CBC's refusal to give up brings state championship

Sid Hastings

A strong pass rush and an offense that refused to give up led Christian Brothers High School to its first state football championship Nov. 29 in a back-and-forth 31-24 win over Rockhurst.

The win capped a 14-0 season for CBC. Afterward, CBC's senior safety Eric Carrera, who had nine solo tackles and assisted on four others while breaking up a pass play, said he was overwhelmed. Teammate Blake Charlton, a junior quarterback who completed 17 of 22 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns, said he was nearly speechless.

"We had this stigma that we can't get it done," CBC coach Scott Pingel said of the team which finished second in 2006 and 2011. "It's a great win for the school."

The players knew the game wasn't over when they were behind by a touchdown late in the game, he said, because they know how to handle adversity even though they had several one-sided wins during the season.

Carrera pointed to the effect of the CBC fans who took up most of one side of the lower part of the Edward Jones Dome in Downtown St. Louis, where the Missouri State High School Activities Association Show-Me Bowl games were played in six divisions. "The loud crowd chanting for you helps you get motivated. It really did help out, especially on defense," he said.

CBC took the opening drive from the 35-yard line to score on a 3-yard pass to Million across the center of the end zone. The drive was kept alive on two third-down plays and a fourth-and-one on the 9-yard line, when Calen Tayor ran the ball for a first down.

Rockhurst’s first series went nowhere as the CBC defense drove Rockhurst back 13 yards with the first of three sacks by Clay Stalling. Million took the punt to the Rockhurst 29-yard line on a return of 18 yards. Taylor made a couple good runs before a couple incomplete passes and CBC settled for a 25-yard field goal by Calob Meinzer.

Rockhurst kept its next drive alive, making a first down on a fourth-and-one at midfield. Then Lance Boehm caught a pass across the middle for 32 yards and another catch for 10 yards on third down. Green ran three yards for a touchdown after rolling out to make a pass on third down.

Rockhurst’s defense came alive on the next series, stopping CBC cold. On offense, Rockhurst was propelled after running plays by Kiah Kintchen and Ammon Taylor. A Michael Jones’ sack and a false start penalty nearly knocked out Rockhurst, but Green completed a 14-yard pass play to Kintchen to keep its drive alive. Jones got another of his three sacks to force a field goal, which tied the game at 10-10.

CBC came right back with a touchdown thanks to a run by Tre Bryant on third down, a 27-yard pass to Curtis and a 21-yard touchdown pass to Million with about a minute and a half remaining in the first half. CBC gained good field position but missed on a 43-yard field goal attempt.

Rockhurst missed on a 48-yard field goal attempt to open the second half. After a sack, Rockhurst blocked CBC’s punt attempt, getting the ball on the 14-yard line. Green rolled out, evaded a tackle and completed a 7-yard pass to Nicholas Bosma in the end zone for a touchdown tying the game once again.

Rockhurst came back again the next series with a 52-yard pass to Boehm to take a 24-17 lead. But CBC’s offense refused to give in, with Charlton connecting on a 66-yard pass to Million and Taylor running two yards for a touchdown. The extra point tied the game just before the end of the third quarter.

CBC made a big stop on defense to open the last quarter, with two sacks of Green. After pounding the ball downfield with several running plays and a 21-yard pass to Taylor, CBC scored on an 11-yard pass from Charlton to Curtis.

Another big sack came late in the game when Rockhurst had a third down on the 42-yard line with 8 yards to go and Stalling rushed in and brought Green to the ground. Rockhurst failed to convert on the next play and Charlton helped his team run out the clock with a 10-yard run on third down with 2 minutes left in the game.

The game plan was to disrupt Green, son of St. John Vianney alum and NFL quarterback Trent Green, Pingel said. Green completed 13 of 24 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He said he struggled with the pressure brought by CBC's defense and their ability to keep him from escaping the pocket.

The strategy on offense focused on getting a first down on the first series of each drive, CBC's coach said. Though he singled out Charlton and receivers Million and Curtis, Pingel said the key to his team was how his players responded to the concept of putting the team first.

"They've got some great skill," Rockhurst coach Tony Severino said of his opponent. "They haven't been pushed to the limit (until this game), and we feel good about that,"

CBC dominated its season, accumulating six shutouts, including two during the state playoffs. The team scored more than 40 points in each game until the championship game and scored 50 or more seven times. Its closest game was the last game of the regular season when the team defeated Rock Bridge of Columbia in an away game 40-26.

The playoff wins came against De Smet Jesuit, Francis Howell North, Hazelwood Central and Kirkwood. That game was a 55-10 win in the semifinals.

Pingel, a graduate of St. Vincent High School in Perryville, has a 69-16 record at CBC in his 10 years as head coach. He praised Severino, who has compiled a 305-72 record at the Rockhurst and has nine state titles. "They're very similar to us," Pingel said. "They have a lot of good ballplayers who make up a great team. ... They kept bouncing back, and we kept bouncing back, too."

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