Montgomery Wildcats Gear Up for State Championship
He's had an 11-1 record and a berth in the state championship game Friday against the Cameron Dragons. With the first state championship game in program history, the Montgomery County Wildcats made a stop in Columbia Wednesday to practice on the Mizzou campus. The Wildcats have already overcome some tremendous hurdles in the playoffs, beating the past two state champions by a total of eight points.
"Just the whole team has been playing at one level throughout the playoffs no matter what happens high or low we've stayed at that level, and that's what's helped us get through all of our tough games," said Montgomery County wide receiver Ben Longstreet.
And the Wildcats say those close games could give them an advantage. "If it is a close ball game, our kids have been there before. They shouldn't be nervous about being in a close ball game. They shouldn't be nervous about being in a big ball game. They shouldn't be nervous about playing somebody that is probably picked by most people to win the game," said Head Coach Ben Blank. "Three times so far this year we've been there. That will help us at the end of the game if it's close...we'll know how to handle it."
The Wildcats await the undefeated Cameron Dragons who have blistered every opponent in the playoffs with an average margin of victory of almost 40. "We have to limit the big play. We can't let the 10 yard catch turn into a 40 yard gain. I know their starters haven't had to finish a game yet, so we just hope to battle with them a little bit and see how things end up. Plus their kids have been here before. They know what it's like to play in the dome. They know what it's like to play for a state championship."
Knowing the high powered attack from Cameron, Blank says his team will air it out in the passing-friendly dome. "We throw the ball rain, wind, sunshine, snow. It doesn't matter to us. I think I've got a pretty good quarterback, so I'm going to let the ball be in his hands 30 to 40 times a game, and let him decide where it needs to go," Blank said.
"It's going to be nice. Taking away all of the conditions. [The] atmosphere is going to be nice for both teams, and you're going to see both teams playing at their best, and both teams throw the ball a lot. It's going to be fun to watch," said quarterback Eric Czerniewski. And the community has rallied around the team: Traveling in full force to away games.
"The community is going nuts. So many people have gotten behind us and supported us and it's been great." With the remarkable run the wildcats have been on. Could the season still be considered a success with a loss? "Yeah, it's still a success. We're the first team from Montgomery County High School history to make it to the state championship game," said linebacker Trey Hoffman. Win or lose, this team has clawed their way into the Wildcats' record books.