All things 'clicking' for Chrisman in district football opener

By Michael Smith
The Examiner

The 2020 season has been a rough one for the William Chrisman football team as it lost its starting quarterback Osi Nauer at the beginning of the season.

That led to a 1-8 record, with the only win coming against crosstown rival Truman. Chrisman’s eight losses came at an average margin of nearly 25 points per game. However, with Class 5 District 7 play starting Friday, it was a new beginning for the Bears.

And they responded with their best game of the season as Chrisman scored 35 unanswered points to roll past Ruskin 49-12 on the road.

“We had some things really clicking on offense,” Bears head coach Matthew Perry said. “It is a testament to our kids. They are really unselfish. They really want to see each other do well.

“I saw a thing from (New England Patriots head coach) Bill Belichick today – he said ‘If you can’t be happy with your teammates doing well, you are not a very good teammate.’ The kids are sharing the wealth.”

Five different Bears scored at least one touchdown. Sophomore running back Anthony Miller II backed up his big performance last week against Fort Osage with 198 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Junior running back Kameron Thompson added 115 yards on 11 carries and two scores of his own.

“We had good execution and good blocking,” Miller said. “I was able to hit the holes, score and make big plays happen.”

Fullback Mason Walters, who had 71 yards on 12 carries, and wide receiver D’Mauri Franklin also got in on the action with rushing touchdowns of their own as the Bears found success no matter who carried the ball.

“It starts in practice. The intensity has been up,” Thompson said. “We are focusing and executing better than we have all year.

“We just started (a three-man running back rotation) the last couple weeks. We realized we have a lot of playmakers and guys with speed. We figured, the more guys that get touches, we can keep everyone fresh and keep the defense guessing.”

The game was close in the first half as Ruskin’s E’Montae Silas returned the opening kick off to the Chrisman 14, setting up quarterback William Sanders’ 3-yard TD run to make it 6-0 after a missed point-after try at the 10:43 mark in the first quarter.

Chrisman (2-8) responded on its next drive. Thompson capped it with a 5-yard scoring run on a left sweep. Mitchell Cory made the extra point to put the Bears ahead with 4:01 left in the first.

The Bears failed to take advantage of a fumble recovery, turning over the ball on downs after recovering the ball at the Ruskin 25.

However the next time they got the ball, they did not disappoint. Miller’s 37-yard jaunt set up Walters’ 3-yard rushing score to make it 14-6.

Ruskin later scored with 1:23 left in the first half when Kamarion Shirley took it in from 8 yards out to cut Chrisman’s lead to 14-12 after a failed 2-point conversion.

Chrisman had a chance to increase the lead with 6 seconds left, but the Eagles stuffed a Walters rushing attempt from the Ruskin 1, to keep the halftime deficit at two.

In the second half, it was all Bears as Miller scored on runs of 36 and 27 yards; Thompson ran one in from 36 yards out; Franklin scored on a 31-yard run; and quarterback Dayne Herl found wide receiver Sir’Rahn Felix in the end zone for a 7-yard TD pass.

On defense, the Bears stepped up in the second half as well, holding Ruskin (2-7) to 124 yards in the final 24 minutes, which included an interception from junior Cole McClain and a sack from freshman Lance Nauer.

Chrisman (2-8) will head into the semifinals of districts with a little bit of momentum as it takes on Suburban Middle Six Conference foe Grain Valley, which defeated the Bears 53-22 earlier in the season.

“They’re a tough one,” Perry said of Grain Valley (8-1). “We have to improve a lot of things to compete with them. It’s going to be a big challenge to compete with them. But who knows? We could shock the world.”