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    He didn’t play football two seasons ago, but he’s now Kickapoo’s leading receiver.

    Kickapoo senior Robbie Merced is the Chiefs' top receiver, but his future lies in playing baseball for Missouri State University.

    Kickapoo senior Robbie Merced is the Chiefs’ top receiver, but his future lies in playing baseball for Missouri State University.

    Robbie Merced’s future lies in baseball. He is verbally committed to play for Missouri State. But Friday night, he will try to help Kickapoo’s offense move the ball against Rockhurst in the second round of the playoffs.

    Merced played football in middle school but gave up the game as a high school freshman to concentrate on baseball. He spent two years watching from the stands before returning to football as a junior.

    “I just missed being out here and playing football with all my friends,” Merced said.

    Merced is a right-handed hitting infielder with pop in his bat and speed on the base paths. Baseball is in the blood. Merced’s father, Puerto Rican-born Orlando Merced, played 13 seasons of Major League Baseball for seven different teams from 1990 to 2003. Orlando Merced resides in Puerto Rico, where he is a coach, while Robbie Merced lives in Springfield with his mother. Despite the distance, Robbie Merced said he speaks with his father often, usually about baseball.

    “We talk a lot and he’s always helping me with anything I need,” Merced said. “It’s cool to see what he has to say about the game. He knows so much that I can just learn off of him.”

    Merced’s summer was a busy one, with time split between baseball games and football workouts.

    “Right after spring ball ended, we went straight into summer baseball, and summer pride for football was intermixing with some of the last tournaments, so it was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it,” Merced said.

    Merced caught 18 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns as a junior. He broke out as a wide receiver this season to lead the Chiefs with 38 receptions, 658 yards and seven touchdowns. Kickapoo coach Kurt Thompson likes Merced’s work ethic and attitude toward football.

    “(Merced) is the kid that shows up and works hard every day—been a dream come true as far as coaching him,” Thompson said.

    Kickapoo faces traditional power, NFL player producer in Rockhurst

    Kickapoo’s top receivers from 2015, Mason Pack and Malachi Stout, both graduated and are now playing college football. Their graduations made room for Merced and wide receiver Corey Dye to break out.

    “We lost a couple of key players like Mason (Pack) and Malachi (Stout), but I think we really stepped up in the skill spots. Corey Dye has been awesome for us,” Merced said. “We’ve really been able to put together a team that can go score and do some great things.”

    Thompson notes that Dye and Merced both play selflessly at the wide receiver spots.

    “Corey has had a fabulous year. We knew last year he was a playmaker,” Thompson said. “He does what we know he can do. I mean, we see that every day in practice. What’s good about Corey is you have to kick him out of every drill. He wants to be on every scout team.”

    Senior quarterback Chris Lawson also took on a larger role. Lawson has completed 64 percent of his passes this season for 1,742 yards and 17 touchdowns.

    “(Lawson) is extremely good, he can put the football anywhere he wants and it’s awesome,” Merced said.

    Offense will be key for Kickapoo (9-1) when the Rockhurst Hawklets (7-2) come to Springfield Friday night for the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    “I think we’re going to have to move the football. They have a really good defense, a really good offense,” Merced said of Rockhurst.

    Thompson agrees with Merced’s assessment of Rockhurst.

    “Everybody I’ve talked to said how good of a defensive football team they are, and that shows on video,” Thompson said of Rockhurst. “They don’t have any weak spots, they force turnovers, and they make it hard for people to score.”

    A win would put Kickapoo in the Class 6 District 4 championship game, which doubles as a playoff quarterfinal. It would also extend Merced’s football career with his friends at least one more week, before he turns his mind to baseball for good.


    tdunhamusatodayKickapoo senior Robbie Merced is the Chiefs' top receiver, but his future lies in playing baseball for Missouri State University.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayKickapoo senior Robbie Merced is the Chiefs' top receiver, but his future lies in playing baseball for Missouri State University.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    High school football district playoff semifinals

    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    No matter how you frame it, playoff losses hurt.

    tdunhamusatodayKickapoo High School students cheer for the Chiefs during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016. The Rockhurst Hawklets won the game 26-3.Kickapoo High School students wait for the team’s entrance to the field prior to the start of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016. The Rockhurst Hawklets won the game 26-3.Rockhurst High School defensive end Carter Selzer (89) pulls the facemask of Chiefs runningback Devin Kruse (35) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016. The Rockhurst Hawklets won the game 26-3.Kickapoo High School quarterback Will Burdick (14) throws a pass to one of his wide receivers during warm ups prior to the start of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School running back Brady McCanles (38) barrels over Chiefs cornerback Peyton Moore (1) to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School tight end Jacob Sykes (87) stretches out over Chiefs defensive back Jabin Johnson (31) to score a touchdown during second quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School quarterback Chance May (11) stiff arms Chiefs linebacker Travis Vokolek (2) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School quarterback Chance May (11) stiff arms Chiefs wide receiver Cole McCarville (22) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School quarterback Chance May (11) stiff arms Chiefs linebacker Travis Vokolek (2) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School running back Brady McCanles (38) barrels over Chiefs cornerback Peyton Moore (1) to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School quarterback Chance May (11) stiff arms Chiefs wide receiver Cole McCarville (22) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School tight end Jacob Sykes (87) stretches out over Chiefs defensive back Jabin Johnson (31) to score a touchdown during second quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.tdunhamusatodayKickapoo High School students cheer for the Chiefs during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016. The Rockhurst Hawklets won the game 26-3.Kickapoo High School students wait for the team’s entrance to the field prior to the start of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016. The Rockhurst Hawklets won the game 26-3.Rockhurst High School defensive end Carter Selzer (89) pulls the facemask of Chiefs runningback Devin Kruse (35) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016. The Rockhurst Hawklets won the game 26-3.Kickapoo High School quarterback Will Burdick (14) throws a pass to one of his wide receivers during warm ups prior to the start of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School running back Brady McCanles (38) barrels over Chiefs cornerback Peyton Moore (1) to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School tight end Jacob Sykes (87) stretches out over Chiefs defensive back Jabin Johnson (31) to score a touchdown during second quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School quarterback Chance May (11) stiff arms Chiefs linebacker Travis Vokolek (2) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School quarterback Chance May (11) stiff arms Chiefs wide receiver Cole McCarville (22) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School quarterback Chance May (11) stiff arms Chiefs linebacker Travis Vokolek (2) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School running back Brady McCanles (38) barrels over Chiefs cornerback Peyton Moore (1) to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School quarterback Chance May (11) stiff arms Chiefs wide receiver Cole McCarville (22) during first quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.Rockhurst High School tight end Jacob Sykes (87) stretches out over Chiefs defensive back Jabin Johnson (31) to score a touchdown during second quarter action of the Class 6 playoff game between Rockhurst High School and Kickapoo High School played at Pottenger Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Oct. 28, 2016.

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    OZARK – The Ozark Tigers don’t have a superstar workhorse in their backfield. What they do have a multi-headed monster that will hit you from every direction. This was on full display Friday night in a 27-13 victory over Lebanon in the Class 5 District 4 semifinals.

    “We may not see those huge individual numbers, but we have a whole lot of guys contribute,” Ozark head coach Chad Depee said. “We had a couple of guys get dinged, but somebody has to step up and that is what they have bought into.”

    After a slow start that included three-and-outs on their first two possessions, second-seeded Ozark racked up 233 rushing yards with seven different players carrying the ball. Quarterback Jack Hulse led the charge with 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The senior also completed three of six passes for 82 yards.

    “We came out and looked a little rusty,” Depee said. “The kids put a lot of work in to try and grind somebody down.”

    While Ozark was using a number of different runners, No. 3 Lebanon relied heavily on John Berry. The junior entered the game averaging 7.4 yards per carry and 141 yards per game. Berry struck early with touchdown runs of 52 and 22 yards as the Yellowjackets built a 13-7 lead in the second quarter. But aside from those two long runs, the Ozark defense was able to corral Berry. He finished with 140 yards on 21 carries, and only averaged 3.5 yards per carry when you take out the two touchdown runs.

    “I thought we came out and played very well early,” Lebanon coach Will Christian said. “In the second half we let some field position and turnovers get us behind.”

    Lebanon took a 13-10 lead to the locker room at halftime, but the Tigers’ defense answered the call by only giving up 83 yards and keeping the Yellowjackets out of the end zone in the second half.

    While the defense was holding Lebanon at bay, the Ozark offense was putting points on the board. Ozark scored 20 unanswered points to pull away.

    “With as good as Ozark is defensively, the last place that you want to be with a quarter and a half to go is two possessions down,” Christian said.

    One year removed from a 1-9 record, the Tigers are 8-2 and headed to a showdown with top-seeded Glendale (10-0) for the district championship next week at Lowe Stadium at Glendale High School.

    “After last year with all the struggles, it is awesome to live to fight another day,” Hulse said.

    Ozark 27, Lebanon 13

    Lebanon              0              13           0              0              –              13

    Ozark    0              10           10           7              –              27

    Second Quarter

    Lebanon – John Berry 52 run (Lakiah Capps kick)

    Ozark – Jack Hulse 1 run (Chandler Doss kick)

    Lebanon – Berry 22 run (kick failed)

    Ozark – Doss 35 field goal

    Third Quarter

    Ozark – Doss 26 field goal

    Ozark – Ryan Taylor 18 run (Doss kick)

    Fourth Quarter

    Ozark – Hulse 1 run (Doss kick)

    Ozark's Jack Hulse sneeks in for a touchdown against visiting Lebanon on October 28, 2016.

    Ozark’s Jack Hulse sneeks in for a touchdown against visiting Lebanon on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Ozark's Conner Larkin gains a first down against visiting Lebanon on October 28, 2016.

    Ozark’s Conner Larkin gains a first down against visiting Lebanon on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Ozark quaterback Jack Hulse tries to fight off the Lebanon defense in Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Ozark quaterback Jack Hulse tries to fight off the Lebanon defense in Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon's John Berry gains more yardage during his teams visit to Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon’s John Berry gains more yardage during his teams visit to Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

    Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.


    tdunhamusatodayOzark's Jack Hulse sneeks in for a touchdown against visiting Lebanon on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Ozark's Conner Larkin gains a first down against visiting Lebanon on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Ozark quaterback Jack Hulse tries to fight off the Lebanon defense in Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon's John Berry gains more yardage during his teams visit to Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.tdunhamusatodayOzark's Jack Hulse sneeks in for a touchdown against visiting Lebanon on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Ozark's Conner Larkin gains a first down against visiting Lebanon on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.Ozark quaterback Jack Hulse tries to fight off the Lebanon defense in Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon's John Berry gains more yardage during his teams visit to Ozark on October 28, 2016.Lebanon visit Ozark on October 28, 2016.

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    Here are the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks high school sports Performers of the Week for Oct. 24-29:

    American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week

    American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week

    Tabitha Weber

    Marshfield cross country

    Weber appears poised to pick up the fourth top 10 finish of her career at the state cross country meet in Jefferson City. Weber took first place in the Class 3 District 6 race at Hollister on Saturday with a five-kilometer time of 18:44.22, which was fast enough to win by 36 seconds. Weber placed seventh at state as a junior, 10th as a sophomore and sixth as a freshman.

    Cameron Smith

    Ozark swimming

    Smith took first place in the 500-yard freestyle race at the 2016 SW MO Swim and Dive Championships with a time of 4:54.36 at Foster Natatorium in Springfield. Smith also placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle and swam on a relay team that finished in second place to Joplin in the 400-yard freestyle relay along with Zac Suman, Cole Smith and Sam Clifford. Ozark finished second in the team standings with 191 points behind Glendale’s 225.

    Dustin Shoemaker

    Humansville cross country

    Shoemaker owned the Class 1 District 5 championship meet and qualified for the state championships with a first place time of 16:50.27 at Hermitage. The senior will compete in his fourth and final state championship race Saturday in Jefferson City. Shoemaker will try to overcome a second place curse, having been the state runner-up for the past two seasons.

    Josh Scheiderer

    Kickapoo soccer/football

    Scheiderer had an active 48 hours for the Chiefs. On Thursday, he played solid defense in Kickapoo’s 2-1 win at Central resulting in a district championship and a berth in the Class 4 sectional soccer playoffs. He followed the soccer game with Kickapoo’s 26-3 football playoff loss to Rockhurst, in which the all-state kicker hit a 47-yard field goal for the Chiefs’ only points.

    Kickapoo senior wide receiver Robbie Merced

    Kickapoo senior wide receiver Robbie Merced

    Robbie Merced

    Kickapoo football

    Kickapoo’s loss on the gridiron ended the Chiefs’ season 9-2, but not for a lack of effort on Merced’s part. Merced caught 10 passes for an even 150 yards. His high school football career is over, but Merced will play baseball for Kickapoo this spring. He is verbally committed to play for coach Keith Guttin at Missouri State.

    Varsity sports coaches, would you like to nominate one of your players to be an American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performer of the Week? Email your nomination to News-Leader high school sports reporter Rance Burger (rburger@news-leader.com) by 5 p.m. each Monday.


    tdunhamusatodayAmerican Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the WeekKickapoo senior wide receiver Robbie MercedtdunhamusatodayAmerican Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the WeekKickapoo senior wide receiver Robbie Merced

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  • 11/02/16--16:00: Bears talk newfound offense
  • Missouri State quarterback Brodie Lambert and receivers Zac Hoover and Deion Holliman talk about the team’s high-powered offense.

    HSS_DefaulttdunhamusatodayHSS_Defaulttdunhamusatoday

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    Who is Alex Huston?

    tdunhamusatodayGlendale junior quarterback Alex Huston (7) reached 10,000 passing yards in 20 varsity games.Bears QB Cody Kirby (13) during his playing days at Missouri State.Glendale's Alex Huston throw a last second pass against visiting Kickapoo in Springfield on September 15, 2016.Glendale quarterback Alex Huston has more than 600 rushing yards in his career.Guillermo Hernandez Martinez/News-Leader Glendale High School wide receivers Max Nichols (13) and Luke Montgomery (22) celebrate after Montgomery caught a long touchdown pass by quarterback Alex Huston (not pictured) during first-quarter action between Glendale and Camdenton at Lowe Stadium in Springfield on Oct. 14, 2016.Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) gets ready to throw in the Falcons' game against West Plains on Sept. 2.tdunhamusatodayGlendale junior quarterback Alex Huston (7) reached 10,000 passing yards in 20 varsity games.Bears QB Cody Kirby (13) during his playing days at Missouri State.Glendale's Alex Huston throw a last second pass against visiting Kickapoo in Springfield on September 15, 2016.Glendale quarterback Alex Huston has more than 600 rushing yards in his career.Guillermo Hernandez Martinez/News-Leader Glendale High School wide receivers Max Nichols (13) and Luke Montgomery (22) celebrate after Montgomery caught a long touchdown pass by quarterback Alex Huston (not pictured) during first-quarter action between Glendale and Camdenton at Lowe Stadium in Springfield on Oct. 14, 2016.Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) gets ready to throw in the Falcons' game against West Plains on Sept. 2.

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    District championship football kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. with several appetizing games taking place in the Ozarks.

    Nixa running back Aiden Farthing tries to shake off a tackle by Ozark defensive back Reed Herrold during their regular season meeting. Both teams compete for district championships on Nov. 4, 2016

    Nixa running back Aiden Farthing tries to shake off a tackle by Ozark defensive back Reed Herrold during their regular season meeting. Both teams compete for district championships on Nov. 4, 2016

    It’s the stage of the playoff season where just about any game has potential to be incredible, but here are five games we are fired up to watch play out:


    Fair Grove at Lamar

    Two undefeated teams meet when  a steadily rising Fair Grove takes on the winners of the Class 2 state championship for two years running, Lamar. October has been a good month for Fair Grove, led by human highlight machine Dalton Cloyd at running back. The Eagles have outscored opponents 186-43 in four October games. Lamar presents a difficult challenge, scoring an average of 54.2 points per game while surrendering just 8.9 points per game.


    Mt. Vernon at Monett

    Monett hosts Mt. Vernon Friday at Burl Fowler Stadium, home to the most widely regarded hot dogs in the Big 8 Conference. Monett beat Mt. Vernon earlier in the season 42-28. Cubs running back Michael Branch comes off a three-touchdown performance against Cassville last week. Mt. Vernon has shown improvement in the running game with Sammy Robinson’s workload increasing, but Mountaineers quarterback Garrett Hadlock remains a steady passer. The stadium should be packed for what should be a close game.


    Ozark at Glendale

    Ozark’s defense against Glendale’s offense will tell the tale in the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors. Will Ozark linemen Solomon Douglas and Jayce Gorn be able to get to Glendale quarterback Alex Huston? Can Ozark’s defensive backs cover enough ground against Glendale’s five wide receivers? What will coach Chad Depee do differently to try to slow Glendale’s air show? We will find out Friday at Lowe Stadium.


    Nixa at Carthage

    Carthage coach John Guidie picked up his 100th coaching victory with the Tigers a week ago against Willard, the 147th victory of his career. Quarterback Keith Guest II rushed 34 times for 171 yards in the game. Carthage beat Nixa 25-7 earlier this season. Nixa enters the game with momentum coming off an emotional 38-31 double overtime win against Neosho. The Eagles defense will have to contain Guest in order for Nixa to have a shot to win on the road and advance.


    Mountain Grove at Mountain View-Liberty

    Mountain View-Liberty won the opening tilt between the No. 2 and the No. 4-ranked teams in Class 2 by a 33-20 score. The Panthers will try to slow Liberty quarterback Josh Pruett, who has passed for 2,375 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. Pruett’s top target is Brenton Bush, who has 78 receptions for 1,361 yards and 18 touchdowns. Eagles running back Marcos Rodriguez logged 1,034 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 games. Mountain Grove relies on its ground game. Running backs Trystan Short and Chance Barbe and quarterback Carter Otwell have all surpassed 1,100 yards rushing, with short leading the way with 1,451 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

    High school football district playoff championships

    Class 5

    Ozark (8-2) at Glendale (10-0)

    Nixa (6-4) at Carthage (9-1)

    Class 4

    Rolla (3-8) at Parkway West (7-4)

    Webb City (8-3) at Carl Junction (9-2)

    Class 3

    Mt. Vernon (7-4) at Monett (10-1)

    Class 2

    Mountain Grove (10-1) at Mountain View-Liberty (11-0)

    Fair Grove (11-0) at Lamar (10-0)

    Butler (9-2) at Summit Christian Academy (10-1)

    Class 1

    Thayer (6-5) at Ash Grove (8-3)

    Skyline (8-3) at Lincoln (11-0)

    Lockwood (9-2) at Cass-Midway (10-1)

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors


    tdunhamusatodayNixa running back Aiden Farthing tries to shake off a tackle by Ozark defensive back Reed Herrold during their regular season meeting. Both teams compete for district championships on Nov. 4, 2016News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayNixa running back Aiden Farthing tries to shake off a tackle by Ozark defensive back Reed Herrold during their regular season meeting. Both teams compete for district championships on Nov. 4, 2016News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    High school football district playoff championships

    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    Glendale’s football team outdid itself in throwing up monstrous numbers.

    The Falcons jumped out to a 49-9 lead in the first quarter of an 85-44 win over Ozark in the Class 5 District 4 championship game. Don’t adjust your glasses, those numbers are true. Glendale advances to the Class 5 playoff quarterfinals following Friday night’s win at Lowe Stadium.

    Falcons quarterback Alex Huston finishes the game unofficially 33-of-45 passing for 715 yards and 9 passing touchdowns. Huston rushed five times for 28 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

    Senior Jeremy Almeida caught seven passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Almeida showed a confidence after the game that makes it hard to believe Glendale (11-0) was 2-8 just two seasons ago.

    “We just had our foot on the pedal and knew what we were going out there to do, and did it,” Almeida said.

    Almeida cracked a smile as he watched Glendale students celebrate with the team after the game.

    “It feels amazing. I never thought I would be in this spot, but we are now,” Almeida said. “It’s an awesome feeling, it’s special, and I’ll cherish this moment.”

    The first quarter featured a sequence in which Glendale scored 28 points in the final 1:59. The Falcons recovered three consecutive onside kicks. Glendale coach Mike Mauk explained the play-calling.

    “We wanted to try to keep the ball away from them as much as we could. We knew that their offense was very good,” Mauk said. “We saw some things in film that we thought would maybe give us an advantage, and we were able to take advantage of that. The ball bounced our way a couple of times. It gave us momentum.”

    The gaudy offensive numbers didn’t end with Huston. Von Oeser had 11 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Max Nichols caught five passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Luke Montgomery had three catches for 84 yards and a touchdown; he also scored a rushing touchdown. Nader Leali added three receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown.

    It’s hard to believe this team was 5-6 last year.

    “I was proud of the hard work that they put in, the commitment they’ve given the program and to try to improve and get better each day, and keeping things in perspective,” Mauk said.

    Mauk pointed to a total team effort by the Falcons offense leading to big points.

    “I thought (Huston) did a great job. To be honest with you, I really thought our offensive line did a great job of protecting him. Ozark has some very fine defensive players and they played great defense all year long,” Mauk said. “Ozark is a very good football team. The score is not indicative of how good of a football team they are.”

    Ozark (8-3) coach Chad Depee pointed to Glendale’s early momentum as a key factor in the outcome of the district championship game.

    “Glendale is a tremendous team, they expose you in so many ways,” Depee said. “It is tough. It’s one of those things where with those type of athletes and what they do, and how well they do it, you’ve got to have things go your way. We had a lot of things that didn’t go Ozark’s way in the first half, and they can expose you that fast.”

    Reed Harrold was a bright spot for Ozark with 168 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

    Ozark underwent a turnaround of its own in Depee’s second season with the program. The Tigers were 1-9 last year.

    “We came from a season a year ago that was rough, and for these guys to believe that we could even come in and play for a district championship a year ago—that’s amazing,” Depee said.

    Huston’s 743 yards of total offense appears to break a state record held by former Ft. Zumwalt West quarterback T.J. Moe, who had 667 total yards of offense in a game against Jefferson City in 2008. Huston’s 561 passing yards in the first half appears to shatter a previous record of 433 yards. The 715 total yards in a single game is also state record.

    Huston already held the single game record for touchdown passes with nine.

    Glendale will play Ft. Zumwalt North (10-1), 50-19 winners over Ft. Zumwalt South in the Class 5 District 3 championship game, in the playoff quarterfinals. The Falcons will host the game either Friday or Saturday at a time to be determined by the two teams.

    Class 5 District 4 football championship

    Glendale 85, Ozark 44

    At Lowe Stadium, Glendale

    Ozark 9-14-0-21—44

    Glendale 49-22-0-14—85

    First quarter

    Glendale—Jeremy Almeida 52-yard pass from Alex Huston (Alex Locke kick)

    Glendale—Huston 4-yard run (Locke kick)

    Glendale—Huston 19-yard run (Locke kick)

    Ozark—Safety on snap out the back of the Glendale end zone

    Ozark—Bradley Bonewell 2-yard run (Chandler Doss kick)

    Glendale—Nader Leali 54-yard pass from Huston (Huston run)

    Glendale—Von Oeser 45-yard pass from Huston (Luke Montgomery pass from Huston)

    Glendale—Leali 14-yard pass from Huston (pass failed)

    Glendale—Montgomery 50-yard reception from Huston (pass failed)

    Second quarter

    Ozark—Reed Harrold 40-yard run (Doss kick)

    Glendale—Almeida 32-yard pass from Huston (Spencer Wester pass from Huston)

    Ozark—Bradley Bonewell 2-yard run (Doss kick)

    Glendale—Luke Montgomery 6-yard run (Locke kick)

    Glendale—Max Nichols 13-yard pass from Huston (Locke kick)

    Third quarter

    None

    Fourth quarter

    Ozark—Connor Larkin 33-yard pass from Jack Hulse (Doss kick)

    Ozark—Jack Hulse 4-yard run (Doss kick)

    Glendale—Oeser 49-yard pass from Huston (Locke kick)

    Ozark—Harrold 62-yard run (Doss kick)

    Glendale—Nichols 63-yard pass from Huston (Locke kick)

    Glendale High School wide receiver Jeremy Almeida (88) and quarterback Alex Huston (7) celebrate after Almeida scored a touchdown off a pass by Huston during second quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016

    Glendale High School wide receiver Jeremy Almeida (88) and quarterback Alex Huston (7) celebrate after Almeida scored a touchdown off a pass by Huston during second quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016

    Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) walks into the end zone to score on a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016

    Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) walks into the end zone to score on a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016

    Glendale High School wide receiver Nader Leali (23) catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Huston (not pictured) during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016

    Glendale High School wide receiver Nader Leali (23) catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Huston (not pictured) during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016

    Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) and wide receiver Nader Leali (23) celebrate after Leali scored a touchdown during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016

    Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) and wide receiver Nader Leali (23) celebrate after Leali scored a touchdown during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016


    tdunhamusatodayGlendale High School wide receiver Jeremy Almeida (88) and quarterback Alex Huston (7) celebrate after Almeida scored a touchdown off a pass by Huston during second quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) walks into the end zone to score on a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016Glendale High School wide receiver Nader Leali (23) catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Huston (not pictured) during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) and wide receiver Nader Leali (23) celebrate after Leali scored a touchdown during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016tdunhamusatodayGlendale High School wide receiver Jeremy Almeida (88) and quarterback Alex Huston (7) celebrate after Almeida scored a touchdown off a pass by Huston during second quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) walks into the end zone to score on a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016Glendale High School wide receiver Nader Leali (23) catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Huston (not pictured) during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) and wide receiver Nader Leali (23) celebrate after Leali scored a touchdown during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016

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    They waited years, but the senior football players from Mt. Vernon finally achieved the dream of beating a rival on their home turf.

    The Mountaineers defeated Aurora 42-28 Friday at Mountaineer Stadium in a rivalry known as the Poss Jackson Bell Bowl that dates back to 1919. Jackson, a resident of the Missouri Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon, attended the game and took part in a ceremonial coin toss.

    Wide receiver/defensive back Jarrett Massie led Mt. Vernon with eight receptions, which went for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He was all smiles after the game.

    “It honestly means everything. I know us senior boys—we’d never beat them before and our senior year, it feels amazing to beat them,” Massie said.

    Mt. Vernon last won the Bell Bowl rivalry in 2012, but coach Tom Cox explained that the desire to beat Aurora ran deeper than that for the Mountaineer seniors.

    “This is the first time that our seniors have ever beaten Aurora, all the way up. I’m talking Mighty Mites to junior high to high school, so it was an important game for a lot of different reasons,” Cox said.

    Mt. Vernon quarterback Garrett Hadlock went 17-of-27 passing for 283 yards and three touchdowns. His top yardage man was junior Andrew Montemayor, who caught four passes for 97 yards.

    Mt. Vernon’s passing game got some complimentary help from running back Sammy Robinson, who carried the ball 24 times for 163 yards and a touchdown.

    “Our offensive line is starting to come together. We’ve done a few things differently up front and with our running game that has helped, but it’s great to see Sammy have the confidence, and he wants the ball,” Cox said.

    Mt. Vernon improves to 5-2 in the third year of Cox’s second stint as the head coach. The improvement is welcome.

    “It’s always been rough for us and our senior year, breaking out is awesome,” Massie said.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) trots into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) trots into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon got six points from kicker Jayden Buttram, who bonked in a 42-yard field goal off the crossbar in the second quarter and followed that with a confident 44-yard field goal from the right hash mark to close the second half.

    “My heart skipped a beat. I was about to drop down and be dead. It was one of the longest ones I’ve hit in a game so far, so the second one just felt really good. I had everybody supporting me,” Buttram said.

    Buttram’s father, Jesse Buttram, is a member of the Mt. Vernon chain gang. He has not watched his son kick a field goal or an extra point for several weeks. When Jayden Buttram lines up a kick, his father turns his back to the field and lets the other chain gang members describe the outcome.

    “The first week at Reeds Spring I missed two and he was watching,” Jayden Buttram said of his father. “On every single kick he turns his back and just looks away. I haven’t missed one yet.”

    Aurora quarterback Payton Evans completed 22-of-39 pass attempts for 196 yards, which gives him 1,156 yards passing through seven games. The Houn’ Dawgs (1-5) also got a pair of rushing touchdowns from Wyatt Neff.

    “I think my team stepped up,” Aurora coach Kale Kilgo said. “They didn’t bow down. Except for a couple of mistakes here and there, I think we played good.”

    Though Aurora has struggled this season, it didn’t look like a team with only one win. The Houn’ Dawgs traded blows early with Mt. Vernon and outscored the Mountaineers in the fourth quarter.

    “I told them before the game, if they gave me their hearts and if they couldn’t walk themselves off the field, I’d carry them, and they did that. They gave me all their heart,” Kilgo said.

    On Oct. 7, Aurora is scheduled to host Cassville (5-2) at 7 p.m. Mt. Vernon is schedule to host Lamar (5-0), winners of five consecutive Class 2 state championships and the No. 1-ranked Class 2 team in Missouri.

    Mt. Vernon 42, Aurora 28

    At Mountaineer Stadium, Mt. Vernon

    Aurora 8-6-0-14—28

    Mt. Vernon 15-13-7-7—42

    First quarter

    Mt. Vernon—Sammy Robinson 11-yard run (Robinson run)

    Aurora—Keaton Willard 16-yard pass from Payton Evans (Kaleb Barker pass from Evans)

    Mt. Vernon—Andrew Montemayor 48-yard pass from Garrett Hadlock (Jayden Buttram kick)

    Second quarter

    Aurora—Wyatt Neff 6-yard run (kick failed)

    Mt. Vernon—Jarrett Massie 11-yard pass from Garrett Hadlock (Buttram kick)

    Mt. Vernon—Buttram 42-yard field goal

    Mt. Vernon—Buttram 44-yard field goal

    Third quarter

    Mt. Vernon—Hadlock 6-yard run (Buttram kick)

    Fourth quarter

    Aurora—Neff 15-yard run (Jeremy Scholbrock kick)

    Mt. Vernon—Massie 31-yard pass from Hadlock (Buttram kick)

    Aurora—Evans 7-yard run (Scholbrock kick)

    Mt. Vernon High School wide receiver Jarrett Massie (24) avoids a tackle by Houn' Dawg defensive back Logan Lauffer (5) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School wide receiver Jarrett Massie (24) avoids a tackle by Houn’ Dawg defensive back Logan Lauffer (5) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) catches a pass from quarterback Garrett Hadlock (not pictured) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016. Montemayor would score a touchdown on the play.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) catches a pass from quarterback Garrett Hadlock (not pictured) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016. Montemayor would score a touchdown on the play.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back SAmmy Robinson (6) stretches out to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back SAmmy Robinson (6) stretches out to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) leaps in celebration with offensive lineman James Lee (51) after Robinson scored a touchdown in first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) leaps in celebration with offensive lineman James Lee (51) after Robinson scored a touchdown in first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.


    tdunhamusatodayMt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) trots into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School wide receiver Jarrett Massie (24) avoids a tackle by Houn' Dawg defensive back Logan Lauffer (5) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) catches a pass from quarterback Garrett Hadlock (not pictured) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016. Montemayor would score a touchdown on the play.Mt. Vernon High School running back SAmmy Robinson (6) stretches out to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) leaps in celebration with offensive lineman James Lee (51) after Robinson scored a touchdown in first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.tdunhamusatodayMt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) trots into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School wide receiver Jarrett Massie (24) avoids a tackle by Houn' Dawg defensive back Logan Lauffer (5) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) catches a pass from quarterback Garrett Hadlock (not pictured) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016. Montemayor would score a touchdown on the play.Mt. Vernon High School running back SAmmy Robinson (6) stretches out to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) leaps in celebration with offensive lineman James Lee (51) after Robinson scored a touchdown in first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

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    The football rivalry between Ozark and Nixa dates back to 1988, but some residents of Christian County will tell you the rivalry extends far beyond high school sports.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Nixa (5-2) visits Ozark (5-2) Friday for the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors. Nixa enters the game coming off back-to-back losses, while Ozark comes off a 17-12 stunning of perennial Class 4 power Webb City.

    Ozark holds quality wins over Class 5 No. 8 Carthage and Class 4 No. 4 Carl Junction. Losses to Republic and Neosho dot the Tigers’ record.

    Nixa rattled off wins over Willard, Branson, Central, Republic and Neosho, but suffered back-to-back losses to Webb City and Carthage.

    If you compare common opponents, this matchup is a wash. Forget about the records when the “Christian County Super Bowl” rolls around.

    Coach Chad Depee began preaching defense when he arrived at Ozark from Monett a season ago, and it seems the Tigers have listened. Ozark forced four turnovers in the win at Webb City and a red zone stand in the fourth quarter that featured a sack from Brock Herrold and Solomon Douglas and pass breakup by Reed Herrold.

    Quarterback Andrew Rivera and the Nixa offense will look to get going after scoring just 17 points in the last two games. Prior to the losses to Webb City and Carthage, Nixa had been scoring an average of 32.6 points per game.

    News-Leader Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Nixa (5-2) at Ozark (5-2)

    Friday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

    Tiger Stadium

    1350 West Bluff Drive, Ozark

    Ozark junior fullback Nathaniel Burlage (33) and the Tigers host rival Nixa Friday, Oct. 7 in the News-Leader Game of the Week.

    Ozark junior fullback Nathaniel Burlage (33) and the Tigers host rival Nixa Friday, Oct. 7 in the News-Leader Game of the Week.


    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorsOzark junior fullback Nathaniel Burlage (33) and the Tigers host rival Nixa Friday, Oct. 7 in the News-Leader Game of the Week.tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorsOzark junior fullback Nathaniel Burlage (33) and the Tigers host rival Nixa Friday, Oct. 7 in the News-Leader Game of the Week.

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    When the high school football playoffs fire up on Friday night, some spectators will wish they could be in multiple stadiums at the same time to see all the games.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Springfield hosts three playoff games and one regular season game, while Parkview travels just up 160 to nearby Willard for a full slate of Springfield football on Friday night. It was very difficult to single out one game as the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors, so we are stretching out the announcement to later in the week.

    Lee’s Summit North (2-7) at Kickapoo (8-1)

    Kickapoo clinched the top seed in its Class 6 district with only a 40-20 loss to rival Glendale blemishing the Chiefs’ record. Competition gets difficult with six of the eight teams in Kickapoo’s district coming from a loaded up Kansas City metro area.

    While Lee’s Summit North is 2-7, Kickapoo coach Kurt Thompson cautioned his team against taking the Broncos lightly.

    “They play all of those Class 6 schools week in and week out and they play with everybody; they just haven’t gotten over the hump in some games,” Thompson said. “We know we’re going to have to play well.”

    Thompson called Lee’s Summit North running back Tori Hicks, “as good of a tailback as we’ve seen.” Hicks averages 5.8 yards per carry with 131 rushing attempts for 763 yards and six rushing touchdowns.

    Broncos senior wide receiver Da’ron Davis is committed to play for the University of Missouri.

    Bolivar (5-4) at Hillcrest (4-5)

    Bolivar won five consecutive games before a 34-12 loss to Ozark derailed the Liberators to close the regular season. Hillcrest also comes off a loss to Class 6 Joplin, but the fact that the Hornets play six Ozark Conference games against teams from larger classes helped them secure the points needed to host a playoff game.

    Coach John Beckham had good things to say about Hillcrest after the 38-35 loss to Joplin.

    “I think we’re on the cusp of being a good football team. I was very impressed with how our kids played Friday night. We were behind the whole time, they kept battling, kept fighting, and we had a chance,” Beckham said.

    Hillcrest’s top concern going into Friday’s game will be to slow Bolivar’s offensive skill position trio of Connor Sechler at quarterback, Lane Loomer at running back and Brandon Emmert at tight end.

    Eldon (5-4) at Springfield Catholic (6-3)

    Catholic used stingy defense to secure a 16-14 win over Reeds Spring on Friday night, which forced a three-way tie atop the Central Ozark Conference Small Division to close the regular season. The Fightin’ Irish share the conference championship with Bolivar and Reeds Spring.

    Catholic ran the table in the second half of the regular season with four straight wins. While most coaches don’t like to look ahead, Steve Hancock did so in a long heart-to-heart talk with the Irish after a 35-7 loss to Bolivar.

    “When we first started talking about it, I don’t know if they believed me or not or really thought we could do that, but as we got on a roll and we started winning, each game we won you could see the confidence level rise,” Hancock said.

    Hancock feels Eldon is a better team than its records show. Three of Eldon’s four losses occurred against opponents who are either ranked in the top 10 or are at least receiving votes in the Missouri Media Rankings headed into the playoffs.

    High school football district playoffs (Week 10)

    Friday, Oct. 21, all games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

    Class 6

    Lee’s Summit North (2-7) at Kickapoo (8-1)

    Joplin (5-4) at Lee’s Summit West (7-2)

    Class 5

    Waynesville (0-9) at Branson (2-7)

    Glendale (9-0) BYE (awaits Waynesville/Branson winner)

    Central (0-9) at Lebanon (6-3)

    Ozark (7-2) BYE (awaits Central/Lebanon winner

    Parkview (2-7) at Willard (3-6)

    Carthage (8-1) BYE (awaits Parkview/Willard winner)

    Republic (2-7) at Neosho (5-4)

    Nixa (5-4) BYE (awaits Republic/Neosho winner)

    Class 4

    Rolla (1-8) at St. Clair (5-4)

    McDonald County (0-9) at Carl Junction (7-2)

    Bolivar (5-4) at Hillcrest (4-5)

    Marshfield (2-7) at Webb City (6-3)

    West Plains (4-5) at Camdenton (6-3)

    Class 3

    Buffalo (2-7) at Owensville (9-0)

    Rogersville (4-5) at Sullivan (4-5)

    St. James (4-5) at School of the Osage (8-1)

    Eldon (5-4) at Springfield Catholic (6-3)

    Aurora (2-7) at Reeds Spring (7-2)

    Hollister (5-4) at Mt. Vernon (5-4)

    Seneca (3-6) at Monett (8-1)

    East Newton (3-6) at Cassville (7-2)

    Class 2

    Houston (1-8) at Mountain View-Liberty (9-0)

    Willow Springs (5-4) at Diamond (7-2)

    Cuba (1-7) at Mountain Grove (8-1)

    Strafford (3-6) at Ava (7-2)

    Warsaw (0-9) at Lamar (8-0)

    Versailles (3-6) at Stockton (5-4)

    California (2-7) at Fair Grove (9-0)

    El Dorado Springs (3-6) at Cole Camp (7-2)

    Class 1

    Miller (2-7) at Ash Grove (6-3)

    Cabool (0-9) at Sarcoxie (5-3)

    Pleasant Hope (1-8) at Thayer (4-5)

    Marionville (2-7) at Pierce City (4-3)

    Rich Hill (1-8) at Cass-Midway (8-1)

    Archie (2-7) at Drexel (6-3)

    Liberal (2-7) at Lockwood (7-2)

    Jasper (3-6) at Adrian (5-4)

    Osceola (0-9) at Lincoln (9-0)

    Tipton (3-6) at Appleton City (7-2)

    Lone Jack (2-7) at Skyline (6-3)

    Windsor (4-5) at Crest Ridge (7-2)

    8-man

    Greenfield (7-0) BYE (awaits Northwest(Hughesville)(3-5)/Chilhowee (1-7) winner)


    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    Bob Vanatta might be best remembered for coaching the Missouri State (then Southwest Missouri State) men’s basketball team to back-to-back national championships, but his lesser-known influence on Springfield sports lingers to this day.

     

    Memphis State Basketball School coach Bob Vanatta (right) helps an enrollee in a youth basketball camp, 11-year-old Ricky Ferguson, on May 9, 1957. Vanatta died Saturday at 98.

    Memphis State Basketball School coach Bob Vanatta (right) helps an enrollee in a youth basketball camp, 11-year-old Ricky Ferguson, on May 9, 1957. Vanatta died Saturday at 98.

    Vanatta died Saturday in Melbourne, Florida, at the age of 98. Two days later, the club he helped establish 64 years ago mourned him. Vanatta started the Springfield Quarterback Club in 1952 to drum up interest in high school and college football in Springfield. Vanatta is gone, but a proud tradition lives on each Monday as fans gather to hear updates from seven high school football coaches and two college coaches.

    A sister club, the Springfield Tipoff Club, holds similar meetings on Mondays during basketball season.

    Before he became a college coach, Vanatta got his start coaching at Springfield Senior High School (now Central) in 1944. His schedule would be a nightmare for modern day coaches. By 1945, Vanatta was Springfield High’s athletic director and head coach of the football, basketball and baseball teams.

    Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.

    Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.

    In Vanatta’s first season as a varsity basketball coach, Springfield went 30-3 and finished second to Conway in the state tournament. Gerald Jinks was a sophomore on that basketball team and remembers Vanatta’s passion as a coach.

    “His personality was excellent,” Jinks said. “He was a player-coach and he had all kinds of personality. He actually got more potential out of an individual than you would expect.”

    Vanatta was the varsity football coach for one year. In 1945, the Bulldogs went 10-0. Jinks was a tight end on that football team and said Vanatta was firm but fair with his players.

    “(Vanatta) wanted you to do your job. If you weren’t playing well, you didn’t play. He would enforce his rules, but you didn’t want to get out of line. He was like such a father to all the boys, and that made a great, great situation for us,” Jinks said. “(Vanatta) was just fun to be around.”

    70 years later: Springfield’s 1945 football team still holds record

    Jack Hunt, Ray Haley and Jinks led an offense considered “high speed” by sportswriters of the time.

    Thad Peak, Marvin Estes, Merle Blakely, Jim Julian, Jim Barber and Scott Angevine blocked for Springfield High’s talented stable of backs. Hunt scored 121 of the Bulldogs’ 342 points. Springfield High held opposing offenses to just 50 points in 10 games.

    Former Missouri State athletic director Bill Rowe credited Vanatta for coaching Missouri State into notoriety with its men’s basketball NAIA championships in 1952 and 1953.

    A story from the March 23, 1952 edition of the Springfield News & Leader profiles coach Bob Vanatta and his NAIB national championship team's preparation for a postseason game against 1952 NCAA champion Kansas as part of the U.S. trials for the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

    A story from the March 23, 1952 edition of the Springfield News & Leader profiles coach Bob Vanatta and his NAIB national championship team’s preparation for a postseason game against 1952 NCAA champion Kansas as part of the U.S. trials for the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

    “We can never forget where we came from,” Rowe said. “(Vanatta) knows that was never forgotten, and his players—they were very, very—they taught all of us a lot about togetherness. Those guys still stay in touch to this day.”

    Vanatta went on to coach at Army, Bradley, Memphis State, Missouri and Delta State. He served as an athletic director at Oral Roberts University and Louisiana Tech, commissioner of the Ohio Valley, Atlantic Sun and Sunshine State conferences and executive director of the Independence Bowl.

    Throughout his travels, Vanatta maintained contact with friends in Springfield, even through his retirement years in Florida.

    “He had stayed in touch with us and still was very rational,” Rowe said.

    Springfield Quarterback Club

    The Springfield Quarterback Club holds its final meeting of the 2016 season Monday. Senior players from seven teams will be on hand to be honored, and the club will present four annual awards. The Quarterback Club meets Monday at noon at the Elks Lodge at 2223 East Bennett Street in Springfield. Admission is open to the public, lunch is included and the cost is $10 per person to attend.

    Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.

    Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.

    Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.

    Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.

    Coach Bob Vanatta appears in an undated photograph from the News-Leader archives.

    Coach Bob Vanatta appears in an undated photograph from the News-Leader archives.

    A newspaper clipping from the News and Leader in 1945 of the undefeated Springfield Senior High (now Central) football team.

    A newspaper clipping from the News and Leader in 1945 of the undefeated Springfield Senior High (now Central) football team.


    tdunhamusatodayMemphis State Basketball School coach Bob Vanatta (right) helps an enrollee in a youth basketball camp, 11-year-old Ricky Ferguson, on May 9, 1957. Vanatta died Saturday at 98.Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.A story from the March 23, 1952 edition of the Springfield News & Leader profiles coach Bob Vanatta and his NAIB national championship team's preparation for a postseason game against 1952 NCAA champion Kansas as part of the U.S. trials for the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.Coach Bob Vanatta appears in an undated photograph from the News-Leader archives.A newspaper clipping from the News and Leader in 1945 of the undefeated Springfield Senior High (now Central) football team.tdunhamusatodayMemphis State Basketball School coach Bob Vanatta (right) helps an enrollee in a youth basketball camp, 11-year-old Ricky Ferguson, on May 9, 1957. Vanatta died Saturday at 98.Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.A story from the March 23, 1952 edition of the Springfield News & Leader profiles coach Bob Vanatta and his NAIB national championship team's preparation for a postseason game against 1952 NCAA champion Kansas as part of the U.S. trials for the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.Bob Vanatta, who coached at both Springfield Senior High and MSU, died recently in Florida. Vanatta left a lasting legacy in area sports.Coach Bob Vanatta appears in an undated photograph from the News-Leader archives.A newspaper clipping from the News and Leader in 1945 of the undefeated Springfield Senior High (now Central) football team.

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    The dust is still settling from the night Glendale High School’s football team scored 85 points.

    Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) and wide receiver Nader Leali (23) celebrate after Leali scored a touchdown during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016.

    Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) and wide receiver Nader Leali (23) celebrate after Leali scored a touchdown during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016.

    The Falcons (11-0) are preparing to host a Class 5 playoff quarterfinal game against Fort Zumwalt North (10-1). Glendale quarterback Alex Huston enters the game officially 365-for-515 passing for 5,790 yards, 73 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

    According to Glendale’s statisticians, Huston was officially 33-of-48 passing for 706 yards and nine touchdowns in an 85-44 district championship win over Ozark. He also rushed for 16 yards and two touchdowns, for an official total of 722 yards of total offense.

    The 722 yards would have shattered the officially listed Missouri State High School Activities Association record of 667 yards of total offense by T.J. Moe of Ft. Zumwalt South against Jefferson City in 2008. However, it appears someone got to the individual single-game record for total offense before Huston could. Princeton quarterback Andrew Smith threw for 675 yards and rushed for 79 yards in an 80-73 loss to Polo on Oct. 21, adding up to 754 yards.

    Huston’s 706 passing yards do appear to set a state record, and his nine touchdowns ties a record that Huston and Smith already shared.

    Records aside, Huston is thriving in a five-wide receiver, hurry up offense that Falcons coach Mike Mauk brought with him from Kenton, Ohio three years ago.

    “(Huston) is able to get that protection from the offensive line, avoid a few sacks, and then our receivers are able to get open,” Mauk said.

    Ft. Zumwalt North

    Friday’s game marks Fort Zumwalt North’s fourth consecutive Class 5 playoff quarterfinal appearance.

    Senior quarterback Cade Brister leads the Panthers offense with 1,609 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns. Brister is 74-of-99 passing for 1,192 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    Brister’s completion percentage of 74.7 is actually higher than Huston’s percentage of 70.9.

    Fort Zumwalt North, like Glendale, relies heavily on shotgun formations, but the Panthers also use concepts from the flex bone to run the ball more than Glendale does.

    Mauk and his staff face the task of preparing for an unfamiliar opponent, but don’t expect Glendale to deviate much from the passing that got the Falcons this far in the playoffs.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    “You try to do what you do. We’re going to do what we do, and I’m sure they’re going to do what they do. They’re not familiar with us either, so it kind of goes both ways. We’ll work on the things we need to work on to try to make our team better,” Mauk said.

    Ft. Zumwalt North brings a 10-game winning streak in Friday’s game, having dropped the season opener to Ladue Horton Watkins 24-21. The Panthers compete in the Central Division of the Gateway Athletic Conference.

    This year’s Falcons are the first Glendale High School football team to win 11 games in one season. No Springfield high school football team has ever won 12 games in one year.

    News-Leader Playoff Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Fort Zumwalt North (10-1) at Glendale (11-0)

    Friday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m.

    Lowe Stadium, Glendale


    tdunhamusatodayGlendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) and wide receiver Nader Leali (23) celebrate after Leali scored a touchdown during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayGlendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) and wide receiver Nader Leali (23) celebrate after Leali scored a touchdown during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    Here is a state championship edition of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week as we look back on the state cross country, boys soccer and boys swimming championship events:

    Claire Workman

    Summit Prep cross country

    Claire Workman, Summit Prep

    Claire Workman, Summit Prep

    It was another year of cross country, and another 1-2-3 finish for Summit Prep at the state cross country championships. Workman took a third consecutive Class 1 state championship in Jefferson City by navigating five kilometers at Oak Hills Golf Course in Jefferson City in 19:00.60. What’s better for Summit Prep, twins Claire McCune and Katie McCune finished in second and third place, respectively. That gives Summit Prep back-to-back 1-2-3 finishes at state, and a first-ever state championship.

    Tabitha Weber

    Marshfield cross country

    Weber capped off a fine four-year career by doing the one thing that eluded her for her underclass years. She won first place in the Class 2 state championship race. The Marshfield senior jumped out to lead the first of three miles, and gained enough advantage to win the final 160-meter sprint to the finish. Weber’s time of 18:59.92 was more than 30 seconds faster than her previous best at Oak Hills. Weber placed seventh in the Class 3 state race as a junior, 10th as a sophomore and sixth as a freshman.

    Stephen Kielhofner

    Springfield Catholic cross country

    Springfield Catholic moved up from Class 2 to Class 3 in cross country in the offseason, but that didn’t stop Kielhofner from winning back-to-back state championships. Kielhofner flew around the 5k course in 15:36.61 to win the 2016 state championship by more than 12 seconds. Kielhofner is a junior who will have the chance to become a three-time state champion next fall.

    Monett boys soccer team

    When you consider what the Cubs achieved this season, it’s impossible to single out one player. Coach Christobal Villa’s squad finished the season 19-7-1 with a 3-0 loss to John Burroughs (20-4) in the Class 2 state championship game in Fenton. Monett had never been to a boys soccer final four, let alone had a shot at a state championship.

    Jason Puente, Monett

    Jason Puente, Monett

    Sophomore Jason Puente led Monett in scoring with 43 goals this season. Goalkeeper Cameron Cody played for two winning Monett teams on Friday. First he shutout O’Hara in the soccer Cubs’ 2-0 semifinal win. He then boarded Jack Henry and Associates’ private jet and was flown to Monett to kick in the football Cubs’ 44-28 playoff win over Mt. Vernon.

    Cole Earl

    Glendale swimming and diving

    Earl took the third place bronze medal in the one-meter diving event at the Missouri State High School Activities Association Boys Swimming and Diving Championships at the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Earl’s 11 dives netted a score of 459.20, 26.8 points behind champion Peter Lucido of Francis Howell North. Earl, a gymnast converted into a diver, is just a sophomore and a two-time state qualifier.

    Varsity sports coaches, would you like to nominate one of your players to be an American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performer of the Week? Email your nomination to News-Leader high school sports reporter Rance Burger (rburger@news-leader.com) by 5 p.m. each Monday.

    American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week

    American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week


    tdunhamusatodayClaire Workman, Summit PrepJason Puente, MonettAmerican Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the WeektdunhamusatodayClaire Workman, Summit PrepJason Puente, MonettAmerican Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week

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    Jared Ridder faxed his letter of intent to the Xavier University athletic department at 7:07 a.m.

    The 6-foot-7 sharpshooter’s official signing ceremony at Kickapoo High School about eight hours later was still special.

    Jared Ridder signs a national letter of intent to Xavier University during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.

    Jared Ridder signs a national letter of intent to Xavier University during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.

    “It’s just a huge relief just knowing that I know where I’m going and I can just enjoy my senior season, and just have fun with it,” Ridder said. “I’ve really worked hard to get here.”

    Wednesday marked the beginning of the early signing period for high school athletes to sign National Letters of Intent with NCAA Division I sports teams, apart from football. The early signing period lasts until Nov. 16. The signing period for football opens Feb. 1, and the basketball signing window reopens on April 12.

    Kickapoo celebrated a total of nine college sports signings on Wednesday, and three of them were NCAA Division I college basketball signings: Ridder to Xavier, Cameron Davis to Navy and Jordan Sanders to University of California-Irvine.

    Ridder led Kickapoo in scoring and rebounding as a junior with 20.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-7 forward shot 37.4 percent from beyond the three-point line. Kickapoo went 29-3 and lost to Chaminade in the Class 5 state championship game.

    Ridder fielded a total of 15 NCAA Division I basketball scholarship offers. He took unofficial visits to Missouri, Nebraska, Missouri State and Wichita State. He committed to Xavier on his first official visit, and said he felt that the Musketeers are a basketball family.

    “I love their campus, I love their coaches, and I loved how the team interacted with each other,” Ridder said. “I really didn’t know until I got there and got a feel for it, right after that is when it hit me.”

    Davis, on track to be a valedictorian at Kickapoo, plans to study nuclear engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy.

    “I love being challenged in the classroom,” Davis said. “Definitely, I took into consideration the academic pressure that was going to put on me, but also the pressure to be a leader in the United States Navy. That’s important to me as well.”

    Davis was second on a talent-laden Chiefs team in scoring with 13.5 points per game. He was second on the team with 78 assists.

    Cameron Davis signs a national letter of intent to the Naval Academy during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.

    Cameron Davis signs a national letter of intent to the Naval Academy during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.

    For this year’s Chiefs to have success, Davis will need to take on more leadership, and that’s alright with him.

    “I want to have an impact on the world, that I’m going to be able to look back on it and go, ‘wow, I really affected a bunch of people.’ At the academy, I’ll get the leadership training that I need,” Davis said.

    This past summer, Ridder and Davis took part in winning one of the most prestigious AAU tournaments in the nation.

    Playing for Overland Park, Kansas-based MoKan Elite, Ridder and Davis won the championship of the Nike EYBL Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina. The annual tournament pits the best teams in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League against one another in front of an audience of college scouts.

    Signing his letter of intent right next to Ridder, someone Davis considers a best friend since the two were fourth graders, made the moment more special.

    “I can’t say enough about (Ridder), and we always told each other that we were going to sign together and everything. Now, getting it to come true — I mean, it’s just a dream come true. It’s incredible, I can’t really describe it,” Davis said.

    Sanders led Kickapoo’s girls basketball team in scoring with 15.6 points per game and in rebounding with 6.9 rebounds per game. She scored 437 points in 30 games.

    Jordan Sanders (left) signs a national letter of intent to the University of California-Irvine during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.

    Jordan Sanders (left) signs a national letter of intent to the University of California-Irvine during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.

    Kickapoo comes off a 29-3 campaign in which the Chiefs won the Class 5 state championship.

    For Sanders, Signing Day was surreal.

    “I’ve gone to a signing every year, and it’s weird that now it’s me,” Sanders said.

    The UC-Irvine women’s basketball team went 4-27 last season. Sanders hopes to be part of a turnaround process for the Anteaters.

    “I like that it was a program where I could go and help rebuild,” Sanders said. “It’s going to be rough, maybe, but it’ll be fun.”

    Prior to rebuilding in California, Sanders wants to try to lead Kickapoo back to the final four.

    “We have a lot of new faces, but I think they can step up and take the roles of the players that we lost,” Sanders said.

    Ridder, Davis and Sanders were all named all-state by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association in 2016.

    Prep Sports presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    Prep Sports presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    High school athletes who signed or planned to sign National Letters of Intent during the Nov. 9-16, 2016 early signing period

    Wednesday, Nov. 9

    Summit Prep

    Claire Workman, cross country and track and field, Oklahoma State

    Glendale

    Alex Locke, golf, Maryville University

    Elizabeth Quinn, volleyball, William Jewell

    Kate Arthur, soccer, Greenville

    Tripp Horsey, baseball, University of Missouri-St. Louis

    Eli Wells, baseball, Central Missouri State

    Stephen Bates, soccer, Evangel

    Kickapoo

    Jordan Sanders, basketball, University of California-Irvine

    Ari Acuff, golf, Navy

    Cameron Davis, basketball, Navy

    Jared Ridder, basketball, Xavier

    Adam Link, baseball, Drury

    Robbie Merced, baseball, Missouri State

    Megan Tiede, softball, Evangel

    Michael Barnes, baseball, Fort Scott Community College

    Bailey Cantu, baseball, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College

    Greenwood

    Tony Brandt, golf, Drury

    Thursday, Nov. 10

    Purdy

    Rion Boyd, softball, Missouri Southern State

    Friday, Nov. 11

    Branson

    Amanda Kearney, basketball, Harding University

    Bruce Burtless, baseball, Longview College

    Dawson Nimmo, baseball, College of the Ozarks

    Monday, Nov. 14

    Springfield Catholic

    Josef Luthy, baseball, Southwest Baptist University

    Willard

    Ben Fugitt, baseball, Truman State

    Tuesday, Nov. 15

    Rogersville

    Jordan Fitzpatrick, baseball, Missouri State

    Hannah Hendrickson, volleyball, Western Colorado

    Ashley Pierson, volleyball, Georgia Court University

    Brittany Housley, dance/poms, Missouri Baptist

    Ari Acuff signs a national letter of intent to the Naval Academy during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.

    Ari Acuff signs a national letter of intent to the Naval Academy during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.


    tdunhamusatodayJared Ridder signs a national letter of intent to Xavier University during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.Cameron Davis signs a national letter of intent to the Naval Academy during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.Jordan Sanders (left) signs a national letter of intent to the University of California-Irvine during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.Prep Sports presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.Ari Acuff signs a national letter of intent to the Naval Academy during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.tdunhamusatodayJared Ridder signs a national letter of intent to Xavier University during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.Cameron Davis signs a national letter of intent to the Naval Academy during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.Jordan Sanders (left) signs a national letter of intent to the University of California-Irvine during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.Prep Sports presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.Ari Acuff signs a national letter of intent to the Naval Academy during a National Signing Day event held for Chiefs athletes at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 9, 2016.

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    The Glendale Falcons are two wins away from competing for a football state championship but hosts a team on a 10-game winning streak on Friday night.

    Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) walks into the end zone to score on a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016.

    Glendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) walks into the end zone to score on a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016.

    Glendale (11-0) comes off an 85-44 win over Ozark in which the Falcons set a state record with 706 passing yards by junior quarterback Alex Huston and a school record for the most points scored in a single football game. The Falcons host Ft. Zumwalt North (10-1), a team that hasn’t lost a game since the first week of the season.

    Glendale and Ft. Zumwalt North has been selected as the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    Elsewhere in the Class 5 playoff quarterfinals, Carthage (10-1) travels to Columbia to take on the undefeated Battle Spartans (11-0). Carthage comes off an impressive 47-7 win over Nixa in which quarterback Keith Guest II threw four touchdown passes. Carthage visits Battle at 1 p.m. Saturday.

    In other Saturday action, the Monett Cubs (11-1) host Owensville (12-0) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Burl Fowler Stadium.

    Owensville employs a pass-heavy offensive scheme. Quarterback Wyatt Ellis has passed for 2,337 yards and 32 touchdowns. The game could be an offensive shootout, as Monett scores more than 37 points per game on average.

    Cubs running back Michael Branch has 1,781 yards and 25 touchdowns on 221 rushing attempts.

    Undefeated Mountain View-Liberty (12-0) faces a drive of about three hours to take on the undefeated Lamar Tigers (11-0), who have won the last five Class 2 state championships. Lamar has not lost a playoff game since Nov. 20, 2010.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors


    Missouri high school football Week 13 playoff schedule 2016

    Class 6 semifinals

    Kirkwood (10-1) at Rockhurst (9-2), Friday 7 p.m.

    Blue Springs (11-1) at Christian Brothers College (10-2), Friday 7 p.m.

    Class 5 quarterfinals

    Chaminade (9-1) at Vianney (6-5), Friday 7 p.m.

    Park Hill South (10-1) at Staley (9-2), Friday 7 p.m.

    Ft. Zumwalt North (10-1) at Glendale (11-0), Friday 7 p.m.

    Carthage (10-1) at Battle (11-0), Saturday 1 p.m.

    Class 4 quarterfinals

    Ladue Horton Watkins (11-1) at Cape Girardeau Central (7-5), Friday 7 p.m.

    Hannibal (10-2) at Kearney (11-1), Saturday 1:30 p.m.

    Parkway North (10-2) at Parkway West (8-4), Friday 7 p.m.

    Harrisonville (9-3) at Webb City (9-3), Friday 7 p.m.

    Class 3 quarterfinals

    Park Hills Central (11-1) at Miller Career (9-2)(at Gateway STEM High), Saturday 1 p.m.

    Center (12-0) at Maryville (12-0), Saturday 1 p.m.

    Owensville (12-0) at Monett (11-1), Saturday 1 p.m.

    McCluer South-Berkeley (11-0) at Blair Oaks (11-0), Friday 7 p.m.

    Class 2 quarterfinals

    Malden (11-0) at Trinity Catholic (10-0), Friday 7 p.m.

    Summit Christian (11-1) at Lawson (10-2), Saturday 1 p.m.

    Mountain View-Liberty (12-0) at Lamar (11-0), Saturday 1:30 p.m.

    Brentwood (10-1) at Centralia (9-3), Saturday 1 p.m.

    Class 1 quarterfinals

    Valle Catholic (10-1) at Thayer (7-5), Saturday 1 p.m.

    Penney (Hamilton)(12-0) at Plattsburg (6-6), Friday 7 p.m.

    Cass-Midway (11-1) at Lincoln (12-0), Saturday 1 p.m.

    Marceline (12-0) at Monroe City (9-3), Saturday 1 p.m.

    8-man semifinals

    Stanberry (10-2) at Sacred Heart (7-3)(at Sedalia), Friday 7 p.m.

    North Andrew (11-0) at King City (8-3), Friday 7 p.m.


    tdunhamusatodayGlendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) walks into the end zone to score on a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayGlendale High School quarterback Alex Huston (7) walks into the end zone to score on a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the playoff game between Glendale High School and Ozark High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Nov. 4, 2016.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    Republic High School football coach Wes Beachler resigned from coaching on Thursday.

    Wes Beachler, center, coached the Republic High School football team for four years.

    Wes Beachler, center, coached the Republic High School football team for four years.

    Beachler remains on the faculty at Republic as a physical education teacher. When reached by phone on Thursday afternoon, Beachler said his decision to step down as football coach was not related to the Tigers’ football program or the Republic school district.

    “It’s just a personal decision, it’s nothing against Republic. It’s definitely nothing against the young men that I’ve had the pleasure of coaching over the past four years,” Beachler said.

    Beachler’s coaching career spans 25 seasons, and 21 of those are as a head coach. He gained a reputation for taking on struggling programs and coaching them into stronger teams.

    On Thursday, Beachler submitted a letter of resignation to Principal Tyler Overstreet and then broke the news to the football team.

    “I had a great visit with the administration and players today,” Beachler said.

    Beachler’s decision gives Republic administrators a full offseason to hire another head football coach.

    “The timing will give Republic plenty of time and a great opportunity to seek out good candidates,” Beachler said.

    The Tigers were a combined 15-25 over Beachler’s four seasons on the sideline. Prior to coaching at Republic, Beachler spent two seasons at Nevada and five seasons at Parkview. He was the head coach at Parkview when the Vikings snapped an infamous 58-game losing streak in a 39-36 overtime win over Hillcrest on Sept. 26, 2008, thanks to Josh Buford’s 25-yard field goal at Shumate Stadium.

    Beachler and his wife, Sarah, have four sons, the oldest of whom is a sophomore in high school.

    Republic High School football coach West Beachler's coaching career spans 25 years, and includes 21 years as a head coach.

    Republic High School football coach West Beachler’s coaching career spans 25 years, and includes 21 years as a head coach.


    tdunhamusatodayWes Beachler, center, coached the Republic High School football team for four years.Republic High School football coach West Beachler's coaching career spans 25 years, and includes 21 years as a head coach.tdunhamusatodayWes Beachler, center, coached the Republic High School football team for four years.Republic High School football coach West Beachler's coaching career spans 25 years, and includes 21 years as a head coach.

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    Missouri high school football Week 13 playoff schedule 2016

    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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