By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
A year ago Ladue came to Webb City and won 17-13 en route to a Class 4 state championship.
That loss was on everybody’s mind Saturday as the teams met for the third-straight year in the semifinals or later.
This time the Cardinals trotted off with heads held high after a 35-0 drubbing of the Rams.
“We knew what had to be accomplished and we knew what happened last year and the sick feeling we walked out with,” said Webb City junior Treghan Parker. “We didn’t want that to happen again and we did what we needed to do.”
Webb City coach John Roderique said it was apparent all week the Cardinals would play with a chip on their shoulder.
“Knowing how heartbreaking it was last year at this game at this field,” he said. “And knowing they were the ones that went on to win a state championship. You’ve got to have something that drives you and motivates you and our kids were highly motivated this week.”
Ladue, which entered Saturday averaging 40 points per game, was held scoreless for the first time since 2017 when the Rams lost 14-0 to Webb City in the state championship game.
The Cardinals limited the Rams to 116 total yards and set the tone offensively and defensively in the first quarter.
Webb City’s offense opened the game with an 80 yard, 15-play scoring drive that lasted more than seven-and-a-half minutes and ended on a 1-yard touchdown by junior Devrin Weathers.
Then, on Ladue’s first series, Parker came up with the first of his three interceptions to give Webb City the ball at the Ladue 25-yard line.
Weathers scored from the 15 five plays later and Webb City led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Ladue, which had just three offensive plays in the first, mounted its best drive of the game early in the second when the Rams drove to the Webb City 19 before turning it over on downs.
The Cardinals got another short field later in the first half after a short punt, but with a fourth-and-2 at the Ladue 31, Roderique called a timeout with 22 seconds left in the half.
Assistant coach Scott Roderique, John’s nephew and a former Webb City quarterback himself, called the play. Junior Eli Goddard entered the game at quarterback and threw a perfect pass to sophomore Cohl Vaden in the end zone and Webb City took a 21-0 lead into the half.
“What a great route by Cohl Vaden and Eli did what Eli’s done all year, come in and just start firing it away,” Roderique said. “We were trying to score on that one play we were going to have. That’s how we looked at that.”
Ladue coach Mike Tarpey cited the first quarter and that late touchdown as big factors in the game.
“Instead of being down 14 you’re down 21 and we always talk about if you’re down 21 it’s a tough thing to come back from,” he said. “So I think they set the tone the first quarter and then they ended the first half with that big play which makes it that much tougher to come back in the second half.”
The Webb City defense forced two punts in the third quarter to go along with a leaping interception by senior Terrell Kabala.
Webb City drove to the Ladue 13 before turning it over on downs, but Parker promptly came up with his second interception and returned it for a short touchdown. The score was called back for a block in the back, but senior Kade Hicks scored on a quarterback keeper from the 15 to make it 28-0 with 8:03 remaining in the game.
Senior Dillon Harfen added a 12-yard touchdown run with 3:55 left to play.
Moments later, Parker came up with his third interception after a pass by Ladue’s Henry McIntosh deflected off the hands of a receiver.
“We had a great week of preparation,” Parker said when explaining the defense’s big day. “Our coaches did a great job and everybody playing motivated, we played fast and they couldn’t really get anything going. The offense and defense complemented each other very well today.”
Webb City gained 375 yards of offense and rushed for 302. The Cardinals held a 25-6 advantage in first downs gained.
Kabala was the team’s leading rusher with 104 yards on 14 carries. Weathers added 80 yards and two scores and Harlen rushed for 58 yards on seven carries.
“That traditionally has been one of the best defenses we’ve ever faced,” Roderique said. “I mean those guys up front are amazing and they’ve been that way for three years and gosh, what a great job by our guys up front. I thought Kade did a really nice job making some nice reads and backs ran the ball hard. We’ll definitely take it. I thought it was a great performance by all of our guys.”
Ladue’s McIntosh was limited to 8-of-25 passing for 64 yards and four interceptions. The Rams rushed for 52 yards on 13 carries.
“I think they do what they do to everybody,” Tarpey said. “They do a great job of playing disciplined football, they keep things in front of them, they rally to the ball and so they make it really difficult for you to have the big plays. And then obviously with us trying to throw the ball into the wind, you know the wind was a factor but I thought Henry still threw the ball well. It did impact us a little, but I think what they do well is their scheme is not necessarily complicated they just execute it really well.”
Webb City now faces Platte County in the Class 4 title game as the Cardinals seek their 15th state championship.
“The whole year we’ve had a goal of 15 to fill that spot up there on the scoreboard and we get a shot to do that now,” said Hicks.