third quarter to keep the game close at 28-21, but where the game really turned was with 9:22 remaining in the game, Staley took over on its own 22-yard line after a punt.
From that point, the Falcons went on a 17-play, 78-yard and six minute, 57 second scoring drive to first go up by two scores, and second leave little time on the clock for Kirkwood to answer.
“Our word of the week was to finish,” said Bouchard. “We always pick a word of the week that describes how we want our team to play. This week, we said let’s finish. I thought that last drive on offense, and then our defense goes out and gets a four and out. I believe we met that challenge of finishing strong, and I’m proud of our guys for meeting that, and I knew if we finished strong, we’d have a good chance in this game.”
Once Hosick went in for the score, there was little doubt at that moment that Staley was about to make school history.
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