Doesn’t matter. This Cadet bunch has plenty of talent and a top flight quarterback in Brett Gabbert, a hard-nosed defense, and a bruising offensive line.
Gabbert, the Cadets’ star junior signal-caller, threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns as CBC raced to a 42-7 victory over Eureka in a Class 6 semifinal on Nov. 10 at Eureka.
The win puts CBC [12-1] in its third state championship game in four seasons as the Cadets will face either Blue Springs or Park Hill on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in Springfield.
In Brown’s and Walton’s absence, senior wideout Lonell Boyd Jr. and junior receiver Julian Williams stepped up and became Gabbert’s main passing options.
Williams had 9 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. Boyd hauled 5 passes for 96 yards, including a dazzling 55-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
“That was kind of our game plan,” Gabbert said. ” A lot of unfamiliar faces stepped up and that’s what we’re all about. Your number’s called, they were prepared and that’s what happened.”
Cadets junior running back Brian Bradford continued to punish in the ground game as he ran for 124 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown.
Bradford’s running and Gabbert’s skill in the passing game made the night brutal for Eureka.
“They’ve got talent and hat’s off to that offense,” Eureka coach Jake Sumner said. “A very talented offensive group and they showed it.”
CBC’s defense shined as well. The Cadets did something no other defense has done this season in making Eureka standout running back Haskins appear mere mortal.
Haskins managed to rush for 121 yards but never had a run of longer than 12 yards for the entire game.
“We saw a lot of film on him and he’s a special guy,” CBC coach Scott Pingel said, “but when you have 11 guys playing like we do, I was very pleased.”
CBC took a 14-0 halftime lead thanks to a 3-yard touchdown run from Chance Lotts with 6.3 seconds left in the first quarter. Gabbert connected with Boyd Jr. for a 55-yard touchdown strike with 8:59 to go in the second stanza.
Gabbert hit Niko Hea with a 38-yard bomb for a touchdown just 12 seconds into the third quarter to make it 20-0. On Eureka’s first play of the third quarter, CBC junior defensive back Larry Williams picked off a pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. The Cadets were up 27-0 just one minute, 24 seconds into the third quarter.
Eureka found a little life late in the third quarter when freshman quarterback Carter Davis hit sophomore wideout Jhalon Asher-Sanders for a 57-yard touchdown pass, making it 27-7 with 3:23 left in the third quarter.
That was the last time Eureka was able to find the end zone. Eureka’s defense could not slow down the Cadets as CBC added a pair of touchdowns over the final 13 minutes to pull away.
“We had a game plan and we knew we could throw it short and throw it deep and that’s what we did,” Gabbert said. “Coach Pingel did a phenomenal job calling plays and all the receivers made plays for me tonight.
“It feels amazing to be going to state and I’m a little speechless. I went to state in my freshman year and it feels good to be going back.”
Eureka, which had a 12-game win streak snapped by CBC, finished the season at 12-1.
“I’m real proud of my guys, especially our seniors,” Sumner said. “This group of seniors is about as neat of a group as I’ve ever coached and they are just a great group of kids. I’m going to miss them and I’m just so proud of them.”