It’s Brentwood vs. Lutheran North for district title
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
When Brentwood High School football coach Keith Herring throws a water bottle during a game, it’s usually a bad thing. Once or twice a game he’ll throw a small water bottle on the ground if he sees something that really upsets him. You can’t see it from the stands, but his players know about it.
But on Friday night at BHS, as the final seconds ticked off of the Eagles’ Class 2 District 5 semifinal game with Lutheran St. Charles, Herring threw the bottle high into the air as he ran onto the field to congratulate his players. His team had just beaten the Cougars 46-0 to advance to the Nov. 6 district title game with Lutheran North.
“I don’t think I’ve seen him throw the water bottle for joy my entire football career here,” junior Justin Shipley later said with a grin. “He only throws it when he’s mad.”
But this time Herring was full of joy. His team is in the district championship for the first time since they won it in 2011. BHS has lost in the semifinals each of the past three years. And they manhandled a good team to get where they are. Fourth-seeded Lutheran St. Charles rose to 7-3 in beating third-seeded Trinity Catholic to reach the semifinal.
“We’ve struggled with this second-round game the last few years,” Herring said. “We knew we had to get over this hurdle. The kids kind of had a chip on their shoulders, thinking, ‘We’ve got some stuff to prove tonight.’”
Said Shipley, “We came into this game looking to show that we were made of something, to show that we’re not just the same old Brentwood team we’ve been the past few years. We definitely showed that by beating them 46 to nothing.”
Eagles in sweet 16
Brentwood is one of 16 teams remaining in the Class 2 state playoffs. If the Eagles beat Lutheran North on Friday they will be in the quarterfinals, playing the winner of the Nov. 6 District 6 championship between top-seeded Palmyra (9-2) and Clark County (8-3).
Keys to winning
The Eagles beat Lutheran St. Charles by running up a 33-0 halftime lead that forced the Cougars to pass, then shutting down the pass with seven quarterback sacks and two interceptions.
“They got tired because we kept putting pressure on them,” said defensive end Brian Hutton, whose two sacks raised his season total to 19, the best in the St. Louis area.
They also won with offensive versatility. When at first Lutheran slowed down Brentwood’s running game, offensive coordinator Robert Findley started calling passes. By halftime quarterback Skylar Sappington had passed four times to tight end Justice Harris for three touchdowns and 146 yards.
“They wanted to stop the run at all costs,” said Herring. “They were committing 11 guys to the run. Coach Findley saw it and went after them.”
The successful passing then seemed to open up the running game. Two offensive plays after Harris’s third TD catch, Clay ran 69 yards for a score. Clay ended up with 231 yards.
“We just kept going at them and finally broke a couple of long plays,” said lineman Demetrius Graves.
“They just kept playing the run,” said Sappington. “Every time I get asked why the pass works, I say it’s because we have great running backs.”
Cougars prepared for run
At first it looked like business as usual for Brentwood, as it scored within four plays on its opening drive then forced Lutheran to punt. But the Cougars responded with a defensive stand of their own, then evenly mixed pass and run to move the ball 54 yards to the BHS 19. With confidence they went for it on fourth and 9 but Kaylon Jenkins provided tight pass coverage and the ball fell incomplete.
Brentwood responded with an 81-yard touchdown drive that revealed two things. First, the Cougars came prepared to stop Jacob Clay, who netted minus-1 yard on the drive and was stopped short of the goal line on his 2-point conversion attempt.
“They were just loading the box,” said Clay.
Sappington to Harris
But the second thing the drive revealed was that the Cougars did not come prepared to stop Justice Harris. After two running plays, Skylar Sappington’s pass found Harris open in the secondary for a 34-yard gain. Two plays later Harris was open again and he caught Sappington’s pass over his shoulder and raced 43 yards for a 12-0 lead late in the first quarter.
But the Cougars were still alive. On their next possession, running back Cameron Glenn broke through the left side and ran 55 yards to the end zone. One official signaled a touchdown but back near the line of scrimmage a penalty flag had been thrown for holding.
Two plays later Jacob Clay intercepted a Brad Williams pass and returned it 26 yards to midfield. Clay and Jenkins took turns carrying the ball to the Lutheran 30 before Sappington once again passed to a wide open Harris to make it 18-0.
The Cougars would never again get closer to the goal line than the BHS 28. Their rushing game stalled when their star running back Bryce French started seeing limited time. Their passing game stopped clicking as Brentwood’s pass rush heated up — Hutton, Joe Clay, Demetrius Graves and Rob Bax combined for seven sacks. The Clay brothers, Joe and Jacob, each made an interception.
“Their No. 28 [French] was banged up,” said Herring. “He hurt his ankle last week a little bit. We were at the game and saw it – they were wrapping him. Then against us he wasn’t going through pregame that much.”
Lutheran continued to key on Jacob Clay in the second quarter, holding him to 17 yards on five carries during one drive. But Sappington once again found Harris open for a 39-yard TD reception to make it 25-0. Harris said his strong connection with fellow junior Sappington began developing in middle school when the two started tossing around a football in gym class.
“Everything started back in eighth grade,” said Harris. “We had a chemistry with football.”
Perhaps shell-shocked by the passing attack, the Cougars took their eyes off Jacob Clay for one play and he ran 69 yards for a 33-0 lead before halftime.
Lutheran ended up stopping neither the run nor the pass. Behind 326 rushing yards from Clay and Jenkins combined, and 146 receiving yards from Harris, BHS racked up 517 yards of offense.
“We haven’t played in two weeks and we were hungry for a win,” said senior Sam Tilton, referring to Brentwood not playing the previous week because of a bye. “Tayveon [Brown] said before the game that we haven’t eaten in two weeks and we don’t want to starve tonight.”
Clay needs 4 TDs to tie Ball
Senior running back Jacob Clay scored two touchdowns, raising his career total to 103 and creeping closer to the St. Louis area’s all-time leader Montee Ball, who scored 107 for Timberland from 2006-09.
Clay, Hutton, Sappington still lead St. Louis
BHS individuals lead all of St. Louis in scoring, quarterback sacks and passing efficiency. Jacob Clay has scored 238 points, 22 ahead of Cody Schrader of Lutheran South, whose season ended on Friday. Brian Hutton’s 19 sacks are tied with Donnell Sharp of Cardinal Ritter and Lamont Green of Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s season is over. Skylar Sappington’s passing efficiency of 209 is 46 points ahead of Blake Charlton of CBC.
Lutheran SC (7-4): 00-00-00-00 — 00
Brentwood (10-0): 12-21-06-07 — 46
First-quarter scoring, key plays
Brentwood: Kaylon Jenkins 36-yard run; kick failed
Score: 6-0, 10:51
Key plays: Runs of 16 yards by Jacob Clay and 12 yards by Jenkins
Brentwood: Justice Harris 43-yard pass from Skylar Sappington; run failed
Score: 12-0, 1:19
Key plays: On Lutheran’s previous drive, Jenkins’s tight pass coverage on fourth and 9; Harris’s 34-yard pass completion from Sappington
Second-quarter scoring, key plays
Brentwood: Justice Harris 30-yard pass from Sappington; Rob Bax kick
Score: 19-0, 8:40
Key plays: Jacob Clay’s interception on Lutheran’s previous possession, and his 9-yard pass reception from Sappington on fourth and 6
Brentwood: Harris 39-yard pass from Sappington; Bax kick
Score: 26-0, 4:29
Key plays: Jacob Clay’s penalty-aided 17-yard gain on fourth and 1
Brentwood: Jacob Clay 69-yard run; Bax kick
Score: 33-0, 1:16
Key plays: On third and 19 on Lutheran’s previous possession, a gang tackle for a 5-yard loss by Stephen Suntrup, Demetrius Graves and Sappington
Third-quarter scoring, key plays
Brentwood: Jacob Clay 74-yard run; kick failed
Score: 39-0, 9:29
Key plays: Joe Clay’s interception on Lutheran’s previous possession
Fourth-quarter scoring, key plays
Brentwood: Kaylon Jenkins 13-yard run; Bax kick
Score: 46-0, 11:49
Key plays: Jenkins’s 18-yard run and 11-yard reception on a pass from Sappington; Jacob Clay’s runs of 12 and 11 yards.
Brentwood statistical leaders vs. Lutheran St. Charles
Rushing: Jacob Clay 16-231, Kaylon Jenkins 10-95, Tayveon Brown 3-15, Rob Bax 4-7.
Passing: Skylar Sappington 6 for 9, 164 yards, 3 TDs, no interceptions.
Receiving: Justice Harris 4-146, Jenkins 1-9, Jacob Clay 1-9.
Kickoff returns: Jenkins 1-19.
Interceptions: Joe Clay 1, Jacob Clay 1.
Sacks: Joe Clay 2, Brian Hutton 2, Demetrius Graves 2, Bax 1.
Tackles/assists: Joe Clay 15, Corey Carroll 9, Hutton 8, Jacob Clay 8, Bax 8, Stephen Suntrup Jr. 8, Harris 8, Sappington 7, Graves 6, Jenkins 4, Brown 4, Luke Tilton 4, Jordon Tate 3, Daniel Neal 2, David Camp 2, DeAndre Boykin 1, Courtland Hill 1, Buddy Karsten 1, Ricky McQuay 1.
Brentwood’s St. Louis area stat leaders as of Nov. 1
Jacob Clay: 1st, scoring; 3rd, total yards; 4th, rushing yards
Skylar Sappington: 1st, passing efficiency; 7th, punting average; 19th, fumble recoveries
Brian Hutton: 1st, QB sacks; 3rd, fumble recoveries
Kaylon Jenkins: 4th, kickoff return average; 10th, interceptions; 17th, punt return average
Justice Harris: 10th, interceptions; 16th, return yards; 19th, fumble recoveries; 23rd, kickoff return average
Joe Clay: 16th, total tackles/assists; 17th, assists
Demetrius Graves: 19th, fumble recoveries
Brentwood’s 2015 schedule (10-0)
Beat Crystal City 58-6
Beat JFK 54-18
Beat Sumner 55-6
Beat Orchard Farm 39-7
Beat Cuba 53-0
Beat Principia 52-0
Beat Lift for Life 60-12
Beat Liberty-Wentzville 53-8
Beat Cleveland NJROTC 57-0
Semifinal: beat Lutheran St. Charles 46-0
Final: 7 p.m. Nov. 6 vs. Lutheran North in Brentwood
Quarterfinal: Nov. 14
Semifinal: Nov. 21
Final: 4:15 p.m. Nov. 27
Lutheran North 2015 schedule (7-4)
Lost to Clayton 29-21
Lost to SLUH 48-13
Lost to Westminster 35-6
Beat Priory 50-0
Lost to John Burroughs 53-12
Beat Lutheran South 72-65
Beat MICDS 33-21
Beat Trinity 40-14
Beat St. Mary’s 69-19
Beat Northwest Academy 72-0
Beat Hermann 56-22