Knox County Football Season Ends In Regional
By David Sharp
South Shelby employed a relentless rushing attack, led by Shawn Bertrand’s 218 yard two score effort in a 39-8 Cardinal win. South Shelby improved to 7-4 on the season.
Knox County scored their lone touchdown when senior Leighton McCabe hauled in an 18 yard pass from Donovan Edwards with 2:10 to play in the game.
The Eagles drove the football inside the South Shelby 20 yard line three times in the first half, only to lose a fumble and be turned away by a determined Cardinal defense twice.
Knox County seniors Leighton McCabe, Jesse Miller, Jon Harder, Dakotta Hagar, Colebie Murry, Justin Rudd, Brendon Howdeshell, Will Minear and Sharri Edwards played their final football games for the Eagles.
Senior football cheerleaders Laura Clark, Cassidy Kirmse and Shelby Oldfather finished their high school football sideline careers.
“I think our offensive line is coming together at the right time,” South Shelby coach Rob Wilt said. “We have three freshmen starting. We are starting to jell and it’s paying off in the playoffs.”
Hadley Roberts recorded a quarterback sack to stall a Knox County drive in the final two minutes of the first half. Roberts was one of three South Shelby freshmen pressed into service largely due to injuries.
Hadley’s grandfather is basketball Hall Of Fame coach Kenny Roberts.
The Cardinals were 2-4 earlier in the season and now ride a five game win streak into the Sectional playoff round with Louisiana. The Bulldogs beat Scotland County by a 29-20 final score at Memphis.
Long time Scotland County football coach Brent Bondurant announced his retirement from coaching after the Regional playoff match.
South Shelby was able to open holes for their runners on a fairly consistent basis. The Cardinals marched 53 yards in eight plays for a Shawn Bertrand touchdown with 8:10 remaining in the first quarter. Hadley Roberts kicked the point after touchdown for a seven point edge.
Teams have tried on side kicks against Knox County ever since Highland recovered an on side kick in the first game of the season.
The Eagles have gobbled up every one until Alex Durbin pounced on the ensuing kickoff.
South Shelby had great field position on the Eagle 46 yard line. Cardinal quarterback David Heathman was able to draw Knox County off side on a fourth down and one play.
Austin Hall cashed in the opportunity with a 24 yard touchdown pass from David Heathman with 6:34 to play in the first quarter. Hadley Roberts kicked the extra point for a 14-0 South Shelby lead.
Knox County took possession on their 27 yard line with 6:29 remaining in the first period. The Eagles mounted a methodical drive down the field against one of Northeast Missouri’s traditional football powers.
Leighton McCabe dashed to the Cardinal 24 yard line with 4:46 showing on the clock. The Eagles faced a fourth down and 11 yards to go dilemma on the South Shelby 11 yard line.
An incomplete pass turned the football over on downs. Shawn Bertrand dashed 19 yards out of the hole. Colton Danger recovered a South Shelby fumble on the Eagle 49 yard line.
Leighton McCabe dashed 42 yards putting the Eagles into the red zone again. South Shelby had a late hit penalty tacked on to the end of the run. Knox County lost a fumble on the Cardinal 12 yard line.
Austin Hall made the play of the game when he dashed 89 yards for a South Shelby touchdown with 10:58 to play in the second quarter. Hadley Roberts kicked the extra point, making the score 21-0.
Knox County took possession on their 27 yard line near the start of the second quarter. The Eagles set forth on another drive to the South Shelby 29.
The underdogs moved the football inside the Cardinal five. Knox County faced a fourth down and goal on the six inch line.
South Shelby was able to win the battle, stopping Donovan Edwards on a quarterback sneak with 3:37 remaining in the first half.
Knox County stopped South Shelby on the ensuing possession. Shawn Bertrand had a 15 yard first down run called back by penalty.
The Cardinals amassed 75 yards in penalties with 2:11 to play in the first half.
South Shelby was flagged 12 times for an unofficial 120 yards on the night. Hadley Roberts sacked Donovan Edwards, stalling a late drive.
South Shelby led 21-0 at intermission. The Cardinals held a slim 11-10 lead in first downs at the half. The home team out gained Knox County 260 to 135 yards rushing and held an 85-29 yard passing lead. Each team turned the football over once in the first half.
South Shelby stopped the Eagles, forcing a punt on the first second half series of downs. Andrew Delana made a clutch six yard catch on fourth down keeping what turned out to be a 70 yard scoring drive alive.
Shawn Bertrand ran the football to the Eagle nine yard line. Bertrand scored from one yard out making the score 27-0.
Jared Barnard blocked the extra point for a 27-0 Cardinal lead with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Knox County played the second half without leading tackler Jon Harder due to injury. Brody Moubry was unable to play most of the second half with what turned out to be a broken collarbone. Moubry rushed 11 times for 56 first half yards.
Jon Harder had 12 tackles in the first half. Harder finished with 107 tackles on the season, five for loss. Jon Harder forced and recovered three fumbles on the season.
Jared Barnard raced 12 yards on the next series of downs. South Shelby stopped the Eagles near the end of the third quarter on the KCHS 30. Shawn Bertrand ran the football to the two yard line.
South Shelby quarterback David Heathman executed a naked bootleg for a Cardinal touchdown on the third period’s final play. The kick failed, leaving the score at 33-0.
Rain plagued most Northeast Missouri Regional football games held November 2, 2011. The weather held off until the start of the fourth quarter. Knox County drove the football to the Knox County 43 yard line. South Shelby took over on downs with ten minutes to play.
South Shelby put the football in the hands of freshman Trace Windsor, the son of long time area football coach Deacon Windsor. Trace Windsor capped a 43 yard drive with a one yard run at the 6:06 mark of the fourth quarter.
Knox County played hard to the final gun. Jared Barnard blocked his third extra point of the season, keeping the margin at 39-0.
The Eagles took possession on the KC 41 yard line with 5:41 to play in their 2011 football season. Knox County showed the grit they have displayed all year in the face of one adverse situation after another.
Donovan Edwards laid a nice pass to the corner of the end zone for an 18 yard touchdown pass to Leighton McCabe at the 2:10 mark of the fourth quarter. Edwards will carry the retired number ten of Terry Joyce to the 2013 football season as one of three quarterbacks on the roster.
Knox County forced the Cardinal JV offense to punt. Knox County coach Alex VanDelft removed his eight seniors from the game as a group with 21 seconds to play in the game.
A large group of Eagle fans gave their seniors a well deserved standing ovation. Knox County finished their 2011 season with a 5-6 overall record. South Shelby won the contest by a 39-8 final score.
South Shelby rushed 44 times for 378 yards according to their official stats. Shawn Bertrand rushed 24 times for 218 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Hall carried eight times for 123 yards and two scores. The Cardinals gained 19 first downs on the night.
David Heathman was 4-8 passing for 64 yards and a Cardinal touchdown. Andrew Delana led South Shelby with two catches for 44 yards. “We have to clean up our penalties. I thought our offensive line controlled their defensive line,” Rob Wilt said.
“We can be pretty effective when we can do that. I thought our offensive line controlling their defensive line was the difference in the game,” Rob Wilt said.
Knox County rushed 36 times for 182 yards. Leighton McCabe led the Eagles with a 16 carry 107 yard night on the ground. Brody Moubry ran 12 times for 54 yards. Jared Barnard had three rushing attempts for 12 yards.
Donovan Edwards was limited to four carries for a net of six yards. Colton Danger had a three yard run. The Eagles had 14 first downs.
Donovan Edwards continued to show improvement as a passer, going 7-15 for 61 yards. Jared Barnard led the Eagles in receiving with two receptions for 22 yards. The Eagles had five penalties for 30 yards.
The Eagles averaged 207 yards per game rushing and 48.6 yards per game passing. Knox County passed for seven touchdowns and rushed for 20 more. Knox County averaged 24 points per game on the season. Opposing teams averaged 24.1 points per game.
Knox County caused 31 turnovers defensively while turning the football over 23 times; Jon Harder may have set a state record blocking six kicks on the season. Jared Barnard had three blocked kicks on the year.
Alex VanDelft led Knox County to the playoffs in his second year at the helm. “South Shelby has been doing what South Shelby does for as long as I can remember,” Former Clarence Cannon Conference standout Alex Van Delft said.
“Their line did a great job blocking. Their fullback did a great job leading up on our linebackers. They put us in a position where if one guy did not make the tackle, they were going to run for a long way,” Coach VanDelft said.
“That happened too many times tonight. We have been pretty good getting the ball in from the red zone lately,” VanDelft said. “Tonight we just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had.”
“If we put those (three chances inside the Cardinal 20 yard line) in, it is a close ball game going into the half. We get the ball back in the second half, and maybe it’s a different story,” Alex VanDelft said.
“That’s not the way this played out. The kids played hard. They made a great effort tonight,” Coach VanDelft said.
“Our seniors are a great bunch of kids. We had four that decided to come out and play football their senior year.”
“I have all the respect in the world for them. Some of them probably didn’t get the playing time they wanted. They just wanted to see what football is like. We had some contributors from that group.”
“Colebie Murry is one that jumps to mind. He didn’t really understand how football worked with all the bumps and bruises and hard work,” the former Macon HS and Truman State University football player said.
“By the end of the year I think he loved it. This shows the younger guys what they are missing out on if they don’t take advantage of their opportunities and come out.”
Sharri Edwards led the Eagles in receiving with seven catches for 217 yards. Four of those receptions resulted in touchdowns. Sharri Edwards had 20 tackles and three interceptions despite playing in only six games, largely due to a knee injury.
“Leighton McCabe was definitely a leader on the team. He put us in the right place at the right time,” Alex VanDelft said. “He was a great playmaker. He made me look like a good coach on multiple occasions. Leighton is a great player. I’m sure he will do well on Saturdays.”
Leighton McCabe stepped up and took the quarterbacking role when the team had no one else to turn to. McCabe rushed 141 times for 1116 yards and eight total touchdowns.
The next leading Eagle runner on the season was Donovan Edwards with 105 carries for 355 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Donovan Edwards had three touchdown passes and Leighton McCabe five TD tosses on the year.
Brody Moubry had a nice freshman year with 56 rushing attempts for 324 yards and three touchdowns.
“Jon Harder didn’t go out the way he wanted, not getting to play in the second half,” Alex VanDelft said. “His career has been stellar all the way through. I’ve had him for two years. He is just the guy you can depend on, getting it done on every play, every snap.”
“He was going to go hard and give you full effort,” Alex VanDelft said of senior Jon Harder. “I’m sure proud of the hard work he put in. This group of kids had to fight something all the way through.”
“Injuries to key spots, people quitting, it just didn’t matter,” Coach VanDelft said. “They didn’t care. They were going to put their nose down and get back to work. We had a couple of starters quit.”
“We threw freshmen Riley Poston and Austin Haines out there. They did an outstanding job. Those are two people we are going to depend on in the future.”
“This was a great group of kids,” Alex VanDelft said. “We had a great group of seniors. I am definitely going to miss them. We did a lot together as a team.”
“We are getting Knox County on the right track to improve every year. We want to leave the team in a better place than when we got here.”