By Pat Dailey (Ozarks Sports Zone)
REEDS SPRING, Mo. — Reeds Spring coasted to a 35-7 victory in what amounted to a COC Small Schools championship game.
Reeds Spring (7-2 overall and 5-0 in the COC) wrapped up its first outright league title since the 1990s and became the first school other than Bolivar to win an outright COC Small Schools championship in the conference’s final season.
With all-state lineman Austin Bradfield and his cohorts along the offensive line creating gaping holes for fullback Kelly Newton and company, the Wolves jumped on top 14-0 and were up 27-7 midway through the second quarter.
Reeds Spring’s first 13 offensive plays from scrimmage resulted in four touchdowns and 273 rushing yards.
“I don’t know if we’ve been more focused than we were tonight,” coach Lance Gosch said. “The guys did a nice job offensively, defensively and on special teams. It was a great team effort. They worked hard to get here and it’s awesome to see it all come to fruition for them. I’m very proud of them.”
“I thought it would be a lot closer game, but we came out firing,” Newton said. “Our blocking schemes were great and our blocking outside was great. We were ready for this game. We were hyped.”
Newton broke loose for touchdown runs of 69 and 67 yards. He had 176 yards on five carries in the first half and finished with 240 yards rushing on a dozen carries.
“A lot of that comes from what we did up front,” Gosch said. “That allowed him to get to the second level. He uses his athleticism past that. We like that he’s quick to the hole, has great vision and makes good good cuts.
Halfback Seth Stamps, only two weeks removed from a shoulder injury that shelved him for a game, also had two touchdown runs in the first half.
Reeds Spring’s ground game totaled 323 yards in the first half alone. The Wolves ran to the edges early and often while having six plays of 30-plus yards in the opening half.
“It was catch-up all night long,” said Catholic coach Steve Hancock, whose team fell to 7-2 and 4-1. “That’s not a good situation to get into.”
“Their kids up front were physical and they have good speed in their backfield,” Hancock added. “We went in with the idea of stuffing them up the middle and we did. But we couldn’t get to them on the perimeter. They did a nice job blocking on the perimeter and their kids did a nice job running in open space.”
Meanwhile, openings of any sort were few for the Irish. Quarterback Tyson Riley managed just 22 yards on 14 runs. He lost yardage on six carries.
“That doesn’t happen very often,” Hancock said. “We got handled up front. It’s hard to get anything going when you can’t get any movement up front. Defensively, they played lights out also. They gave us fits.”
“We knew their offense goes through (Riley),” Gosch said. “We did some things defensively to try to limit his touches. What it came down to was the kids were disciplined with their reads all night.”
Reeds Spring shut out Catholic’s offense over the final three quarters.
Bradfield has received all-state honors the past two seasons at center. He’s enjoying a breakout senior season as a defensive end. He was in on three quarterback sacks and a tackle for a loss Friday, teaming with fellow lineman Cole Crutcher for two sacks.
“After we got one, we were hyped,” Bradfield said. “Crutcher said to me, ‘Let’s go get another one!’”
“Much credit to (Riley). He’s a great quarterback,” Crutcher said. “But we’re speed-rushers. We get a chance to get around the tackle and we’re going to get to any QB.”
Reeds Spring 35, Catholic 7
Catholic 7 0 0 0 – 7
Reeds Spring 21 6 0 8 – 35
RS – Kelly Newton 69 run (Cotton Cramblett kick)
RS – Seth Stamps 39 run (Cramblett kick)
SC – Tyson Riley 1 run (Logan Brock kick)
RS – Set Stamps 1 run (Cramblett kick)
RS – Newton 67 run (kick no good)
RS – Cole Watson 12 run (Watson pass from Blake Gronvold)