Posted: Jul 16, 2014 9:48 AM
Updated: Sep 12, 2014 11:33 PM
|8 / 23||Nixa||Home||Win||27 - 2|
|8 / 30||Hannibal||Home||Win||52 - 14|
|9 / 6||Belleville Althoff||Away||Win||35 - 7|
|9 / 12||Hickman||Away||Win||48 - 7|
|9 / 20||Battle||Home|
|9 / 26||St. James Academy (KS)||Away|
|10 / 3||Rock Bridge||Away|
|10 / 10||Rockhurst||Home|
|10 / 17||Sullivan||Home|
|10 / 24||Districts|
It can be said that if you have a Ferrari, you don't let it just idle in the driveway. The Helias Crusaders are lot like that Ferrari and they believe in blowing the doors off, running wide open on the grid irons of Mid-Missouri. Coach Phil Pitts believes in playing all-comers and going full throttle in the process. That philosophy has brought a continued level of success at Helias that is almost unrivaled in the Show-Me state. The Crusaders capped off their 2013 campaign with their fourth trip to championship game in six years. Unfortunately, they were edged out by one of the only other programs who can boast a similar success in Webb City. But along the way the hammer-down play of Helias took down the likes of Class 6 powers Rock Bridge and CBC! They also cruised through Districts for the 7th season in a row, and set school records for yards gained and points. "We had a great season with big wins," stated Coach Pitts, "but for the 7th time in a row we lost to the eventual state champions."
Despite losing several key players from the 2013 squad, Coach Pitts and his assistants--- Andy Pitts, Chris Hentges, Ron Eickmeyer, Jeff Pickering, Brent Mettlen, Mark Orwdway, Jason Becker, Mike Cook, Brad Hake, Jordan Tobar, and Adam Mc- Morris---have all of the confidence that their 2014 model is just as potent as anything that they have had in recent history. "There are some people saying because we lost so many starters that next year we will be a little down," states Coach Pitts, "but I'm telling you right now at the end of the season we will be right there with a shot to win it all!" They have lots of players who have been biding their time and are now ready to take off.
A potent spread offense has been the cornerstone for Helias' success. They racked up 44 points per game last season and averaged over 400 yards per game in a very balanced attack. This year most of the skill spots will need to be filled by those who were in more of a supporting role last year. But the strength of the offense will be on the line. "We have good experience returning on the line and will lean on them," stated Coach Pitts. It features two senior, two year starters in Blake Wilbers (6-0, 225) and Brody Buschjost (6-1, 220), and fellow senior Dane Clutter (6-3, 205). Wilbers was named 1st team All-State; Buschjost earned 1st team All-District. Possibly the best player returning this season will be two-time All-State, senior Hale Hentges (6-5, 230) at tight end. Hentges has been named a 2014 Under Armour All-American, he's a 4-Star recruit, a Top 100 prospect, and has verbally committed to Alabama. Last season he brought in 61 passes for 900 yards and 14 TDs. An important addition to the line is junior Cole Johnson (6-2, 225), who "was a key sub last season, very strong and physical," according to Coach Pitts.
The skill spots (other than Hentges) will include junior quarterback Alex Faddoul (6-2, 197). According to Coach Pitts, "He is a very big, athletic QB who is already getting Division 1 interest, a real dual threat." Junior Malik Davis (5-10, 185) will take over the running back duties, sitting out last season after transferring from Jeff City. Clayton Winter (5-11, 205) added over 300 yards last season and should see more time this year. The receiving corps will include Chase Bexten (6-3, 200), a senior, and junior Alex Werner (5-9, 140), both good downfield threats. "We will have a great running threat," summarized Coach Pitts, "and when we pass it, we have the best TE in the country and an accurate QB."
The defense will also lean heavily on the experience of the line. "They will have to truly carry us," stated Coach Pitts. Last year's squad allowed just over 200 yards per game and only averaged 14 points. Blake Wilbers, Brody Buschjost, and Hale Hentges will be the go to guys on the line. Wilbers and Buschjost boast 78 and 73 tackles and a pair of sacks respectively, while Hentges added 29 tackles and five sacks. Cole Johnson will add his physicality to the line as well. The D-backs will be led by senior Todd Buschjost (5-11, 170). He was a 1st Team All-District performer with 104 tackles and 2 interceptions in 2013 and has several schools interested in his talents. Collin Lavery should be a nice addition at linebacker. He had 41 tackles and was a big asset on special teams last year. Clayton Winter will fill the other linebacking spot. Alex Werner is touted as the team's best cover corner as well. One of the biggest assets of the entire defense is their tenacity and aggressiveness, which is always good at getting that great first jump off of the ball.
Again, if the question arises about the experience, or lack of it, for this year's squad, Coach Pitts has a quick response. "This team has so many new players that have waited their turn and are ready to show what they have." Plus, "We have great top talent (Two 1st Team All-State guys and 3 Division I guys) that will always give a great shot in every game!" Coach Pitts gushed. So for anyone thinking that the Crusaders were thinking about more of a rebuilding season, no one in this program has any thoughts about that at all. "We will be prepared for another great post-season run," Coach Pitts concluded. Recent history should let every opponent believe that as well. This Ferrari is ready to run again.
Pigskin's Pick: 7-2