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When Cupcakes Fight Back

The Gridiron Geek’s Week 8 River Rankings

Wins and losses ultimately decide where NCAA and NFL teams rank among their rivals. On High School fields, high stakes and cupcakes are often light-years apart, which makes margin-of-victory a better litmus than W’s and L’s. When a program that ought to be a 40-point favorite wins by 4 points (or vice versa) it’s not a thunder-clap. It’s a twister.

Call it the “Woah!” factor. If Chaminade is tied at halftime with a school that uses an old barn for a band room, it doesn’t matter what the final score is – the Red Devils are experiencing woe. If Saint Louis University High beats the Smallville Strudel 31 to 27, the Junior Billiken pep squad dances the night away – but lots of quiet “woah”s are exchanged in the press box.

Such crazy results are rare in MSHSAA. Yet here is 2017, filled with surprise after surprise in the Show Me State. In Week 7, Jackson High School rolled over Cape Girardeau Central in an unexpected 63-21 blow-out. Valle Catholic was humiliated 55 to 7 by fellow small-school dynasty Lamar, and Rockwood Summit lost to a harmless Hazelwood East team 20-14 under friendly Fenton skies.

But the biggest shock of Friday night came in the St. Louis suburbs.

The Kirkwood Pioneers are officially in trouble, nearly falling to the Parkway South Patriots in a sloppy 27-23 win. Ryan Kraichely is out at QB, presumably injured. Cooper Wise, a junior, has taken over for the time being with Festus transfer Justice Johnson getting a least a few snaps per game.

Wise threw 2 interceptions on Friday. Parkway South runner Darrione Stewart was allowed 183 yards on just 12 carries, and the Pioneers trailed with 5 minutes to go.

Why is this a big deal? Parkway South is 2-5. The Patriots lost to Parkway West, a good-but-not-great Class 4 team, 22-12 to begin the season. When a defending 6A champion can’t push a middling opponent around, warning bells are a ‘clanging. KHS coach Farrell Shelton seems more focused on grooming Johnson and sophomore Jairus Maclin than fixing a defense gaping with holes.

Kirkwood vs Rockwood Summit this Friday would be looking a lot more interesting right now, if only the Falcons weren’t flying the wrong way. But Eureka and Lindbergh loom in District 1. The Pioneers will have to face one if not both powerhouses just 2-3 games into the postseason.

The Geek’s Week 8 River Rankings (District 1, All Classes)

#1 – Vianney Golden Griffiths (7-0)

Vianney 48, SLUH 7. The Griffiths have a date with Vashon on Saturday afternoon, which they could win by 100 points if they tried. But they ought to play frosh and sophomores for the entire 2nd half, because CBC lurks on the schedule in Week 9.

#2 – Eureka Wildcats (7-0)

The ‘Cats wiped out McCluer North early, and will head for a showdown with Lindbergh next weekend.

#3 – Lindbergh Flyers (7-0)

What changed? Fantastic early-season wins over Jackson, Hazelwood Central and Lafayette all in a row. Now, issues on defense. A formerly 6-0 (but flaky) Ritenour team piled up 550+ yards as the Flyers escaped by the flaps of their wings, 46-42.

But a victory at Eureka would clear the runway for takeoff.

#4 – Poplar Bluff Mules (7-0)

In a world where defense was forbidden…one school…dared to defy them all!

The Mules dogged Sikeston with an old-fashioned, ball-control 27-0 beat-down on Friday night. Poplar Bluff would be a legitimate 5A Show Me Bowl contender…if their District didn’t include Vianney High School.

#5 – Jackson Indians (5-2)

Despite shock in the visiting bleachers, Jackson’s 42-point victory over CHS was not a totally illogical outcome. Typical of 4A vs 5A rivalry games, it was close in the first 1 and 1/2 quarters before the deeper roster took over.

But that analysis leaves out why fans are excited. QB Cooper Callis is looking swell against good defenses, passing for 400+ yards and 5 TDs against the Tigers. The Indians have scored an amazing 40 touchdowns since falling to Lindbergh in Week 2.

#6 – Kirkwood Pioneers (5-1)

Friday brings another home game against a 2-5 team. We’ll see what happens at QB.

#7 – Lafayette Lancers (4-3)

The Lancers are starting to trend up again after a thrilling 27-25 triumph at Webster Groves. Junior Christiaan Masucci kicked 2 field goals, including a 42-yard game-winner with 2:22 to go.

#8 – Farmington Black Knights (4-3)

Yes, Cape Central beat Farmington 40-35 earlier this season. But Nathaniel Link and the Knights have had an impressive 2 weeks, whipping Sikeston 35-28 on the road and making the upstart Potosi Trojans look a gift horse in the mouth, 42-14.

#9 – Cape Central Tigers (4-3)

CHS is in danger of slipping to .500 when Chaminade comes calling this Friday.

#10 – Hillsboro Hawks (6-1)

The Blue & White struggled to close-out DeSoto High, winning 34-19 after a mildly tense 4th quarter. Bad juju or just a bad day? In either case, the Hawks will take a shot at a 5A power when they visit Poplar Bluff this week.

Out: Valle Catholic

Trending up: Park Hills Central, Malden

 

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