ST. LOUIS, Mo.-- Football, particularly at the high school level, is often defined by distinguished triumphs and gut-wrenching defeats.
Maryville football suffered through the latter on a sunny afternoon in southwest St. Louis, falling to Trinity Catholic High School 36-14 in a MSHSAA Class 3 State tournament semifinal matchup Nov. 24.
The Spoofhounds (12-2) entered the game against Trinity (12-2) as an underdog for the second consecutive week. To make matters worse, sophomore starting quarterback Ben Walker and running back Korbin Koch were each unavailable due to injury.
In all, the adversity faced combined with the potency of Trinity Catholic’s athletic offensive attack proved too much for Maryville to handle. The Titans raced to a fast start against the ‘Hounds and never looked back, ending Maryville’s season and the high school careers of 15 seniors on the roster.
“When you’re at a place for a long enough time, you get to watch the guys grow up into a program,” coach Matt Webb said. “I remember most of those seniors when they were in middle school when I got here. You watch them grow up as kids and become young men. They really gave a lot of their lives to Spoofhound football.”
The game began as every football game does, with a coin toss. Maryville won the toss and elected to receive-- an uncharacteristic choice for the team.
The decision was assumedly made to give Maryville an opportunity to establish itself early and to put Trinity’s offense on its heels, but on the first play from scrimmage, it did the opposite. A fumbled snap was recovered by the Titans just seconds into the contest.
Trinity took the turnover in stride, scoring moments later on a 4-yard rush from running back Alphonoso Andrews. The score remained 6-0 for the duration of the first quarter.
Maryville tied the game in the second quarter on a Tate Oglesby quarterback run from 3-yards out, but minutes later, Trinity regained the lead due to a Maryville hold in the end zone, resulting in a safety.
From there, the Titans kept building, and the ‘Hounds season ticked away.
“We had a hard time getting a good start today,” Webb said. “We turned it over on the first drive and next thing you know, it’s 6-0. It’s one of those things (where) we just never could get anything going. I think that was a big momentum changer there in the second quarter.”
Maryville’s offense showed few signs of life throughout the game while the defense yielded to Trinity’s imposing offense. The Titans, a team with multiple Division I recruited players on both sides of the ball, dominated Maryville for a majority of the contest.
“(Trinity is) a very talented team,” Webb said. “You give this victory to them, you give credit to them. They beat us. They really took it to us.”
For most teams, a 12 win season and a trip to the semifinals would be the mark of a successful campaign. For Maryville, the ending seemed to come too soon, and with it came a feeling of disappointment.
“We played our hearts out,” senior running back Tyler Houchin said. “They beat us. I mean, they straight up beat us.”
Houchin is among the seniors whose high school careers ended a week earlier than desired. The group of 15, which includes running back Eli Dowis, defensive back Brenden Pedersen and offensive lineman Trevor Townsend, among others, racked up an extortionate amount of accolades over the last four years.
The seniors won a state championship a year ago and appeared in one the year before. They never lost a game in Maryville and rarely lost on the road, either. Still, their final season ended on a somber note in St. Louis.
“It’s sad,” Houchin said with tears in his eyes. “(I’ve been) growing up with these guys forever, even the coaches. I’ve been a ball boy here since I was in fifth grade, I was with the team and with the coaches and everything. To finally finish up is pretty sad.”
Over the course of four years, the senior class grew together. And over the course of 14 games this season, Maryville grew as one.
The Spoofhounds ran amok in the Midland Empire Conference from August into October, touting an impressive offense and strong defense for the duration of the season. They claimed blowout victories over teams like Chillicothe and Cameron, and they battled through close matchups against the likes of Savannah and Odessa.
In some ways, those wins and the season seems insignificant in the wake of defeat. For the first time in two years, the Spoofhounds will not make the trip to Faurot Field to compete for a state title. And for the first time in 14 weeks, they have no game to prepare for next week, just time to grieve over a dismaying end to an enthralling season.
“It’s a lot of hurt right now,” Webb said. “You don’t get this close and not feel a lot of hurt and sorrow. (There’s) a lot of tears being shed by kids that commit and give a lot of effort and a lot of time and commitment to a football program and a playoff race. So right now, there’s a lot of hurt. And I’m hurting just like the rest of them.”