In 2017 the North Callaway varsity football team had every highlight it could possibly imagine.
That included defeating South Callaway at home during the regular season, winning the Eastern Missouri Conference title and then bouncing the rival Bulldogs from the playoffs in that order. In 2018 that trifecta was starting to haunt the Thunderbird's because not only did they lose that initial contest at South Callaway, but the Bulldogs used that victory as a springboard to winning the EMO title.
That was the background leading into last Fridays Class 2, District 5, second round contest between these two squads at South Callaway, and once the action started it quickly became evident that this game wasn't going to be the back-and-forth shootout that the first matchup was. This was a much more methodical, defensively oriented game that saw the Thunderbird's take an early 6-0 lead, only to then fall behind South Callaway 7-6 before finally losing 14-6.
"This was a well played game by both teams. The difference was they made a couple of big plays and we didn't," said North Callaway coach Kevin O'Neal. "We were definitely led by our seniors, who went out playing Thunderbird football."
North Callaway's lone score came on a trick play in the first quarter when wide receiver Dawson Wright looked as if he was going to run a reverse, but instead threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Cody Cash. When the pass on the two point conversion attempt by quartreback Jadon Henry fell incomplete, that gave the T-Birds their only lead of the evening at 6-0.
In the second South Callaway signal caller Peyton Leeper made one of his two big touchdown runs of the night, this one coming from 43 yards out. His next big sprint didn't come until the fourth and went for 29 yards and essentially put the game away for the Bulldogs. North Callaway certainly didn't help itself by only charting one first down in the second half.
Taking charge from the backfield for the T-Birds was Jordan Delashmutt with 13 carries for 71 yards, a cause Henry tried to support by completing 5-of-19 passes for 66 yards and two interceptions. Wright also came through with two catches for 42 yards and Cash had three receptions for 49 yards and a score.
But, in addition to handling the major responsibilities, these same players also tried to step up and come through anywhere else they might be needed. This included Delashmutt punting three times for 109 yards and Wright returned two kickoffs for 33 yards.
North Callaway ends the season with a record of 7-4 overall.
South Callaway, 10-1 overall, next plays in Jefferson City for the district championship on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. against Blair Oaks, which defeated Father Tolton last Friday 70-6.