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Shorthanded Chrisman can't overcome Warriors' fast start

By Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner

Already facing a solid Smithville team, William Chrisman had a few bad plays Friday that gave the visiting Warriors early chances.

Smithville, which is in its third season in the Suburban Conference but has won at least eight games each of the previous six seasons, took full advantage of those chances and had victory well in hand in the second quarter, cruising to a 35-0 win in the teams’ first-ever meeting.

“It was one of those nights every bad thing that could happen, happened,” Chrisman coach Matt Perry said. “We didn’t just capitalize on anything. You can’t let good programs – that are disciplined like them – have that many opportunities and not do things right. We didn’t tackle well early. We had bad punts. We gave them short fields. Penalties. Sacks. It was all magnified. The defense played with their backs against the wall all game.”

Smithville used the hot hand of quarterback Andrew Hedgecorth to take an early lead. The sophomore gunslinger threw three first-half touchdowns, the first a 42-yard pass to Brett Foster on the first drive of the game.

The Bears (0-2) gained only four yards on its first three offensive plays and punted, but a bad snap led to a 16-yard loss. The punter fell on the ball but Smithville took over at the 13-yard line and needed only three plays to score.

Caleb Donnell’s 1-yard score made it 14-0 with less than 5 minutes off the clock.

Chrisman’s second drive was foiled by a false start on the first play and then a sack on quarterback Dayne Herl pushed the ball to the 7-yard line.

The Bears got this punt off but it went only 25 yards and Smithville took over at the Bears’ 32-yard line. It took eight plays to score, capped with Hedgecorth’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Sam Calvert.

The two connected for a 31-yard touchdown on the third play of the second quarter, making it 28-0.

That scoring drive for Smithville started at midfield after Chrisman went for it on 4th-and-1, but came up short.

“We got overwhelmed a little last week and got behind early,” Ambroson said. “We played, but not well enough to win and Grain Valley played really well. We wanted to come out and get a really good start. We talked about it all week about getting started early and taking away the life from them early. We played pretty well besides four possessions all night.”

There were a few positives for the Bears in the latter parts of the second quarter. The defense forced a turnover on downs by Smithville at the Chrisman 36-yard-line, marking the first drive the Warriors didn’t score.

Then, the offense got its initial first down of the contest, set up by Herl’s 8-yard pass to Sir’Rahn Felix. On the next play, Kameron Thompson ran for 3 yards to move the ball into Smithville territory.

Herl, who battled returning starter Osi Nauer for the quarterback job when practice commenced, started his second straight game. Nauer, who missed last week’s 42-17 loss to Winnetonka, tweeted on Thursday that he tore his ACL and would miss the rest of his senior season.

Perry noted there was hope that Nauer could’ve played last week.

“He’s not only a leader on offense, but a leader on defense,” Perry said of the quarterback/safety. “He’s a four-year starter. He’s a great kid. You can’t replace kids like that. It is tough and I think there was a little hangover from that, not a lot, but maybe hung their heads a little about the best player being hurt. They need to realize life goes on. The next man up, we got to be ready to go.”

Chrisman’s defense got a second straight stop in the final seconds of the half when Jayden Woods intercepted a pass in the end zone that would’ve given the Warriors a 35-0 lead.

The Warriors (1-1) turned the game into turbo-clock territory early in the third quarter when Donnell, set up by Keltin Nitsche’s punt return, scored from 12 yards out.

The 35-0 lead led to a fast-moving final two quarters, though the Bears showed some promise of getting on the board in the third quarter. Held to only one first down in the first half, Chrisman had three on one drive. Herl hit 6-foot-3 tight end Ralph Covington for a 15-yard gain on the third play of the drive. Herl added an 8-yard scamper that led to a first down and Thompson had two first downs in a row – but only one that counted.

Thompson had a 9-yard run but holding moved the ball back. Then, on the next play, Herl hit Thompson for a 15-yard gain and got the ball to the Smithville 32.

The drive ended on a turnover on downs at the Warriors’ 26-yard line. Chrisman only had the ball one more time the remainder of the contest.