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Caruthersville Can’t Cap a Classic | MSHSAA

The Gridiron Geek’s Week 4 River Rankings

Caruthersville Can’t Cap a Classic The Valle Catholic Warriors do not send graduates to the Power 5 on an annual basis. But Valle welcomes lots of Juco or NAIA-bound student-athletes from throughout St. Genevieve County, while competing in Class 1 – the lowest division of 11-man football in MSHSAA.

As a result, the private Catholic school blows out almost every opponent. In fact, the school recently enjoyed one of the longest winning streaks in prep football history…and rarely broke a sweat producing it.

Before kickoff, opposing coaches talk up their team’s opportunity to compete with the Blue & White. Those pipe dreams are filled with wheatena as Coach Judd Naeger’s tall WRs fly down the field and gobble-up receptions in the 1st quarter. The high-tempo Warrior offense usually puts up 3 or 4 touchdowns before anyone can catch a breath.

Down 35 or 42 points at halftime, Valle opponents usually have a soul-searching moment in the locker room and come out swinging…against the JV Warriors. The underdogs manage a touchdown or 2 as Naeger slows down his offense and rotates underclassmen onto the field. But nobody ever expects an actual comeback to happen.

Enter the Caruthersville Tigers, who always seem to defy expectations.

Friday night marked the 2nd year in a row in which the Tigers have almost beaten Valle. But that’s not the story. The story is that the program nearly pulled off one of the greatest come-from-behind victories in the history of MSHSAA.

The Warriors held a 39-7 lead at halftime. At that point, The Geek (and surely other bloggers) decided not to keep tabs on the 2nd half or bore the readers with live updates. Valle had once again asserted its dominance over every small school within 200 miles, and that was that.

Caruthersville’s Deandre Davis scored a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Big wow. The Warriors would leave their seniors in, tic-tac-toe down the field and rack up more stats for the newspaper. But the ensuing drive unexpectedly stalled out. On the punt, wideout Chris Smith ignited the Tigers with a 56-yard return for a score.

39-21. Now things were getting serious.

Valle managed to press ahead and control the ball, pinning the Red and White-clad visitors inside their own 10 with less than 10:00 remaining. In a flash, Charles Golliday hit senior Bryce Strawn for a 92-yard TD. But jubilation turned to anxiety as the XP failed, leaving the score at 39-27. A 12-point lead is very different from an 11-point lead.

Another open door for the Warriors? Nope. A whoop-and-holler sideline lifted the Tiger defense, and Golliday hit Strawn for a 3rd touchdown pass between the pair. Only 5 points now separated the teams. Naeger then blinked, going for a long-shot 4th down conversion on the Caruthersville 24 instead of looking for an “insurance” FG. The gamble didn’t work.

Here came the Tigers (Ohhhh-OOOoohhhhh!) marching toward the goal-line again as Blue alumni turned green in the bleachers. But credit goes to Valle for an amazing defensive stand in the shadow of its own uprights. Golliday tossed 2 passes into the Warrior end zone, but each fell harmlessly to the turf as the game was decided 39-34 for the favorites with :33 left on the clock.

“No moral victories,” goes the cliche. But there is such a thing as a healthy result for both teams. The Caruthersville Varsity Tigers can boast of a momentous road trip in Weeks 2 and 3, having collectively out-scored 2 of the best MSHSAA programs this side of Webb City, 67 to 46.

Meanwhile, Valle Catholic learns a hard lesson about over-confidence that may come in handy when the squad faces its next real scrape – which could occur when Valle visits Jefferson High School on 9/22.

 

Week 4 River Rankings (MSHSAA District 1, All Classes)

 

#1 – Vianney Golden Griffiths (3-0)

Vianney was leaps and bounds better than everyone else in Class 5 last season. As for their All-Class status in the state? Yes, they lost to Kirkwood in ’16…but that was during a protracted season-opening slump. The Griffiths’ other recent loss to a 6A power (CBC) came at season’s end when coaches did not dare overtax the team’s stars before the playoffs. The 2017 squad flipped the script again in Week 3, showing championship form in a 35-14 revenge-rout over Providence.

#2 – Kirkwood Pioneers (3-0)

All looked rosy after 2 decisive wins against MSHSAA’s aristocrats. But the Pioneers had unexpected episodes in Week 3 against Lafayette, a team which has not distinguished itself as more than a scrappy upstart – until now. The home-standing Lancers went berserk in the 1st half, scoring the first 14 points and holding a lead for 22 minutes of game-clock.

A minor hiccup, but good enough to place KHS below the impressive Golden Griffiths.

#3 – Lafayette Lancers (2-1)

Maybe not a moral win. But a growing-pains loss, at least, in Week 3 against the defending 6A champs. This Friday brings a trip to Lindbergh High which should prove more difficult than last year’s 59-6 grounding of the Flyers.

#4 – Lindbergh Flyers (3-0)

Bombs and strafes! The Flyers stayed hot with a 43-26 win over Hazelwood Central, talented Rico Payton III catching 3 TD passes. This week, they get to demonstrate how far they’ve progressed in about a calendar year.

#5 Eureka Wildcats (3-0)

Eureka is behaving like a contender but does not have a signature win. Yet.

#6 – Jackson Indians (2-1)

The Indians enjoyed their “get-well game” last Friday with a 55-8 leashing of the Sikeston Bulldogs.

#7 – Cape Central (3-0)

Oakville was blown away 43-7 by Parkway Central on Friday night. That leaves more room for dangerous newcomers to rise in the top 10, but the CHS Tigers are on solid footing after a miraculous 40-35 win over visiting Farmington.

#8 – Farmington Knights (2-1)

The Knights settled on veteran QB Nathaniel Link to begin the season, and it has paid dividends. Link couldn’t stop CHS running back Aaron Harris from making a spectacular catch-and-run with seconds left on Friday, though, breaking hearts up and down the Mississippi.

#9 – Hillsboro Hawks (2-1)

The Hawks lost to Oakville on 8/25, but have looked better than the (OHS) Tigers otherwise.

#10 – Valle Catholic Warriors (3-0)

There is a question as to whether any Class 1 outfit could ever compete with a decent 5A team on a neutral field. But Valle gets the nod over Rockwood Summit at #10 due to the small school’s flashes of dominance – Summit (2-1) appears talented but nearly coughed it all up at Fox last week.

Falling out: Oakville, Caruthersville

Knocking on the door: Rockwood Summit, Park Hills Central

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