JEFFERSON CITY- Helias Catholic (11-0) has only played one opponent within 10 points this season heading into its state quarterfinal game with West Plains Friday night, but head coach Chris Hentges knows how easy things can fall apart.
"We kind of got that feeling like we are the Buffalo Bills of High School Football," Hentges said.
The Crusaders lost back-to-back class four state championship games from 2008 to 2009 and 2012 to 2013. They were 14-0 before losing to Kearney in 2009. Hentges was the head coach for two of the defeats, but he said the past won't change his message to the team.
"It really just comes down to hard work and preparation, and I really like what this year's team is doing," Hentges said. "Hopefully this is the year that we put it all together."
Quarterback Jacob Weaver may have been what those state runner up teams were missing. The third-year starter has got it done through the air and on the ground, racking up 24 touchdowns to only four interceptions and approaching 1000 yards rushing this season. Hentges said having Weaver at quarterback is like having 12 players on the field.
"It makes our offense hard to defend because if you have to account for a quarterback as part of your run scheme, it puts you down a man," Hentges said.
At 11-0, the Crusaders have met little resistance this season. Hentges said the way his team handled COVID-19 in the offseason gave them an edge before games even started being played.
"I think some teams didn't handle it very well. I think my boys did," Hentges said.
Hentges had to email workouts to his players over the summer who sent videos back to show their progress. He said the team stayed focus through the entire process.
"We were ready to hit the ground running maybe more so than the teams we played, and I think that was an advantage for us," Hentges said.
The Crusaders host West Plains Friday at 7 p.m. to decide who moves on to the state semifinals.