Two powerful offenses were on display during the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 3 football championship game at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo., Dec. 1. But Trinity Catholic High School’s consistent drives were too much for Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory High School in a 45-19 victory for Trinity.
Trinity’s Reggie Love ran for 203 yards and a touchdown and Alphonzo Andrews added 78 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Marcus Washington had three catches for 104 yards, scoring a touchdown on each of quarterback Isaiah Williams’ completions to him.
Trinity coach Terrence Curry called it a “hard-fought game” between teams with skilled athletes. His team was behind early in the game but fought through it, he said, while executing the game plan. It entailed focusing on the running game, then supplementing with the pass. “When we ran, they couldn’t stop it,” Curry said, adding that when his team went to the air, Washington came through.
The team’s seniors were sophomores when Trinity played in the state finals and lost. Andrews talked about the hard work it took to get back to the state finals and said “to leave with it (the championship) feel great.”
Trinity receiver and cornerback Bryce Childress said that “we’ve dreamed about this all four years and as kids playing with each other and against each other. We had one goal, and that’s to win a state championship. I love this feeling, I love it.”
Williams said the players didn’t feel pressure. “We have the best coaches in St. Louis. That’s how I feel, to just do what they tell you to do.”
Cardinal Ritter’s Mel Morrow rushed for 82 yards. Quarterback Mekhi Hagens was 16 of 27 for 237 yards and threw for two touchdowns. Jameson Williams caught six passes for 140 yards and had an 86-yard touchdown on a kickoff return.
The game included 32 penalties for 296 yards. Tempers flared during the game, with a Cardinal Ritter player ejected, but afterward Cardinal Ritter head coach Brandon Gregory praised his opponent and welcomed a rematch next year.
Gregory cited the talents of Trinity’s Washington, who will play next year at the University of Texas, as a “catalyst” for his team. He also pointed to the talents of his players, especially Williams and Hagens.
The coach said he talked to his team after the game about the highs and lows they’ll experience in life. They will rebound from those just as they’ll rebound from the loss to Trinity, he said. He’s upset about the loss, too, Gregory said, but proud of his team.
Both teams moved up a class due to enrollment increases, and were placed in different districts on opposite sides of the playoff brackets. In football, it’s unusual for two teams from St. Louis to play each other, and this game is the first in recent memory between two archdiocesan high schools.
Cardinal Ritter scored first on an 18-yard pass from Hagens to Keavian Long. Trinity came back with a 33-yard touchdown catch by Washington. Ritter scored on the kickoff return, and Trinity answered with another 33-yard catch from Washington. Andrews then scored on a 1-yard run.
The second half began with another Washington-Williams combination resulting in a 38-yard touchdown. Andrews scored his second touchdown after a long run by Love. Trinity took control of the game from there.
Curry is in his first year and led Trinity to a 13-2 record. Trinity’s only losses came in the first two games of the season, to Colquitt County of Georgia and to East St. Louis in triple overtime. The team won in the semifinals against Maryville 36-14.
Gregory led his team to a 14-1 record. The team defeated Mt. Vernon 49-6 in the semifinal game.
The previous weekend, Christian Brothers College High School won the Class 6 title with a 45-21 win over Rockhurst of Kansas City. Bryan Bradford gained 230 years on 22 carries. Another senior, quarterback Brett Gabbert, threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns for his team’s second successive state title. Coach Scott Pingel’s team ended the year 12-1.