KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Friday night was Senior Night at St. Pius X. As the Warrior seniors walked onto the field prior to game, the P.A. announcer read what each player had listed as his greatest memory in a Warrior uniform.
Three hours later, all of those answers would be different as the Warriors picked up the biggest win the program has had in years. St. Pius X was able to to move to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the MEC with a 26-14 win over its greatest foil in the last decade.
Maryville began playing St. Pius X consistently in 2010 and since then, they had played 15 times with Maryville winning all 15 of the matchups and no game being closer than 20 points. Five of those seasons ended for St. Pius X at the hands of the Spoofhounds in the playoffs.
The Warriors set out to change that and make a statement to the rest of the Midland Empire Conference that they were not undefeated by a fluke. They did so behind some of the best playmakers in the conference.
“That team really came out and was motivated,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said. “They had some really good game plans against us and they earned this victory against us tonight. We didn't do the things that are necessary and that it takes to win a football game.
“That was the message: They earned it, and we didn't.”
The ringleader of those playmakers is 6-foot-4 wide receiver David Deters, who finished with over 150 yards receiving and all three Warrior touchdowns, but saved his most spectacular catch of the night for the final one.
“He is a really good football player and we knew it coming in,” Webb said. “... We had a game plan for it and obviously that game plan didn't work because he had a heck of a night.”
With St. Pius X clinging to a 20-14 lead and just under four minutes to play, the Warriors faced a third-and-12. The entire stadium could have predicted that the ball was going to Deters. The Spoofhounds were ready with three senior defensive backs — Connor Weiss, Caleb Kreizinger and Brady Farnan — covering Deters as he came cutting across the field towards the Maryville sideline.
It didn't matter though as the 6-foot-4 target used his height advantage on Weiss to pluck the ball off of Weiss' extended fingertips. After reeling in the pass, Deters tight-roped the sideline and walked into the end zone for his third touchdown of the night and the final nail in the Spoofhound loss.
“Everyone looks at the defensive backs and you make the play on the ball, but if we got a better pass rush, that would help a lot of that,” Webb said. “Defense is a full-11 game. … We have to get better at all positions.”
The game began the way most have the season for the Spoofhounds — with a slow start.
After a blocked punt, the Warriors took over on the Maryville 34, but faced a fourth-and-10. A 12-yard pass to Deters earned the first down, and after a loss on first down, a second-and-12 pass to him earned a 24-yard touchdown.
“I need to find a way to say it differently,” Webb said. “That is the message: we don't want to start slow and give up touchdowns. So I don't know, maybe find a different way to say it so maybe they can listen and we can come out and play better on defense.”
Maryville answered with senior captains Trey Houchin and Weiss powering a drive which ended in a 6-yard Weiss touchdown run.
St. Pius X went back in front on a 37-yard Joseph Wilson field goal to begin the second quarter.
Maryville came back with a long drive and had a first-and-goal at the Warrior two-yard line, but the program that has been built on its line play for so many years could not get push against the Warrior front. Three runs by Houchin and one by Weiss were stopped short and the Spoofhounds turned it over on downs at the one.
“Both sides of the ball with the offensive and defensive lines, we did not control the line of scrimmage,” Webb said. “St. Pius did and they really pushed us around.
“... They played tougher. They played more physical. They had a really good game plan on us, and we didn't respond or do the things that are necessary to win a football game.”
The Warriors got breathing room on a 31-yard pass to Deters and then running back Robbie Sharp got it over midfield with a 34-yard run. With 11 seconds left in the half, an 11-yard Deters touchdown catch put St. Pius X up 17-7.
Kreizinger ended the first Warrior drive of the second half with a fourth-down interception in the end zone. Weiss took the second play of the ensuing drive 75 yards, and two plays later, punched in a three-yard touchdown.
A fourth-down taunting call on Maryville senior Marc Gustafson set up a short field goal attempt for Wilson on the next drive and the Warriors went up 20-14 with a minute left in the third quarter.
On three drives for the Spoofhounds in the fourth quarter, Maryville failed to record a first down. Maryville's last gasp came with six minutes left, down six.
Quarterback Connor Drake found Kriezinger for five yards to begin the drive and Caden Stoecklein for one yard on second down, but two overthrows on open receivers in the flat ended the drive.
“They brought a couple pressures that we didn't protect very well on,” Webb said. “Connor knows that he has to make some better throws, and those are things we can work on in practice with timing and stuff. Those are things we have to improve on and execute — execute a lot better than we did tonight.”
The turnover on downs set Deters up for his game-sealing touchdown.
The Spoofhounds will be back on the road next week when they travel to Cameron. The Dragons are 3-1 this season with their only loss being to St. Pius X and beat Chillicothe this week 48-21.
“If we want to win any more football games and Cameron is all we will talk about, we have to go do the things it takes to win a football game,” Webb said. “The first thing you have to do is not lose it. You can not go win a game until you don't lose it. When you turn the ball over, you have special teams blunders, you don't tackle well on defense and you don't have good technique … we didn't do anything in the process to win a football game, we did everything to lose it.”