On the defensive

PrepsKC staff

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: November 18, 2016 - 1:33 PM

Staley is one win away from going to its second Class 5 state championship. The traditional power from north of the river is a regular participant late in the playoffs but if the Falcons win tonight at Vianney it will be the first appearance in a title game since winning it all in 2011.

While that might seem like a long time to Staley fans, Vianney is on a much longer dry spell. The Golden Griffins haven’t been this deep in the playoffs since the first year Missouri had a state playoff system way back in 1968.

That is a long time and surprising considering Trent Green played there in the 1980s and there were several other very good players in the 1970s.

Vianney has earned its way there with a good run through the postseason. The Golden Griffins are 7-5 but they just knocked off Class 5 No. 1 Chaminade avenging and early season loss. Vianney has been led by an offense that has put plenty of points on the board averaging 56 points in their three postseason wins.

Staley coach Phil Lite is looking for another strong performance out of a starting defense that hasn’t allowed a point in 10 straight quarters.

“We feel like we are peaking at the right time of the year,” Lite said. “Our kids are playing extremely confident. We are sitting right now with a defense that has really come on strong. We’ve had some growing pains but they are pitching 10 straight quarters of shut out football. This time of year if you are able to run the field and play great defense you’ve always got a shot.”

While the Falcons defense will be tested, the Vianney defense might be the unit most under pressure. Staley’s offense led by 2,000-yard rusher Julian Ross looks unstoppable. Last week the Falcons jumped on a very good Park Hill South defense with 42 first-half points. Ross had four touchdowns in that first half and finished with 181 yards on just 10 carries.

If the offense can continue to dominate it should make it easy on the defense. Lite said his team’s different units have really fed off each other as the season has gone on.

“We stress to our kids that defense wins championships,” Lite said. “If we can play shut out football we’ve always got a chance to win. Offensively our kids have been able to control the line of scrimmage and create some holes for Julian Ross who’s done an outstanding job of running the football. We talk week in, week out about that yard and a half up front there that line of scrimmage. We’ve just done a great job controlling that the last six weeks.”

If Staley is able to win they will take on the winner of Battle and Fort Zumwalt North next Saturday in Springfield.