In the end, there can be only one.
Glendale’s first 11-win football season ended with a 52-22 loss to Ft. Zumwalt North in the Class 5 playoff quarterfinals Friday night at Lowe Stadium. The Falcons surrendered the first 24 points of the game in the first half, and their vaunted offense struggled to put up points on the Panthers’ defense.
Glendale (11-1) coach Mike Mauk acknowledged that an early loss of momentum was a critical factor in the loss.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get off to a very good start and didn’t make a couple of plays in key situations,” Mauk said. “You’ve got to commend (Ft. Zumwalt North), they had a great game plan, they did a tremendous job both on their offense and defense.”
Ft. Zumwalt North (11-1) senior quarterback and safety Cade Brister was a force on both sides of the ball. He had two interceptions that led directly to points and added a third interception at the end of the first half.
On offense, Brister rushed 27 times for 177 yards and five touchdowns. He was 6-of-9 passing for 67 yards.
Glendale entered Friday night’s game with an average margin of victory of 32.18 points in 11 games. Brister played a deep safety position in the 3-1-7 defense used to counter Glendale’s five-wide receiver offensive formations.
“This was a crazy game with a great team, give a lot of credit to them, their coach has done a really great job,” Brister said. “After watching film—the top passing team in the nation—we really wanted to get this one.”
The defense worked, and limited Glendale to six points in the first half. Brister said preparing to defend against Glendale is “totally opposite” a normal week of practice for the Panthers.
“Our preparation was key for us this week, for sure,” Brister said. “Our linebackers actually came with our DB’s this week and worked man coverage, getting hands on them. Our coaches did an outstanding job this week with that.”
In Mauk’s third year as the Glendale coach, the Falcons rattled off 11 consecutive wins before meeting their demise in the quarterfinals. The season featured an Ozark Conference championship and a Class 5 District 4 championship.
Mauk tried to comfort the players after the playoff loss.
“Disappointed is what they are tonight, I know they’re going to be very proud of what they achieved and what they accomplished,” Mauk said. “Our seniors were great leaders throughout the course of the year, so they set a standard for other teams to follow.”
The Panthers scored on all but two of the offensive possessions they had, including three touchdowns off turnovers.
“We really had a hard time slowing (Ft. Zumwalt North) down, let alone trying to stop them,” Mauk said.
Glendale quarterback Alex Huston was 33-of-52 passing for 348 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He finishes the season unofficially 398-of-567 for 6,138 yards, 76 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Senior wide receiver Jeremy Almeida had 10 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Von Oeser had 11 receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown, and Luke Montgomery added 72 yards on five receptions. Montgomery led Glendale in receiving with 86 receptions for 1,806 yards and 25 trips to the endzone.
Senior Spencer Wester had Glendale’s third touchdown on the third of his three receptions for 22 yards.
The 2016 Falcon’s 11-1 campaign marks just the seventh time ever that a Springfield Public Schools high school has won 11 games in a single season. The 2015 Kickapoo Chiefs are the only SPS team to win 12 games in a year.
Ft. Zumwalt North will play either Carthage or Battle in the Class 5 semifinals on Nov. 19. Carthage and Battle play in Columbia Saturday at 1 p.m.
High school football Class 5 playoff quarterfinal
Glendale, Ft. Zumwalt North
At Lowe Stadium, Glendale
Ft. Zumwalt North 17-14-14-7—52
Ft. Zumwalt North—Cade Brister 3-yard run (Matt Bennick kick)
Ft. Zumwalt North—Deiondre Stockton 14-yard run (Bennick kick)
Ft. Zumwalt North—Bennick 29-yard field goal
Ft. Zumwalt North—Brister 1-yard run (Bennick kick)
Glendale—Von Oeser 2-yard pass from Alex Huston (pass failed)
Ft. Zumwalt North—Brister 3-yard run (Bennick kick)
Ft. Zumwalt North—Jack Ederer 26-yard run (Brister run)
Glendale—Jeremy Almeida 13-yard pass from Huston (Nader Leali pass from Huston)
Ft. Zumwalt North—Brister 3-yard run (run failed)
Glendale—Spencer Wester 7-yard pass from Huston (Almeida pass from Huston)
Ft. Zumwalt North—Brister 2-yard run (Bennick kick)