By MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
COLUMBIA, MO- The East Buchanan football team accomplished a feat that hasn't been done in almost a decade by a public school in Class 1, repeated as state champions.
The last time a public school in Class 1 won back-to-back championships was 2007-08, when Orrick completed the hard task. But East Buchanan put on a clinic, defeating Adrian 42-0 on a chilly Saturday evening at Faurot Field on the campus of the University of Missouri, clinching the title.
East Buchanan Head Coach Dan Ritter says this championship doesn't feel much different from last years, in fact, he says it almost feels like deja vu.
"You know, the same team, same weather, same experience, but the way we were able to handle ourselves, have confidence going in knowing we've done it before, it did feel a whole lot different," Ritter tells reporters in a postgame press conference. "There was a whole lot less nerves at least for me, and then you could see it on the players, they had confidence going into this game, and that's something you really like to see as a coach when you know your players are coming in ready to go."
After Junior quarterback Gage Busby threw an interception on the first drive of the game, possession went back and forth until the third drive of game for the Bulldogs, when Junior running back Trevor Klein broke free up the middle for a 42-yard touchdown run, scoring the first touchdown of the game with 3:24 left in the first quarter.
Busby says after throwing that interception on the first drive, it was words from assistant coach Colby Rapp that helped him turn the tide around, telling Busby to go out and get control of the huddle.
"We're doing the right things, we just weren't executing, and I got to step up and be a leader for my team," Busby says. "And I just got to go out there and continue to let my guys make plays."
East Buchanan would put up three more scores in the second quarter, the first coming after their longest drive of the game, a 12 play 74-yard drive that consumed almost five minutes of clock, ending with a Klein one yard touchdown run.
Busby would find Junior wide receiver Aidan Hensley for 35-yard touchdown to extend lead to 21-0, and then at the end of the quarter, with 20 seconds left, Klein would score his third touchdown of the day rushing in from two yards out. East Buchanan led at halftime 28-0.
Busby would go on to throw two more touchdowns in the third quarter, a 41-yard score to Klein and an 82-yard touchdown pass to Senior wide receiver Adam Stephen Engnes, pushing the lead to 42-0, which would push the game to running clock until the end as the Bulldogs hoisted the trophy again.
The East Buchanan defense was clicking on all cylinders once more, the Bulldogs forced three interceptions on the day. Senior linebacker Rylee Parker led with seven tackles while Senior defensive tackle Ethan Bailey and Klein each had one sack. Hensley hauled in two interceptions on the game, his final one ultimately sealing the game, while Klein picked Adrian off once.
On offense Klein had 221 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. Busby threw for 312 yards on 14 of 19 passing and threw three touchdowns and one interception. His leading receiver was Stephen Engnes with four catches for 143 yards and one touchdown.
For many of the Bulldog juniors, winning a championship has been a dream a long time coming, Junior offensive and defensive lineman Barrett Veatch says many of them have talked about it since first grade
"Every game that we played we took serious, even if it was youth," Veatch says. "We talked about it whenever we were little how awesome it would be to go to state, but we never really talked about going to state two times, so it means the world to us, the community, and everybody."
East Buchanan finishes the season 14-1, bringing home just the second football state championship in school history. The Bulldogs will be without eight seniors next year, but bring back 16 juniors, which includes both Trevor and Nick Klein, Busby, Hensley, Veatch, Chase Meers, and Wyatt Parker among others, all with two years of championship experience.