Believe it: Chaffee clinches football playoff berth
Sunday, October 24, 2010
CHAFFEE, Mo. -- Strange things can happen under a full moon.
In Friday night's game at Chaffee High School, punts were blocked, long offensive plays were the norm and an extra point clanged off an upright for good measure.
Oh, and one other thing -- the Red Devils qualified for the state football playoffs.
The full lunar stage that shined down on Whitaker Memorial Field also served as a reminder: It had been many moons since Chaffee last played in the Class 1 playoffs.
With Chaffee scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns and Tyson Estes dashing for 208 yards, the Red Devils reserved their first playoff appearance in 27 years with a 41-18 victory against Cleveland NJROTC.
"It means the world, the first time in 27 years," senior linebacker Cody Enderle said. "You wonder when this time is going to come again for this town and this community. I think it's wonderful."
Chaffee improved to 4-5 this season and 2-0 in Class 1 District 2 and will face No. 3 Valle Catholic for the district title Thursday in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
"It's pretty exciting," junior linebacker Trevor Cannon said. "To do something that hasn't been done in 27 years, and as a junior to do it and have the chance to do it again, it's a good feeling. And I love that we got it for a few seniors."
A young Chaffee squad has just six seniors on the roster.
"We knew it had been 27 years since the last time we had been in the playoffs, and it feels good my senior year to go out with a bang," said offensive tackle Kenny Cummins, the lone senior on Chaffee's offensive line.
Valle (8-1, 2-0) ensured Chaffee would make the playoffs for the first time since 1983 by defeating St. Vincent 57-8.
"It was a great relief for us," said junior quarterback Jordan Yahn, who had two touchdown runs and threw for a score. "It opened the door to the playoffs for us. Now we've got to come into next week and play a whole game instead of the last half. We haven't been playing a whole game since Scott City or St. Pius."
Chaffee also beat St. Vincent last week, when Estes had his first 100-yard game, ripping off 210 yards with 191 coming in the second half.
"[Assistant] coach [Jerry] Dement talked to us all week about the dog hasn't been fed in 27 years and he's hungry, and we came out hungry tonight and executed real well," Estes said.
The Red Devils struggled in the first half but used a strong second half to pull away like they did against St. Vincent. Chaffee led St. Vincent by four points at halftime and opened the second half with touchdowns on its first five possessions and went on to win 40-10.
Chaffee sputtered to a 14-12 halftime lead against Cleveland. The Commanders (1-8, 0-2) started four freshmen, including quarterback Antonio Burnett, and four sophomores on offense, but held a 217-58 advantage in yards in the first half.
Chaffee compensated for the yardage differential by blocking a punt -- one of two on the night -- and recovering both a fumbled punt and a mishandled kickoff.
"We didn't play well at all until right there at the end," Chaffee coach Charlie Vickery said. "We told them all week we can't let them have any type of momentum at all.
"Early we were making as many mistakes as they were, if not more -- putting the ball on the ground, penalties, missing blocks and not tackling. But the positive is we won, and we come back and play for a district championship."
Cleveland took its only lead of the game in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by sophomore Towaunn Canamore, which came two plays after freshman running back Michael Wells broke loose on a 79-yard run.
Chaffee started freshman quarterback Cody Payne, who gave way to Yahn by design on the Red Devils' third series. Chaffee's second possession ended in a punt that was fumbled by the Commanders and recovered by cornerback Jason Cicardi at the Cleveland 22.
Yahn capped a three-play drive with a 1-yard keeper to tie the score with 50 seconds left in the first quarter.
The ensuing kickoff then hit a Cleveland player and was recovered by Zach Dannenmueller at the Cleveland 39. The Red Devils covered the 39 yards in eight plays, again capped by a 1-yard Yahn touchdown run.
A conversion pass from Yahn to Dannenmueller gave Chaffee a 14-6 lead at the 9:05 mark of the second quarter.
Cleveland needed just one play to close the gap as Wells scored on a 71-yard run to cut the lead to 14-12, which held for the halftime score.
Wells ran for 151 yards on five carries in the first half.
Estes had 63 yards rushing on 13 carries in the first half. He added 145 yards to his total in the second half, while Wells saw his total drop.
"Tyson ran strong," Cummins said. "If the hole he was supposed to go through was clogged up, he'd cut over and the other tackle and guard would give him another hole. We were a little slow off the line, but the second half we came out and just made him some holes."
Chaffee accumulated 221 yards in the second half, while limiting Cleveland to 141 yards passing and minus-1 yard rushing. Half of the Commanders' second-half passing total came on a single play, a 70-yard touchdown pass to Wells.
"The first half we didn't do as good a job blocking," Cannon said. "[Estes] came out the second half and said, 'If you guys block, I'm going to bust my butt for you guys and you guys are going to be rewarded.' He stuck to what he was saying."
Estes only had five yards on his first seven carries of the second half, then broke loose for a 70-yard touchdown run with 1:33 left in the third quarter for a 20-12 lead.
Cleveland countered with Wells' touchdown reception just more than a minute later, cutting Chaffee's lead to 20-18 entering the fourth quarter.
Estes then carried seven times on an eight-play, 67-yard scoring drive. His 14-yard touchdown run and a conversion pass gave Chaffee a 28-18 lead with 8:18 left.
Chaffee scored touchdowns on its next two possessions. Yahn first threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Alex Davie, then Charlie Montgomery scored on a 17-yard run.
"It's amazing," junior guard Matt Cox said. "When the buzzer sounded everyone just kind of looked around at each other like, 'We did it.' It was pretty awesome."
Chaffee's last trip to the playoffs ended in the school's lone state championship.
"Right now we're not really looking at the playoffs," Cox said. "We're looking at Valle. We need to take it one step at a time. We're looking forward to it. We want to see how good we are against a good team like Valle."
CL -- Towaunn Canamore 1 run (kick failed), 4:08
CH -- Jordan Yahn 1 run (kick failed), :50
CH -- Yahn 1 run (Yahn pass to Alex Davie), 9:05
CL -- Michael Wells 71 run (pass failed), 8:40
CH -- Tyson Estes 70 run (kick failed), 1:33
CL -- Wells 70 pass from Antonio Burnett (pass failed), :20
CH -- Estes 14 run (Yahn pass to Zach Dannenmueller), 8:52
CH -- Davie 40 pass from Yahn (Yahn kick), 5:28
CH -- Charlie Montgomery 17 run (kick failed), 4:30
RUSHING -- Cleveland, Monteze Latimore 1-5, Wells 11-149, Burnett 2-(-8), Canamore 4-40, Team 1-(-10); Chaffee, Estes 31-208, Trevor Cannon 2-(-2), Yahn 4-8, Mike Rutherford 1-(-5), Montgomery 1-17, Codey Browne 3-4, Devon Yahn 1-(-2), Team 1-(-20)
PASSING -- Cleveland, Burnett 13-27-2-185, Jermaine Griffin 1-2-0-8; Chaffee, Cody Payne 2-5-0-12, Yahn 3-6-1-55
RECEIVING -- Cleveland, Latimore 5-49, Mitchell Harris 3-25, Brian Crump 3-34, Canamore 1-4, Wells 2-71; Chaffee, Dannenmueller 1-13, Andrew Terhune 1-(-1), Mike Rutherford 1-7, Cannon 1-8, Davie 1-40