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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sweet repeat!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

ROCKET MAN: Ethan Leisenring explodes down the field for one of his two touchdowns against Cabool. Photos/Mullins
It didn't come inside a big box with shiny wrapping paper and a fancy bow, buts it's hard to imagine Thayer Bobcat Head Football Coach Billy Webber receiving any better birthday present than the one he got on Oct. 30.

Serenaded with a chorus of "Happy Birthday," while surrounded by his players, their families and friends, Webber was presented with a T-shirt emblazoned with "Thayer Bobcats 2008 District Champions," at the middle of The Pit in Cabool.

Just minutes earlier, Webber's squad had put the finishing touches on their second straight Class 1 District 3 title with a 48-7 dismantling of the homestanding Bulldogs.

More than just a T-shirt and district title, Webber also got a home playoff game for the Bobcats to go along with his birthday haul. Thayer will host Joplin McAuley Nov. 5, the second consecutive year the two schools have met in the playoffs at Louis Bozman Stadium.

Now that's a birthday present!

And what another remarkable performance from the Bobcats (8-1).

Although at this point it should be no big shock, it's still amazing the way the Cats blew apart the district in 2008. With all three of its District 3 opponents (Cabool, Marionville and Miller) at one time ranked in the top 10 of Class 1 this year, Thayer won the title by outscoring all three by a combined 137-22.

While Cabool has been down on its luck this year, Thayer didn't pull any punches, as jet-quick Ethan Leisenring almost single-handedly put the game away in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the contest.

All Leisening did before a lot of the fans at The Pit had even found their seats was score two touchdowns and kick two extra-points for the Bobcats.

He took the opening kick from Cabool and ran it back 85 yards down the left sideline for a lightning-fast touchdown. Then he kicked the PAT to give Thayer a 7-0 lead.

Then after Luke Martin picked off a Cabool pass, Leisenring (two carries, 79 yards) ran 23 yards up the middle of the field for his score of the first quarter. His extra-point gave the visitors from Oregon County a 14-0 advantage at the 9:23 point of the first.

Cabool was just not capable of creating any offense in the first half, and the Bobcat defense gave up just 11 yards to the Bulldogs during the first two quarters of play. So dominating was Thayer's defense, that Cabool did not pick up its first first down of the game until the 3:00 mark of the first quarter, and that was due to a face mask penalty on the Bobcats.

Up 14-0, the Cats poured it on with two more first quarter scores.

Jacob Eckman (three-for-nine, 65 yards passing) hit Josh Huckabee with a 35-yard touchdown pass with 6:17 left in the first. The point-after boosted Thayer's lead to 21-zip.

Next, after a big quarterback keeper from Eckman (six rushes, 66 yards), Huckabee notched his second TD of the first quarter on a 13-yard blast. The extra-point was wide of the mark, but the Bobcats had forged a commanding 27-0 lead.

As Thayer's defensive front continued to keep Cabool on its own side of the field, the Cats' next score came just before the half, set up by a fumble recovery from Cameron Carey.

Bobcat quarterback Jared Foley (four rushes, 25 yards) hit Dylan Harralston with a 17-yard strike that took the ball to the Bulldog 7-yard line.

One play later, Harralston burst in as time expired in the first half. Leisenring's PAT extended Thayer's lead to 34-0 at intermission.

Eckman added a 30-yard touchdown on an option keeper in the third quarter, while Leisenring scored his third touchdown of the night on a 56-yard scamper in the frame.

Down 48-zip after three quarters, the Bulldogs finally got on the scoreboard with a shade under five minutes left in the game.

Corey Tate scored on a 3-yard carry on third-and-goal to give Cabool its only points of the night. Lance Schneider caught two passes for 30 yards for Thayer, while Lucas Risner carried the ball nine times for 18 yards and Jeremy Cabrales tallied 15 yards on four totes for the Cats.

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