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Friday, May 6, 2016

In the district driver's seat

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

STUFFED: Thayer's Christian Hunt (76) and Stefan Cotham (57) stop Miller running back Darrin Clark from getting upfield in the Bobcats' huge 54-14 victory over the Cardinals on homecoming night. Photos/Looney
In real estate, it's all about location, location, location.

Turns out location is also an important factor in high school football.

Fueld by an explosive offense and loaded with a ton of talented skill players at almost every position, the Miller Cardinals have been one of the top teams in Class 1 the past couple of seasons and have lost just four games in two seasons.

AIRBORNE: The Thayer defense kept the high-flying Miller Cardinals in check, while the Bobcats' offense racked up 54 points against their District 3 rivals. Photo/Looney
But it just so happens that three of those losses have been at the hands of a team that lives on the same block as Miller does, one of the elite teams in Class 1, the Thayer Bobcats.

After knocking off Miller in district play in 2007, the Cats pushed past Miller twice last year, once in district play and once in the state playoffs, on their way to the Edward Jones Dome for Thayer's second straight appearance in the Class 1 Show-Me Bowl.

So with that as a backdrop, Thayer welcomed Miller to Louis Bozman Stadium Oct. 16 for the opening round of 2009 District 3 play.

And just as they had been the previous four times, the Bobcats were rude neighbors to the visiting Cardinals, sending Miller (6-2, 0-1) home with a 54-14 loss.

That thoroughly dominating win puts Thayer (6-1, 1-0) in excellent position to defend its district championship.

Thayer offered no surprises in this one, just the same completely overwhelming rushing attack that has been key in all of the Bobcats' victories this season. Falling in behind the big green monster that is its offensive line, Thayer's running backs had an field day, piling up 488 yards of offense on the ground.

Josh Huckabee, certainly one of the most dynamic backs in the state, racked up 239 yards against Miller, while hard-running Cameron Carey picked up 109. Quarterback Jared Foley proved he can run the football by rushing for 84 yards and jet-fast Ethan Leiseniring added 63 yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Bobcat defense was once again solid as a rock, holding the high-powered Cardinals to just over 250 yards of total offense. Thayer's defensive front even stopped Miller on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line early in the second quarter, with Lucas Risner, Tommy Martin and Christian Hunt teaming up to stuff Cardinal running back Darrin Clark at the goal line.

Matter of fact, defense jump-started the Bobcats' efforts right off the bat.

On the second snap of the game, Foley picked off Miller quarterback Justin Jack to give the ball to Thayer's offense.

And the offense knew just what to do with the ball, as Leisenring scored on a 5-yard TD run at the 8:26 point of the first, giving Thayer a 6-0 lead.

That turned into a 14-0 lead on Thayer's next series, thanks to a 5-yard touchdown from Huckabee. Huckabee also reeled in the 2-point conversion pass from Foley, helping the Cats to a 14-0 advantage after one.

After stopping Miller at the goal line to start the second, the Bobcats went 99 yards in 13 plays for their next score. Leisenring crossed the goal line for the second time on the night, this time from 28 yards out, to edge Thayer on top 21-0.

That three-touchdown lead held up at the half.

Foley busted loose with a shifty 44-yard touchdown run to start the third quarter, extending Thayer's lead to 27-zip with 10:19 left in the frame.

Garrett Brewer recovered a Jack fumble on Miller's next possession and Thayer was back in business.

Huckabee cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal to keep things rolling in the Cats' favor, with a 33-0 lead.

But Miller got back into the game with a pair of scores that came less than 20 seconds apart.

Clark scored on a 7-yard touchdown run at the 4:51 mark of the third and then the Cats fumbled the football away and Kent Johnson scooped it up and ran it in from 21 yards out for Miller's next touchdown at the 4:34 mark.

With Miller behind by 33-14, things got worse for Thayer as the Bobcats let another fumble get away, with the Cardinals recovering that one, too.

But Leisenring returned the favor with an interception of Jack and he ran it deep onto Miller's side of the field.

Three plays later, Carey carved his way through the Miller defense for a 35-yard touchdown run with 1:39 still left in the third. Leisenring caught the 2-point conversion pass and Thayer had righted the ship, up 41-14.

That turned into a 48-14 advantage as Huckabee found the end zone one more time on a 3-yard blast, giving the Bobcats a commanding 48-14 lead after three.

Thayer capped its impressive homecoming performance with a 4-yard touchdown plunge from Foley midway into the final frame, wrapping up a 54-14 victory for the Bobcats.

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