CBC coach Scott Pingel had to make some adjustments to getting his Cadets ready for the Class 6 state high school football championship game.
It was a tough week for the St. Louis region with the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on any charges related to the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. The riots that followed left Pingel with a sticky situation.
“The footballl is secondary to what’s going on,” Pingel said on Thanksgiving (Nov. 27). “Football was on the back burner.”
School was called off Tuesday, a day before the holiday break.
“We let the kids know what is important,” Pingel said. “I just talked and the players and coaches talked. They wanted to be together. We wanted to let the kids express themselves. The lines of communication were open.
“We were pro-active here. We talked to the boys individually. We had a team meeting. They were all aware of the situation and the gravity of the situation.”
Pingel has some athletes on the team from the Ferguson area.
“We’ve had two great days of practice,” Pingel said. “I think we are back to normal now. We’re ready to play on Saturday. We are a tight-knit group.”
Practicing on Thanksgiving was fun.
“Without a doubt, we had a great practice. A Thanksgiving Day practice is special. It was a neat atmosphere. The guys are ready for the next step.”
That would be a trip from West County to the Edward Jones Done. The undefeated Cadets (13-0) will meet Kansas City Rockhurst (12-1) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Rockhust is a state power. The Hawklets have eight state championships, trailing only Jefferson City’s 10 state titles.
Rockhurst won last a state crown in 2010, a 10-7 win over Hazelwood Central. Coach Tony Severino in eight years at the helm is 74-12-0.
CBC has yet to win a football championship. Pingel will be making his third trip to the state championship. The Cadets lost 40-37 to Blue Springs South in 2011. CBC was 13-0 heading into the game.
Pingel was the offensive coordinator to coach Bob Shannon in 2006 when CBC lost 41-7 to Blue Springs South.
“I think a state championship will a lot to the alumni and to the school,” Pingel said. “This is agreat group of kids. It would mean a lot to them to win it. It would mean a lot to me, too. I mean, we all want to win. Rockhurst wants to win, too.”
The Cadets reached the quarterfinals last season. Pingel has a total of 10 starters back this year.
Pingel liked what he saw back in August with this squad.
“We don’t have that one dynamite player for team to lean on, so to be good, team we will have to play every down as a team,” Pingel said. “We always talk about how each player is accountable. We want each player to be a brick so we can stack on each each other. We want to be able to count on each other at all times.”
The Cadets have been off for two weeks after defeating Kirkwood 55-10 in the semifinals on Nov. 14.
The time off has been helpful, Pingel said.
“They’re back to focused on football and ready to play,” Pingel said. “I think the two-week layoff has helped us get healthy, The kids are ready to play.”
The Cadets have been balanced on offense this season.
Senior Calen Taylor has rushed for 1,060 yards and Tre Bryan has added 1,034. Each has scored 21 touchdowns.
“Those two have had great years and put up great numbers,” Pingel said. “They feed off each other. They love to block. They are team-first guys.
Junior quarterback Blake Charlton has thrown for 1,529 yards and 18 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
“Blake has done a great job in the leadership role,” Pingel said. “This will be his 18th game as a starter and he understands what we’re asking of him.”
Receivers Lamar Anderson, a junior, and Mike Millon, a senior, have 53 and 42 catches respectively.
“Those guys are good on the outside for us,” Pingel said. “Mike is one of those guys who can catch and then run well. Lamar can catch anything. Both are really good at getting yards after the catch.”
Defensively, the Cadets have been stout. In just four games has CBC allowed double digets scoring and just two over 20 points.
Seniors Quintin Wynne and Kevin Williams anchor the defensive line.
“They have done a nice job up front,” Pingel said. “The disrupt the offense really well.”
Linebackers Mike Jones, a senior, and Clayton Stallings, a junior, work on the edges for the defense to keep things contained.
In the secondary, seniors Damion Baker, Shawn Boyd and junior Rashon Davis lead the unit.
But, Pingel noted, it has taken the entire team to produce the undefeated season and help reach the state title game.
“I like the idea of having no superstars,” Pingel said. “Everyone has a role and everybody understands their hrole. It’s a good team. When one has success, they’re happy for him. No one is jealous of each other.
“This is my seventh year and I’m excited to see this team buy into what we like and to play as one. I like their personality. It’s a fun group. Each kid is a different person but on the field, there’s a single mindset.”
Rockhust will be a tough foe. Pingel has never coached against the Hawklets.
However, while CBC has rolled through the season unscathed, Pingel said his team has been tested and will be ready for Rockhurst.
“We were only up 12-0 at Jefferson City and we went on to win that game,” Pingel said. “We were down 13-3 to Rock Bridge but we had a great second half to win that game. I know the scores against Hazelwood Central and Kirkwood were big but those were good teams.”
To win its first state title, Pingel said he will take what he learned from Shannon and apply it to the game.
“Bob Shanon said to play and win playoff football, you have to run and stop the run,” Pingel said. “We’ve had success doing that this year. Rockhurst can take away both of those aspects of the game. They’re very good at what they do.”
It’s been a while since a St. Louis school won the state title in Class 6.
“We’d like to do something special for this side of the state,” Pingel said. “I sure hope so. We want to win. They plan on winning so we’ll see.”