Westminster Christian Academy, Priory look for Halloween treats in Class 4 playoff games
By: Warren Mayes
The Westminster Christian Academy Wildcats and the Priory Rebels — both members of the Metro League — play in Class 4 District 3 semifinal football games away from home Wednesday.
No. 5-seeded Westminster (8-2) goes to face top-seeded Sullivan (10-0) while No. 3 Priory (8-2) journeys to No. 2. St. Clair (9-1). Both games have 7 p.m. kickoffs. Sullivan defeated eighth-seeded Pacific 66-14 while St. Clair got past Borgia 38-7.
The Wildcats are coming off a 28-0 win over Ladue at Parkway West while Priory got past Union 8-0 at Parkway North.
“It was a good win for our team,” Westminster coach Cory Snyder said about beating the No. 4 seed. “The guys played hard for 48 minutes. I felt like we were pretty evenly matched. They were a good football team with some good athletes but I thought that it would be a good game.”
Snyder said he did not expect a shutout. However, the Wildcats took control of the game from Ladue (6-4).
“We made some big plays early in the game and were able to capitalize on good field position,” Snyder said. “After that, we were able to control the football which really limited their offensive possessions.”
Westminster rushed for 230 yards to control the ball and the clock and added another yards passing. Defensively, the Wildcats picked off three passes in posted their third shutout this season and their second in the past three games. The interceptions were by Jacob Hicks, Tyler Catlett and Brett Bond, who also is the quarterback.
In the big win, there were several Westminster standouts.
“Kyle Kinner had two big touchdown catches and our offense churned out some good rushing yards,” Snyder said. “Defensively, Jesse Gruneisen had seven tackles, 2.5 for a loss, and a sack. Our defensive line also played well.”
Westminster went 2-8 in the past two seasons. Now, Snyder and his staff have engineered a turnaround that have the Wildcats playing into the postseason.
“The turnaround has been great,” Snyder said. “The biggest difference has been the leadership in the program and the character in the locker room. That kind of stuff effects winning as much as the quality of players that you have.”
To keep going into the playoffs, the Wildcats have tough chore that will be no treat on Halloween.
“Sullivan is a good football team,” Snyder said. “They play the game physically and with a lot of confidence. It will be a good challenge for our football team.”
Sullivan runs the ball “exceptionally well,” Snyder said. In addition, Sullivan also “play aggressively” on defense.
“They have a hard-nosed attitude and play the game physically,” Snyder said. “This game will be a test of our mental and physical toughness. Our kids will have to focus each play and do the little things every down in order to have a chance to win.”
Combs’ Rebels are on a good roll at the right time. Priory has won its last seven games. The game with Union, however, was no walk in the park.
“They played better defensively than they had played lately,” Combs said.
The only touchdown came when Patrick Agnew caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from David Nogalski.
“The scoring play was a run/pass option off our zone play,” Combs said. “Nogalski saw that we outnumbered them on the outside and threw the ball to Agnew. We got solid receiver blocking and Agnew made a nice play to get in the end zone.”
The Rebels added a safety in the third quarter to complete the scoring. Combs said he did not think the game would be that low scoring.
“No, but I am sure glad it was enough,” he said about his team’s point total. “Our defense played really well. They held Union to a net offense of less the 50 yards. And we made plays when we needed.”
Now it’s a road trip to play St. Clair to play the Bulldogs.
“They have a very good offense and an attacking defense,” Combs said. “Their quarterback (Kyle Juergens) will be one of the best we have faced so far. He does a good job of extending the play with his legs and has a big-time arm.”
Combs knows what he’s going to tell his club about the Bulldogs.
“We have to play sound defense and tackle well,” Combs said. “We have to get back to running the ball with purpose.We have to in the trenches, play disciplined defense and play snap to whistle each and every play.”