Hillcrest High School football coach John Beckham said Monday his program might need a “special situation” to get through Webb City one of these days.
And with the Cardinals having 30 seniors this season and one of the best teams in coach John Roderique’s incredible tenure, this year’s circumstances were not in the Hornets’ favor.
Webb City earned its 42nd consecutive win Monday, knocking off Hillcrest 55-10 in the Class 4 District 4 final.
“They’ve got a special thing here, coaches and players,” Beckham said. “They earn everything they’ve got, and we’re going to have to go back and go to work, and hopefully be back here next year.”
Webb City (12-0) will play host Saturday to Sullivan (12-0) for a state quarterfinal game with hopes of wrapping up the three more wins needed to win the school’s third straight state championship. Webb City has won 10 titles in program history.
It didn’t take long for Webb City to get going, as Roderique’s son, quarterback John, took the second play from scrimmage 72 yards on an option keep to open the scoring.
“We were just going to have to execute the best we have so far because they have a great defense, a lot of speed,” said the younger Roderique, who rushed for 121 yards. “We had to run it right at them. We couldn’t go around them or outside or anything.”
Through or around, Webb City had success running the ball all night, as the Cardinals finished with 396 yards on 46 carries.
Senior running back Phoenix Johnson led Webb City with 163 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. Senior Cooper Smith, who had 61 yards, also had three touchdowns.
“It takes a little while for other teams to catch up to what we do because they haven’t seen it,” coach Roderique said. “And I thought our guys up front really made the difference in the ball game.”
Hillcrest senior quarterback Jonah Hill and the offense couldn’t get much going throughout, compiling just eight first downs and 182 yards of total offense.
Hill was a leader of a group of seniors who won two games on the freshman team three years ago before Hill moved to Springfield from Marshfield entering his junior season.
He was banged up by a hit to the head in the third quarter, only to return from injury. Recoveries like that and playing through pain have become a staple for the Arkansas State-bound player.
“That’s the kind of kid he is, and that’s what a football player should be,” Beckham said. “They’ve been part of two seasons with 10-plus wins, and that’s a huge accomplishment for Hillcrest. It’s not how you want to end it, but that’s how it is.”
Hillcrest shared the Ozark Conference championship this season, its second consecutive conference championship season.
But this year’s season ended just like the last one did, with a lopsided result against one of the nation’s top football programs. Hillcrest lost to Webb City 49-0 in last season’s Class 4 quarterfinal.
“We’ve accomplished a lot, but we’re not there yet,” Beckham said. “I think we’re going to be a top-10 team in the state of Missouri in Class 4, and that’s a huge accomplishment for us.
“Hopefully Webb City hasn’t seen the last of us, and we’ll just keep trying. Keep trying to get better.”