We marveled at the masterful football work of Dorial Green-Beckham at Hillcrest High the past four years because it was both so great and so unique. Not just for our region, but state and nationwide. We hailed it as something and someone we might not ever see again in our lifetimes.
And honestly, there’s a good chance in the Ozarks we won’t.
But it got me to thinking … as legitimately great as the DGB story was, have we really become numb to the year-in, year-out dominance that is Webb City Cardinals football? And actually, I should say decade-in, decade-out, because it’s literally been going on since the mid-1980s, with no signs of slippage whatsoever.
From Jerry Kill to Kurt Thompson to John Roderique … that machine just keeps churning out the goods. State titles (10 in all, including the last two in Class 4), double-digit victory totals per season, and the current, amazing string of 85 consecutive regular season triumphs heading into this Friday’s showdown with an unbeaten Nixa team in Webb City.
It’s to the point seemingly where we watch the Cardinals dominate the Ozarks’ scene, later to celebrate at midfield at the Edward Jones Dome most every November and say, “oh hey, look … Webb City won state again. What’s for dinner tonight, honey?”
We are witnessing greatness every year the Cardinals take the field. And perhaps that’s the best tribute to what Roderique and Co. have accomplished … it has come to be expected. The norm. We only bat an eye when a Webb City game appears closer than we thought it should have been … say, within two or three TDs.
Roderique has won a ridiculous 182 of the 200 games he has coached at Webb City, after Friday’s 48-7 blitzing of Republic. He’s guided them to seven of the school’s 10 state championships. The Cardinals have made the state playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons. Not sure what the folks of Webb City did in November of 1999, the last time they didn’t, but I’m guessing a whole lot more deer bit the dust in the Ozarks that fall than usual, and were probably shot multiple times.
When trying to figure out the secret formula to WCHS’s domination of the area scene, the obvious facets come to mind.
Number one, tradition. Everyone wants to be part of a winner.
Great coaches and coaching staffs.
Hard-working, blue-collar athletes who don’t want to be forever known as the ones who were responsible for any slippage in the program.
But I think there’s another that goes unnoticed.
Check out the scores the Cardinals put up week to week. You don’t see them typically hanging 65 to 70 opponents on every foe when you know they could beat most teams in the area as badly as they want to. (Disclaimer: They beat Carthage 67-20 in Week Two, but led 48-6 at half and had all their scores from backups in the second half).
The Cardinals tend to jump on people quickly and then go to work on making their program better, playing younger kids and backups who work just as hard in practice as the starters do. It rewards them for their efforts, and at the same time, it makes Webb City that much deeper in the event of injury. My guess is another way the Cardinals draw so many kids out for football, aside from the aforementioned reasons, is that those younger players know that Webb is going to have so many blowouts, they’ve got an opportunity to see the field late in most games.
“Morale is a big part of it,” Roderique said. “Our young kids can still get in there with less pressure, and that’s good in a lot of ways.”
And where that ultimately pays off … when other defending state champions or state contenders who relied heavily on senior classes go into reload mode the following season, the Cardinals rarely skip a beat early on because so many of those fresh, new faces have had an opportunity to see substantial varsity time.
Roderique says his kids from the 2010 state championship team went back and calculated that they played in only 32 of the 60 quarters during that 15-0 run. And the beauty of it all … those starters don’t gripe about it, because they were once those young kids who were hungry for playing time in the blowouts.
It all explains in part why the transition from backup to starter at Webb City seems to go much more smoothly than for others.
That, and the fact that the Cardinals are just darn good every year, with no dropoff in sight.
Coaching comes into question for K.C.
*Speaking of track records … Can anyone really be surprised that Romeo Crennel is failing to get the job done as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs?
They’ve opened the campaign with back-to-back embarrassing efforts, particularly on defense, which is Crennel’s specialty. Now he’s trying to do both jobs, and it is failing miserably. Crennel went 26-41 as the boss man in Cleveland. I understand that’s Cleveland, where the Browns have a history of stink, but honestly, they’re not all that far behind the Chiefs of late in that regard.
Crennel can be, and has been, a darn good defensive coordinator, and sometimes guys simply are more cut out to be coordinators. It’s not entirely his fault … much more of the blame should fall on the guy who put him in this position, GM Scott Pioli.
Yes, the guy who also signed career (college and pro) backup Matt Cassel to a $63 million contract extension (with $28 million guaranteed salary) before the epitome of QB mediocrity ever threw a pass as a Kansas City Chiefs or had done anything to prove himself worthy of such a big payday.
The Chiefs go to New Orleans this weekend to face a ticked-off Saints team looking to get untracked after an 0-2 start and likely licking its chops at the prospects of facing that porous KC defense.
Looking ahead, there’s a possibility this Chiefs team could be 1-5 heading into its Week Seven bye, when teams have two weeks to adjust to any personnel changes. It says here that if that’s the case, it ought to be Pioli, and not Crennel, who’s shown the door.
Sunday’s 35-17 loss at Buffalo – in which the Chiefs trailed 35-3 early in the fourth quarter – was the peak of embarrassment for this franchise. Chiefs fans are a loud and loyal bunch who’ve suffered long enough under this new regime. They deserve better.
Or they at least deserve the same hope that the Rams fans have now thanks to the hiring of a proven winner of a head coach in Jeff Fisher … one of those guys that Kansas City likely could have had if Pioli once again had made the right call.
This is Year Four in the Pioli Plan, and I doubt you can find a Chiefs fan chanting “four more years.” Although four more months might be all that’s needed to put KC in place to trot USC’s Matt Barkley out there as its starting QB in the near future.
*QUICKIES: Great to see Mizzou trying to get the ball in DGB’s hands in more ways than the forward pass, with Green-Beckham picking up four rushing attempts for 19 net yards in Saturday’s narrow 24-20 win over Arizona State. Just getting him on the field more often, as stated last week, is a step in the right direction. …
Congrats to the Springfield Cardinals on their first Texas League championship won over the weekend in Frisco. This team was even more fun to watch because you knew you were seeing guys who legitimately have a great shot at making a difference in big-league Cards uniform some day, like Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong, etc. …
Surely, Arkansas AD Jeff Long has ramped up his efforts to identify the next Razorbacks coach after Saturday’s 52-0 home butt-kickin’ at the hands of Bama. That could be interesting, because I’m sure some current head coaches and top assistants at other BCS powers are on that list, meaning Long likely can’t actually do any legwork on filling the void and contact some of those folks until perhaps late December or January when their seasons are over.
If only Petrino had put his bike in the ditch several months earlier, Long could have plucked Urban Meyer out of the “big name, retired but still wanting to coach” pool, which has since dried up. Of course, Houston Nutt is still available …
They might lose to Ozark in soccer, no chance in football, you can borrow Nixa's WE BELIEVE sign, Good Luck!
Issei has put impressive numbers, but will not come very close to betting the Cards
Webb City Cardinals
The statement that when they are not in the playoffs and thus go deer hunting and many deer are killed: The statement that the kill are shot multiple times is brilliant. Excellent writer whose write between the lines comments makes the reader think. lol
I'll be impressed when and if they ever win a 5A state championship. Camdenton used to be a powerhouse in 4A too, maybe not like Webb City but, look at the now.
I find it really funny how Webb City can be in the news every year for winning the way it does. But, there isn't a single word about and or on Webb City with how they get their players to come and play for them. The last I knew, only private schoolcould legally recruit. I guess MSHAA is willing to turn a blind eye to this rule for Webb City
saying Webb City recruits is stupid. 99% of those kids have worked hard since they started webb football in 3rd grade. That is just a stupid comment from someone that is uneducated about what makes that program successful.