“I’m going back to being a better father and a better husband,” Pingel said. “Coaching football is all-consuming. I’ve got great support at home. My wife, Jodi, is a coach’s wife and my two kids love being around the team.
“Drained is not the word to use to use when the season is over. Release is not the right word. It’s time to enjoy it and look to other things.”
CBC, who finished the season 13-1, overcame Blue Springs 31-14 in the Missouri Class 6 football title game at Plaster Stadium in Springfield on Missouri State University’s campus.
This was CBC’s second state title in Pingel’s 10 seasons with the Cadets. In those 10 seasons, CBC’s record is 106-20.
The Cadets earned the school’s first state championship in 2014, a berth in the state championship game in 2011 and 2015, the state semifinals in 2016 and the state quarterfinals in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013.
Blue Springs defeated CBC in the semifinals last year, making the two teams a competitive match-up this year.
“Both teams earned the right to be here,” Pingel said. “Blue Springs got us last year and we were ready for them this year. I think we were playing our best football going into the championship game.”
Pingel believed the battle of one Kansas City school and one St. Louis school was the perfect way to settle a state championship.
“I talked to [Blue Springs’ coach Kelly Donohoe] before the game. He thought it was the two best teams in the state, and I agreed with him,” Pingel said.
It was a hard-fought game.
“It was very physical, violent game,” Pingel said. “It was one of the hardest hitting games I’ve been a part of. We could tell this was going to be a different kind of game and I’m proud of the way we responded.”
Blue Springs’ Coach Donohoe saw his Wildcats’ season come to an end in disappointment for a second consecutive year. In 2016, Blue Springs lost 31-14 to Kirkwood in the state final.
“We just did not play as well as we’ve been playing. That’s what’s disappointing… to get to this game and make some mistakes,” Donohoe said. “In this game with [CBC], if it was a 10-game series, it probably would be about a 5-and-5 deal but, as we tell our guys all the time, sometimes the other guys have a better day.”
Junior running back Bryan Bradford led a CBC offense with 126 yards rushing on 29 carries. He scored three touchdowns, two of which were in the fourth quarter – helping the Cadets pull off a dream performance.
“We knew [Bradford] was a good back but, boy, he’s tough,” Donohoe said.
CBC quarterback Brett Gabbert, younger brother of Arizona Cardinals and former University of Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, completed 15 of 22 passes for 144 yards.
Gabbert passed for more than 2,700 yards and 33 touchdowns in the season’s 13 games.
The running game with Bradford was working so well, Gabbert didn’t need to throw as much.
CBC made a key defensive stand just before halftime that ended in a missed field goal for Blue Springs. The Wildcats had gone on a 25-play drive that spanned 8 minutes, 29 seconds of game clock. The Wildcats scored no points in spite of the efforts and trailed 7-0 at the break.
“When we get in the red zone, we typically score touchdowns. I think that was really tough for us a couple of times to get down there and not be able to score,” Donohoe said.
The Cadets pulled further ahead to 14-6 on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Carson Buddemeyer to Julian Williams with 3:52 left in the third period.
A 20-yard field goal from senior Dylan McGraw increased CBC’s lead to 17-6 in fourth quarter.
Wildcat senior Cade Musser scored a 29-yard touchdown run with 9:12 remaining in the game to pull the Wildcats within three points of the Cadets.
But Bradford answered with a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:18 remaining in the game to reestablish CBC’s lead.
“To those guys at CBC to be able to drive that ball down the field and score that against our defense, hats off to those guys, because that’s the drive of the game for them,” Donohoe said.
“The guys all came to play,” Pingel said. “The defense played lights out.”
When the game ended, Pingel said the players “went crazy,” celebrating at the 50-yard line and then going into the stands to greet their fans.
“In the locker room, it was really emotional,” Pingel said. “It was pretty special.”
Pingel added, “It is so hard to win one of these damn things. Getting here and winning it so cool. It’s been a great run for us.”
A total of 29 players and team managers will graduate.
However, the cupboard is not bare. Pingel said seven players on offense and six on defense will be back.
As for Pingel, “Oh, yeah. I’m coming back.”