Harrisonville wins Missouri Class 3 state championship

By COLE YOUNG, The Kansas City Star, 11-25-07

ST. LOUIS | If the Harrisonville football program isn’t a dynasty, then it is getting pretty close.

The Wildcats won their 41st straight game and their third straight Missouri Class 3 state title in a 49-14 drubbing of Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday afternoon.

It’s the fourth state title in five years for the Wildcats, 14-0, all under head coach Fred Bouchard.

“We don’t talk about those terms,â€? Bouchard said. “Whether we are a dynasty, that’s for you guys to figure out. Next year will be a whole new group of players and we’ll be back to the drawing board again.â€?

Bouchard may not be willing to admit his team is one that is revered across the state, but Rams coach Matt Irvin was.

“They are the model,â€? Irvin said. “Not just in Class 3, but around the state of what you want your program to be.â€?

The Rams’ offense was held to its lowest output and the defense gave up more points than any other game this season.

Harrisonville was electric from the start. The Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and weren’t challenged in the second half.

Leading the way was the one-two punch of quarterback Sean Ransburg and running back Derek Naida.

Ransburg ran for two touchdowns and 148 yards, while throwing for 123 yards and two more touchdowns.

Naida ran for three touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass from Ransburg. He finished the game with 150 yards rushing and 47 yards receiving.

“We clicked,â€? Ransburg said of he and Naida. “On some of those plays, we know where the other guy is at.â€?

In all, Harrisonville racked up 450 yards of offense, 327 on the ground.

The win was also a bit of redemption for Harrisonville — that is, if a program that has had this kind of success needs to be redeemed. Mary Institute, 12-1, handed Harrisonville its only Class 3 loss in the last 68 games, in the 2004 state finals.

In that game, Harrisonville surrendered a 25-point first half lead before losing in double overtime.

“I will never forget that moment,â€? Bouchard said. “It absolutely still sits in my craw… It probably will forever.â€?

There would be no comeback on Saturday.

Harrisonville tacked on 21 points in the second half to secure the running-clock victory.

It was a win that last November, Bouchard wasn’t so sure would come, especially after losing 29 seniors.

“Honestly, at this time last year, I had some real doubts whether we would be here,â€? Bouchard said. “Our players, they absolutely believe in one another. We never told them that they weren’t very good, and they wouldn’t have believed us anyway.â€?

Harrisonville won in a fashion that almost seemed routine.

“They’re all the same,â€? Ransburg said of the three titles he’s won in high school. “They all feel great. I guess this one is a little different because it’s my last year, but they are still all equally great.â€?

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