St. Vincent used offense, defense and special teams to control previously unbeaten Salisbury.
SALISBURY, Mo. -- St. Vincent's dominance of Salisbury both offensively and defensively was fairly evident throughout Monday night's Class 1 state quarterfinal game.
"We ran up against a better team tonight," Salisbury coach Jon Stock said after his team suffered its first loss of the year, a 19-0 decision. "They were athletically better. They're a versatile team. They can spread the offense or they can line up and power the ball at you, and that's kind of what I figured they'd do.
"They were able to sustain some drives and get points out of them, and we weren't able to sustain a drive long enough to get down there to try a field goal."
If the Panthers had ever inched close enough to St. Vincent's goal line -- they never moved within the 30-yard line -- to attempt a field goal, it would have been their first of the year.
On the other hand, St. Vincent demonstrated an edge in one more area Monday night -- the kicking game.
Kyle Kline hit two field goals and made a habit of driving his kickoffs inside the Salisbury 10-yard line, while punter Danny Rellergert averaged 34 yards on three punts.
"We emphasize the team game -- offense, defense and special teams," St. Vincent coach Keith Winkler said. "We work on special teams every day in practice. We worked on coverage because we knew that was one of their strengths."
Salisbury employed Jordan Green on its returns, and the speedy senior was able to get the ball beyond his 30 only once -- on a kickoff return after St. Vincent already led 19-0. Green had two decent punt returns wiped out by penalties.
Salisbury's average starting point for nine drives -- taking over from five kickoffs, three punts and a failed fourth down -- was the 24-yard line. The averaging starting point for St. Vincent on its nine drives was the 39-yard line.
The Indians didn't make a return on any of Salisbury's punts, allowing one to roll 45 yards.
But Rellergert still averaged better than Green, who averaged 30 yards on six punts.
"Danny has done a fantastic job for us," Winkler said of his first-year punter, who took over the job from graduated all-stater Zach Moll.
While St. Vincent was helped in the field-position battle by chewing up yardage on its drives, the Indians never allowed a big kick return that could have changed the momentum.
And Salisbury missed an opportunity early in the game to make a big play on the punt unit. Trailing 6-0 and facing fourth-and-11 at the St. Vincent 44 after one of their better drives, the Panthers lined up to punt and St. Vincent defended without a deep back to guard against the fake. With a chance to pin St. Vincent deep, Green's punt went off the side of his foot and curled out of bounds at the 33-yard line.
"I thought our punt team against their punt team was probably even," Stock said. "We hadn't attempted a field goal all year and they had, which probably gave them a slight edge.
"Their kickoffs were deep and with some height that allowed them to get down and cover."
* Stock was impressed with other aspects of St. Vincent's game, particularly the defensive front that limited Salisbury to minus-8 yards on the ground on 23 carries. Ten of Salisbury's rushing plays resulted in losses, including four sacks of quarterback A.J. Stock.
"Those three down linemen -- [Ben] Buchheit, [Waylon] Richardet and [Brian] Buchheit -- are tough," Stock said. "We knew they were good. They were tough.
"We think of ourselves as a defensive team and so do they. The team with the best defense was going to control the game."
Stock wasn't surprised St. Vincent was a bigger, more physical team.
"Most of the teams we play are bigger than us," said Stock, whose team still managed to average about 230 yards per game.
Leading rusher Scott Humphrey had 17 yards on his first two carries of the game but finished the night with 15 yards on nine carries.
* No penalties were called in the first half. St. Vincent was whistled twice for 20 yards, including one delay of game penalty taken intentionally late in the game. Salisbury was whistled three times for 30 yards, including two flags on kick returns that cost the team 50 yards in field position.
* According to mileage on mapquest.com, St. Vincent has traveled 220 miles to Shelbina for the sectional game against South Shelby, 250 miles to Salisbury and will venture a little more than 300 miles to Marionville on Saturday for the Class 1 semifinal game. The state championship game will be played at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, a distance of 85 miles from Perryville.