One thing that William Chrisman football coach Matthew Perry was confident about before the season was his defense.
It was hard not to be with 10 starters returning and a Division I recruit in Daniel Carson anchoring the defensive line.
The Bears showed why their defense had some hype before the season when they shutout crosstown rival Truman 20-0 to claim the Wagon Wheel Trophy for the second year in a row.
It was the first time Chrisman had shut out Truman since the inception of the trophy in 1989. The Patriots blanked the Bears five times in that span. Chrisman also shut out Truman for the first time since 1972, in rivalry that has lasted since 1965.
The Bears defense forced three turnovers, had six sacks and limited Truman to just 64 total yards. Linebacker Emori Thomas was a big part of that as he had two sacks and an interception.
“I have to give credit to (defensive coordinator) Willie Horn; our defense is good,” Perry said. “Our D-line is really physical and big. Our linebackers do a great job and I think Emori Thomas had about 25 tackles today.
“Emori Thomas is a football player. I love the kid to death. He just makes so many plays. You look at him you think he doesn’t impress you with the way he looks. But when he’s on the field, he goes 100 miles per hour and he’s always around the football. He’s what high school football is all about.”
Added Thomas: “It’s beautiful (to shut out Truman). And to do it during my senior year with the people I started with. It makes it even more sweet. Our defense is like a brotherhood. We’re together.”
The big defensive line made things extremely difficult for Truman, which only had one double-digit-yard run. There were a handful of times that the Patriots had trouble snapping the ball to quarterback Don Edmondson, who was sacked four times because of low or mishandled snaps.
“It takes a lot to move our defensive line and we get a good push up the middle,” Perry said.
Added Truman coach Charlie Pugh: “They are big up front, man. We couldn’t do anything with it.”
While Pugh said blocking the defensive line of Chrisman was a tough task, he felt like his own defense held its own as they limited the Bears offense to just 12 points.
“Our defense played outstanding,” Pugh said. “They were on the field the majority of the time. Offensively, we put them in some bad situations and they answered the bell. That’s what you are going to need down the road – a great defense.
“We had a chance. Offensively, we have to execute. We have to look at some things.”
Chrisman got things started late in the first quarter when quarterback Dawson Herl hit Kelvyn Mason on a 15-yard out that went for 21 yards and set it up at the Truman 4. Running back Bryan Cox followed that up by scoring on a 4-yard run off a right toss to make 6-0 after a blocked extra point at the 4:22 mark.
Two drives later, Chrisman had the ball at the Truman 2, but was unable to score. Truman managed to keep it out of the end zone for a turnover on downs when it stuffed running back Christian Felix at the 5.
On Truman’s ensuing possession, Mason tipped a Edmondson pass over the middle and Thomas made a diving interception to set up Chrisman at the Patriot 21. Herl later fired a 15-yard strike over the middle to Uriah Aleshire to put his team up 12-0 following a failed 2-point conversion attempt with 1:23 left in the second.
The Bears’ final score game at 5:39 mark in the third when Siaosi Nauer blocked a Truman punt and recovered it in the end zone for a score. Felix ran in a 2-point conversion to cap the scoring.
With the win, Chrisman evened the all-time series at 24-24.
“It’s awesome,” Perry said of bringing back the trophy to Chrisman. “It’s awesome for the Chrisman family and our kids and our students and our administration. They have all been working hard to make this school great.”
Felix led the Chrisman offense with 65 yards on 14 carries. Aleshire had 47 yards on eight carries and Cox added 35 yards on nine carries.
“We can’t play other teams like this in the second half, or we’re going to get beat,” said Felix, whose offense had no second-half points. “When it comes to good teams, we have to execute early. We were able to do that tonight.
“I feel like our core with the running game is with our speed backs Bryan Cox and Uriah. Then you have me as the downhill runner, and that’s a good combination because you have a lot of weapons.”