Defense, special teams help Warrenton earn district win

By John Rohlf, Sports Editor
Posted 11/2/23

Big plays on defense and special teams along with a missed extra point by Lutheran St. Charles pushed the Warrenton Warriors into this week’s district semifinals. 

Warrenton (10-0) …

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Defense, special teams help Warrenton earn district win


Big plays on defense and special teams along with a missed extra point by Lutheran St. Charles pushed the Warrenton Warriors into this week’s district semifinals. 

Warrenton (10-0) earned a 21-20 win over Lutheran St. Charles (3-7) Friday night in the first round of the Class 4, District 4 tournament. Warrenton will face No. 1 district seed Parkway North (8-1) Friday in the district semifinals. With the win, Warrenton became the third football team in school history to win at least 10 games. 

“It’s kind of funny. It was the message I just kind of gave our guys was this is two weeks in a row, we come off with a win, get to double digit wins, go to 10-0 now and we look sad,” Warrenton head football coach Jason Koper said. “There’s got to be a little bit of an excitement and celebration here to understand that we’re 10-0 and one of three teams in Warrenton history to get the double digit wins.”

After falling behind 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, Warrenton scored a pair of second quarter touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead into halftime. The Warriors took over at the Lutheran St. Charles 45-yard line after the Cougars’ touchdown and drove down the field to tie the game. Running back Austin Haas capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Charlie Blondin ran for four yards on 4th and 1 from the 6-yard line on a quarterback sneak to extend the drive. 

After Warrenton’s score with 8:45 remaining, there was no more scoring until the final minute of the half when freshman Chance McPike tipped a pass in the air and intercepted the pass. He returned the interception 35 yards for a touchdown to give Warrenton the lead and the momentum heading into halftime. Warrenton led 14-7 at the half. 

“I feel like that was the difference in the game right there to get that interception,” Koper said. “What a terrific playmaker he is. The kid’s special. It doesn’t matter where we have him at, he’s one of the most special athletes I’ve ever coached. Great play and not surprising at all to see him come up. Something about today, I just had a feeling he was going to come up with a big play.” 

Warrenton’s lead was quickly erased in the third quarter. After Warrenton was called for holding on 3rd down on their opening drive, Quarterback Charlie Blondin threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown to tie the game. The game remained scoreless for most of the half until the Warrior special teams unit blocked a Lutheran St. Charles punt to give the Warrenton offense the ball at the Cougar 27-yard line. 

“That was just effort,” Koper said. “We were really trying to play safe more at that point in the game and the effort took care of it.”

Haas scored his second touchdown of the game two plays later on an 18-yard touchdown run  with less than seven minutes remaining. 

The Lutheran St. Charles offense converted a key fourth down and drove the ball 78 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Jamar Cross Jr. capped off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds remaining in the game. The Cougars missed the extra point and Kadin Stroer recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt to put the game away. 

“I think we did a good job,” Koper said. “Offensive game planning just on my side was weak and I think that put us in a bad spot several times on offense. I’ve got to do a better job. I’ll be the first to admit when I make mistakes and I’ll put that one on me. We ran the ball effectively and any time we tried to pass tonight, we just weren’t having any success. So that’s me, got to do a better job scheming some things up.”

Stroer led the Warrior defense with six solo tackles and seven tackle assists. Treyvian Guthrie led the Warriors with two sacks. Javon Jones and Jacob Ruff each had one sack. Guthrie and Stroer each recovered one fumble. 

Warrenton will travel to St. Louis to take on Parkway North at 7 p.m. Friday. The Warriors will look to move to 11-0 on the season and advance to the district championship game. Parkway North had a bye last week. 

“We’ve got to execute for four quarters, top to bottom,” Koper said. “I told them that in the  huddle. It’s going to start with me. I’ve got to do a better job of getting them in the right position to make plays with all the playmakers we have. And then from that point on, we just have to play four complete quarters.”