The football Griffins are going back to state.
Coach Paul Day’s squad went on the road and defeated Carthage, 36-21, in the Class 5 semifinals on Saturday afternoon to earn a spot in the championship game this weekend.
The Griffins (10-3) will play Fort Osage at 7 p.m. Saturday at Faurot Field in Columbia, seeking to win their second Class 5 championship in three seasons.
“All the hard work they’ve put in, it gives us an opportunity to win the ultimate prize in terms of competition in football,” Day said. “I’m excited for our kids, our coaches have worked their tails off and our kids have had a great run.”
The Griffins were led by seniors Kyren Williams, Percy Mitchell, Fahreed Cheeks and Nate Thurman.
Williams accounted for four touchdowns. He rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns, threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Fahreed Cheeks and returned an interception 50 yards for another score. Mitchell rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown. Cheeks caught five passes for 117 yards. Thurman led the defense with nine tackles and one sack.
Williams has now accounted for 40 touchdowns this season. Mitchell has scored 20.
“(A friend) says any good team has a ‘Man Offense’ and that means you get the ball to your man at the most critical times and we have two with Percy and Kyren,” Day said. “We have two guys that can take a game over and can finish. Percy doesn’t get enough credit probably sometimes, but tonight there were plays that were blocked for three (yards) that went for seven. It keeps drives alive. He has just been exceptional for us like that all year. Then Kyren, you find a million different ways to get him the ball because he is special in every way.”
The Griffins rushed for 238 yards on 38 carries, an average of 6.3 yards per. They were able to keep the chains moving and control the clock.
“At the end of the day, both teams, even though both teams have close to 2,000 (yards) passing, both teams, everything comes off them running the football and if they can run the ball they can control the game and control the clock,” Day said. “I think at the end of the day we ran the football a little more consistently. Both teams were super-physical. I think we were able to run on our terms.”