WEBB CITY, Mo. — Call it Sweet Sixteen, because the Webb City Cardinals are in contention for the program’s 16th ever state championship. Should they win, it would also be their first state championship in Class 5.
The Cards are obviously no strangers to state titles, but the road to this game has been bumpier than in years past.
John Roderique, Webb City head coach, says, “Six or eight weeks ago, none of us thought this would’ve been possible, where we were at and how we were playing. Not that we were a bad team, but we certainly weren’t a team that was gonna advance.”
After three regular season losses, the team has been the underdogs all throughout the playoffs, which is a role they’ve taken in stride.
Roderique says, “This is a team that’s really played well together over the last month or so. And they didn’t play that way early in the season. The thing that I’m most proud about is how gritty, resilient, tough our kids have been, in terms of really working hard to get better every day and every week.”
Friday night, the team hopes to be playing their best. They’ll be facing undefeated Holt, who’s in contention for their first ever state title. Holt, however, will be without starting quarterback Cooper Brown, who broke his collarbone in the semifinal round.
Cohl Vaden, Webb City quarterback, says, “[The mindset is], we’re gonna keep the same thing we’ve always kept. Underdogs. We’re facing an undefeated team, first shot at a Class 5 championship. That’s what we want.”
Roderique says, “It doesn’t matter who you’ve beaten along the way. You still gotta go out and play this game, you gotta play it as well as you can. What we’ve kind of talked about is finishing this game the best we’ve played all season. Hopefully we still have a little more improvement to give.”
If the Cardinals win the state title, they’ll officially have the most state titles of any program in Missouri history. Currently, they’re tied with Valle Catholic for that record at 15 championships each.
The Class 5 championship game is set to kick off on Friday, December 3 at 7:00 p.m. The game will be played at Mizzou’s Faurot Field in Columbia. Tickets to both Webb City’s game and Lamar’s Class 2 championship game can be purchased here.