Spartans come on late in season, win first ever State Title

 
Cameron Mellor (@CamMellor)
February 25, 2015

 

 

In 2014, many firsts happened all across the country. Some teams made it to the playoffs for the first time, while others advanced to the season’s culminating championship games for the first time.

 

In Columbia, Missouri the Spartans from Battle High School captured their school’s first ever State Championship in football, beating Nixa, 24-22.

 

The fight to get to the State Championship for Battle, however, was just that – quite the challenge.

 

The Spartans started their season off on the wrong foot, dropping a high-scoring matchup to Jackson, 62-34. Despite 265 rushing yards by Nash Sutherlin, the Spartans were outdone in the second half, surrendering 27 points over the final two quarters.

 

Despite the loss to open the season, Battle put forth a gutsy performance against Wentzville Holt in their second game of the season. Leading 42-28 at halftime, the Spartans allowed the Indians back in to the game in the second half after a quick 70-yard touchdown heave cut the Battle advantage to 49-42.

 

Sutherlin however would put the game away with a 50-yard touchdown rush, his second of the game, with just 3:47 left to play, giving the Spartans a 56-42 advantage. Even with a late touchdown surrendered to the Indians, Battle pulled off the victory, 56-49, in what would be the highest scoring game of the season in terms of total points for both teams.

 

After their exciting victory over Holt, Battle took to their home field for the first time in 2014, against Class 6 Rock Bridge.

 

After starting the game with two unconventional scores, a safety and a field goal, that gave the Spartans a 5-0 lead, the Bruins would launch a 25-point scoring onslaught over the next 25 minutes. Rock Bridge would hold on to defeat Battle, 25-11, pushing the Spartans record to just 1-2 on the season.

 

The Spartans brought their record back to even with a 36-0 shutout victory over Excelsior Springs in week four, only to be right back on the losing side of things a week later. Against Helias Catholic, Battle turned the ball over three times and committed nine penalties for 75 yards in a 29-14 defeat.

 

The playoffs seemed a long ways away for the Spartans after week five, but nevertheless, the Battle defense stood tall in their next two games, holding both Hickman and Lee’s Summit North to just seven points apiece and just 116 and 96 total yards of offense, respectively. Battle defeated the Kewpies, 14-7 before defeating the Broncos, 37-7.

 

Any momentum built from their two consecutive wins before, was lost the next week when Battle hosted Jefferson City in the final regular season home game of the year. The Jays built a 31-7 lead at halftime and didn’t look back, defeating the Spartans, 38-20.

 

In the final game of the regular season however, Battle once again got back to their winning ways, defeating Hannibal, 28-14 to push their record to 5-4 before heading to the playoffs as an unlikely contender.

 

The start to the playoffs pitted the Spartans against a one-win team in Washington, whom Battle defeated easily, 56-8 to advance.

 

Carrying what would become a common trend into their next game, Battle would face off against one of their regions top teams, and one of the teams that had been qualified for an automatic pass from the first round of the playoffs. Waynesville, the Spartans opponent in the second round, was coming off a week of rest, having been granted a bye in the first round.

 

Their rest seemingly paid off as late in the fourth quarter, Waynesville running back Jalen Thomas scored from 1-yard out to give the Tigers their first lead of the game, 17-14. That lead needed to last just 0:18 seconds longer however, as Sutherlin capped a quick drive with a 3-yard touchdown rush for the game-winning score.

 

The Spartans advanced to the third round after defeating Waynesville, 21-17.

 

Battle would take on Camdenton in their next postseason game, another team that had been granted a pass through the first round of the playoffs.

 

The Spartans scored first on a Brevinn Tyler connection to Chyrome Thorpe in the first quarter before Camdenton would tie the score before halftime at 7-7. Battle however would score two quick times in the third quarter to steal momentum and hold on to beat the Lakers, 22-14 and advance to the state quarterfinals.

 

Fort Zumwalt North would await the Spartans in the quarterfinals, having won their two playoffs games with ease, 29-0 over Parkway North and 42-7 over Fort Zumwalt East. The Panthers were also granted a bye in the first round of the playoffs and would meet the Spartans holding  a 10-1 record.

 

Similar to their previous game, Battle and Fort Zumwalt North went to the halftime break tied, this time at 13 points apiece.

 

Tyler would throw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Javeon McQuitty in the opening moments of the third quarter before both defenses would stand tall. The Tyler-McQuitty connection would be the final points of the game, and be enough to advance the Spartans to the state semifinals with a 20-13 victory.

 

Taking on their lone opponent who wasn’t granted that first round bye, the Spartans seemingly looked the part of the dominant team, dismantling Ladue Horton Watkins, 34-6 to advance to the school’s first ever state championship game appearance.

 

The State Championship game featured two teams just as unlikely as the other to have made it to the season’s culminating game. Both Nixa and Battle would bring with them a 10-4 record.

 

The Spartans got the scoring started with a Marshall Willingham 17-yard score with just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

 

The Eagles answered back however, with two quick Alec Murphy scores that gave Nixa a 14-7 lead that they would take to halftime. A scoreless third quarter was broken in rapid fashion as Battle kicker Kaleb Adams connected on a 43-yard field goal with 4:01 left.

 

Nixe quarterback Logan Tyler would be intercepted on the Eagles ensuing possession as Darrion Hall would secure the takeaway and return it for a touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion, the Spartans lead 18-14 in just a matter of 1:10 seconds.

 

Riding their momentum, Brevinn Tyler would rush from 18-yards out to give Battle a 24-14 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

 

Adams field goal in the third quarter would prove to be the difference in the game after Dawson Mills connected with Dustin Clifton for 17-yards and a score that brought the Eagles within two points, 24-22.

 

The Spartans would need to bleed the remaining 4:18 off of the clock to hold on to the victory. They got help by means of a big 33-yard completion from Tyler to Thorpe on a 3rd and 8 play. After the pass, Tyler would seemingly put the game away with a 50-yard touchdown rush, only to be called back by an illegal procedure penalty.

 

Nevertheless, the Spartans would be able to run out the final moments of the clock and secure the school’s first ever football State Championship, holding on to defeat Nixa, 24-22.

 

 

After an up and down season ended with the ultimate goal, the 2015 season for the Spartans will have to have some exciting moments to compete with this past season. Battle will return Tyler (a rising junior), Thorpe, McQuitty and a host of other offensive stars looking to defend their title.

 

One thing is for sure, if teams didn’t know who the Battle Spartans were before 2014, they know now.

 

Offensive stat leaders

Rushing: Nash Sutherlin (2090 yards)

Passing: Brevinn Tyler (1379 yards)

Receiving: Chyrome Thorpe (554 yards)

All-Purpose: Nash Sutherlin (1290 yards)

Touchdowns: Nash Sutherlin (19)

Rush attempts: Nash Sutherlin (280 carries)

Receptions: Chyrome Thorpe (43 catches)

 

Defensive stat leaders

Interceptions: Kole Hinton (4)

Interception return: Marshall Willingham (111 yards)

Fumbles recovered: Chandler Anderson (4)

 

Team statistics

Total scoring: 427 points

Opponent scoring: 311

Total offense: 5186 yards

Total rushing yards: 1669 yards

Total passing yards: 3517 yards

Opponent offense: 3153 yards

Opponent rushing yards: 1475 yards

Opponent passing yards: 1678 yards

Turnover differential: +9 (18 interceptions, 11 fumbles)