It was also senior appreciation night for the home standing Thayer Bobcats at Louis Bozman Field.
Along with recognition of the senior football players and their parents, this was also a chance to recognize cheerleaders, dance team and band members, who are all a vital and important part of high school leadership, learning, discipline, team support and life experience.
On the football field, the senior players stepped it up and showed their leadership skills.
Senior Bobcat quarterback Brandon Childers followed instructions from Thayer coach Billy Webber and orchestrated the Bobcat offense like a maestro directing a symphony.
After handily defeating the two other district opponents, Hayti and Portageville, only the Cabool Bulldogs stood in the way of a fifth consecutive district championship and a chance to continue the football season for the Bobcats.
Thayer played host to Cleveland NJROTC in the first round of the Class 1 playoffs Nov. 2.
Following the excellent interior Bobcat line blocks from Campbell, Reed, Denbow the senior anchors, Bobby Rosa and Kendall Pittman at the center position, Childers would read the defense and blocks of senior tight ends Henry on one side or Dennis on the other, before making a handoff or pitchout.
Senior fullback Jeremy Cabrales rolled over Bulldog defenders picking up 12 yards.
Childers made great ball fakes on another give to Cabrales, as senior tight end Dylan Dennis blocked Cabool defenders inside.
After the ball fake, Childers made a pitchout to Blair for 15.
Only once in the first series of plays did the Bobcats not pick up enough rushing yardage to move the chain on first down plays, as the Cats drove around the right side into the Bulldog end zone. Blair's 20-yard run for a touchdown was nullified by a Bobcat holding flag. The Bobcats backed up and ran senior Connor Blair around the left side for 14 yards and the same result, a Bobcat TD. The PAT from Cabrales split the uprights, giving Thayer a 7-0 lead with seven minutes remaining in the first.
Cabool attempted to run the ball, but met a wall of Kelly-green clad Bobcats.
Senior Isaiah Martin stood up the Dogs' running backs from his linebacker slot with support from fellow linebackers Barton and Burke.
The long arms of senior Derek Krieg wrapped up run attempts at the line. When the Bulldogs attempted a sweep, senior defensive end Dylan Dennis met them five yards deep for a sack.
After the Bulldogs had to punt, the potent Bobcat offense took over.
Cabool's defense had seen the dive play and the option, and that was what they were looking for. What they didn't expect was Childers scrambling around in the backfield, tucking the ball and turning the corner. Like a cheetah on the run, Childers hit high speed and galloped 56 yard before the Bulldogs could edge him out of bounds, near the 11.
After the long yardage pick-up deep into Bulldog territory, the Bobcats lined up at the 11. Cabool's defensive end took the bait as the Cats ran the option right.
The defender's responsibility is to contain the outside, but when he saw Childers dip his shoulders to dive inside, the defender charged that direction.
With the Bulldog defender committed and following the inside move, Childers made a quick hesitation step and pitched outside to Blair. Thayer's senior tailback sprinted into the end zone, leaving Bulldogs sprawled on the ground in his wake. The PAT run came up short of the line, with the Bobcats in front 13-0.
The Bulldog defense did put up a good fight, forcing Thayer to punt. Cabool's return team created a seam along the Bobcat sideline, which Clayton Manning used to scoot into the Bobcat end zone. The PAT kick was good to post seven points for the Dogs.
Quickly after the Cabool score, Bobcat Connor Blair answered with a dash around the Bobcat left end for six more Thayer points. The PAT kick from Cabrales was good, 21-7 Bobcats, with five minutes remaining in the second.
A slight breakdown in the Bobcat kick coverage allowed the Bulldogs good field position. Thayer's defense stepped up to shut the door on the Cabool drive and take over.
Fullback Jeremy Cabrales showed no mercy as he ran through tackles, bulled over defenders and rolled over a defender, extended the ball at the goal line for the TD and six, plus the extra point, for a 28-7 Bobcat halftime lead.
The Bobcats started the second half with hard hitting runs by Hargrove and Cabrales to move right down the field inside the Cabool 15.
After a scramble and attempt to gain extra yardage, sophomore QB Mitch Webber, looses the handle on the ball, with the Bulldogs recovering, at their own 3-yard line.
With only one big yardage gain on a counter run from Cabool's Manning, the Cat defense stops any Bulldog advance to take over for the Bobcats again.
With 5:09 remaining in the third, Bobcat fullback Cabrales angles off tackle, turns it up the sideline for a 32-yard Bobcat score and kick for a 35-7 Thayer margin.
In what may have been desperation, from the pressure applied by Henry and Hargrove, Cabool's young sophomore QB made an ill-advised pass attempt to the right flat.
The pass may have been tipped at the line of scrimmage by senior defensive tackle Derek Krieg, as the pigskin wobbled, Thayer's defensive back Hunter Ary stepped in front of the intended receiver, for a pick-six.
Ary returned the pass interception 33 yards across the end stripe for six more Bobcat points.
The PAT was true by Cabrales, 42-7 Cats, at the end of the third quarter.
The Bobcat offense was not done yet.
Connor Blair ripped the Bulldogs with another 50-plus yard TD run. The PAT kick was right down the middle.
Lots for fresh clean jerseys on both sides of the Bobcats lined up to gain some experience and run the clock out during the final quarter. The less-experienced Bobcat team players made some positive yardage and only allowed one Bulldog touchdown, for a 49-13 final.
The Thayer Bobcats wrapped up the regular season and the district championship, with the win over Cabool, and prepare to take on their next challenge.
Local business Fin to Fur, who all season long has donated 50¢ to cancer research for each yard a Bobcat running back has rushed, will need to tally up these figures, for the Bobcats who were "Rushing for a Cure."
Connor Blair chalked up 192 yards, Jeremy Cabrales rolled for 149 and quarterback Brandon Childers added 123 yards rushing. Childers was four-for-six passing for 45 yards for the Bobcats.