One Step Away From Going Back To State, Burroughs Football Heads Down To Monett For Semifinal Saturday
Undefeated Bombers will square off against 10-3 Monett and its vaunted 'Purple Haze' defense.
The first half of last Saturday's MSHSAA Class 3 quarterfinal football game was about as frustrated as anyone has seen John Burroughs head coach Gus Frerotte during his short time as leader of the Bombers.
Burroughs wasn't exactly playing badly, but there were having trouble stopping the Park Hills Central offense from holding the ball and controlling the clock.
"It was frustrating, just really frustrating," Frerotte said last Saturday. "And it wasn't so much their offense. We knew they wanted to run the ball, run the ball, run the ball. Then, run the ball, run the ball, run the ball some more. I was upset that we had a chance to complete some passes and we didn't do it."
The second half was a different story, as the Bombers took their turn dominating the action and controlling the clock, with running back Ezekiel Elliott rushing for 171 of his 175 total yards and scoring three touchdowns to lead Burroughs to a 24-0 victory.
"Their line was kind of dominating in the first half," Elliott said. "But our defense, it's kind of undersized, but they just have so much heart man, so much heart, that we knew they'd figure out how to stop them, and they did."
"I told Zeke to get ready to get 25 carries in the second half," Frerotte said. "And he did, and we took back control of the game."
After the game, folks leaving Park Hills Central's Rebel Stadium were sure Burroughs was the better team -- a three-touchdown win will leave that impression.
But what folks couldn't help but wonder, was if Park Hills Central had given the remaining Class 3 playoff teams the blueprint on how to beat the Bombers.
Later today, the host Monett Cubs will try their hand at stopping the No. 1-ranked Bombers, in a highly anticipated matchup at Burl Fowler Stadium in Monett.
Burroughs (12-0) is high-scoring juggernaut that averages 40 points a game, features a running back that's going to Ohio State next year, and has been to the Show-Me Bowl state championship game each of the last two seasons.
Monett, which is 10-3 on the year, hasn't had a team get this far in the playoffs since 1977. But the Cubs do have one of the best defenses in the state -- a unit its fans call "The Purple Haze."
“We are the Purple Haze and we take pride in what we do,” senior lineman Reese Bounous told the Joplin Globe after last week's 49-6 win over rival Eldon (MO). “No one wants to be the hero on defense. We just want to make the play. That’s what makes us effective.”
Incredibly effective is what "The Purple Haze" has been this season, with two shutouts and five games allowing just one score or less.
And during the playoffs is where the Monett defense has been its best, holding each of its last three opponents, which includes state powers Cassville and Eldon, to just one touchdown each.
"That's the best defense we've played against all year and we've played some pretty good teams," Eldon coach Shannon Jolley told the Springfield News-Leader last week. "What an outstanding group of kids. It's a great football team, but what a tough group of kids on the field when (the defense) gets out there."
Today at 1:30 p.m., it'll be the Bombers' turn to try to push aside Monett's hard-hitting defense.
"We'll look at them on film, see what they do well, and see what we think we can do well against them," Frerotte said. "I know it's hard for the kids to not think about the Dome, but we really try to just take it one game at a time, and focus on the team we have in front of us."
The coach is clearly a believer in the old sports adage, you can't get to that one, if you don't win this one.