The Vashon Wolverines had hoped, and planned, to be playing the Cape Girardeau Central Indians for the second time this season tonight (Nov.13). But instead that right will go to the Affton Cougars who ended Vashon’s season last Friday in convincing manner.
The last of the Public High League playoff teams, the Vashon Wolverines didn’t plan to go down without a fight in the Missouri Class 4 football playoffs last weekend. It’s just unfortunate their season-ending performance was marred more by transgressions of misconduct, rather than game performance, as the Wolverines (8-4) fell to the host Cougars (10-1) 36-12.
In a game laden with misconduct and personal foul penalties, Affton jumped out to an insurmountable 24-0 halftime lead and never looked back in killing Vashon’s deep postseason aspirations. But three game ejections and a plethora of penalties and skirmishes overshadowed the playoff game itself.
But both Affton coach Dan Oliver and Vashon coach Reginald Ferguson said they saw things escalating in the game and only hoped the officials could diffuse it in time. Such was not the case. Well before complete order was restored in the second half, Vashon’s twins Charvon and Charvez Lewis had been ejected and Affton lineman Mitch Beal was ejected in a separate incident.
“I think something could have been done differently earlier in the game to get a better handle on the issue,” said Oliver. “It was one of those unfortunate things where neither team or school was looking its best in the end.”
Charvon Lewis’ infraction was probably the more serious, as he bumped an official who had ruled Lewis out of bounds inside the 10-yard line on a run in which Lewis believed he scored. But after the penalty and subsequent penalties by other Vashon players on the possession, the Wolverines never saw the end zone on that drive.Eventually Charvez Lewis joined his brother out of the game by getting thrown out for kicking and fighting.
“I think Charvon got frustrated because he thought he had scored, even though he knew he was wrong for reacting like that,” explained Ferguson. “I don’t know what Charvez was thinking later. They know they have to control themselves much better than that.”
To that end , Ferguson and his staff addressed the issue of poor sportsmanship and behavior when lecturing the team on the field immediately after the game. In particular, defensive assistant Jason Williams reminded the players of their responsibility to represent themselves, the program and the community with more integrity and awareness.
“Regardless of what is going on (with officiating or opposing players) you’ve always got to keep your composure because other people are watching,” said Williams, in conveying the thrust of his post-game message a couple of days ago. “I wanted to let them know they are out there representing more than yourself. You are representing yourself, your family, your parents, alumni, the school. You’ve got to show more restraint.”
Once the Wolverines fell behind 24-0 at the half, on a muddy field, the end of the season looked imminent. The Cougars opened the scoring on a blocked punt that was scooped up by Brett Paglush and ran in 45 yards for a score in the first quarter. Then they tacked on three more scores in the second frame on a 24-ayrd field goal by John Rolwes, a 1-yard run by Jordan Siegel and a 11-yard touchdown pass from DeVontae Burse to John Million. Meanwhile Vashon lost a chance to get on the scoreboard in the last two minutes of the half. After getting down to the Cougars 9-yard line, Charvon Lewis was gang-tackled by a host of Affton defenders and sent all the way back to the 25-yard line.
“They were switching up some things on us defensively that made it tough for us,” said Ferguson.
Vashon finally did break through the Affton defense twice in the second half and both instances were early in the quarters behind the Clifton Dickens-Anthony Durant passing combination. Dickens hit Durant with a 17-yard scoring strike with 10:56 remaining in the third quarter and with a 20-yard touchdown reception with 11:24 left in the fourth quarter. However, Affton was able to counter both times: Burse scored on a 1-yard run in the third and he connected with Paglush with an 11-yard touchdown toss in the fourth quarter.
If their was a difference-maker in the game, it was unquestionably Burse, Affton’s all-purpose operator, who rushed for 86 yards on 12 carries and passed for another 97 yards and two touchdowns.But beyond that, Burse’s mere presence and his threat to run helped open the lanes for fellow backs Jordan Siegel, who rushed for 88 yards on 17 carries and Trevor Steifvater, who netted 83 yards on 10 carries. Suffice to say, Oliver definitely extolls Burse’s value to the team and program.
“He (Burse) is the guy that makes us go,” said Oliver of the 5-8, 165-pound senior dynamo. “He has thrown for over 1,300 yards, 30 touchdowns and only four picks. He is a two-time player of the year for our conference. He has three school records passing in a season, career and total offense.”
Furthermore Burse helped Affton (11-1) advanced to the next round while Vashon (8-4) and its star signal-caller Dickens will be home this weekend.
“We just didn’t play a good game and couldn’t get the ‘W’,” said a dejected Dickens as he walked off the field last Friday night.