The stakes were high for all involved in Saturday's Class 3 semfinal football game at Maryville, given only one team would advance to the Class 3 state championship game Friday at the Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis. Both teams were 13-0 and state-ranked, but in the end, the California Pintos were just outplayed by the Maryville Spoofhounds, who rumbled to a 42-7 win.
"You can't judge a season by the last game," California Head Coach Marty Albertson said. "We obviously ran into a very good football. Maryville has 20 seniors and this was their year. But our boys played hard the whole game and they have nothing to be ashamed of. They put the pride back into Pinto football."
It's been 13 years since the Pintos went this far in the season, so California was definitely due. In Nov. 1999, the Pintos made their third consecutive trip to the state championship game, where California lost to Aurora. The following year, 2000, California made it as far as Class 3 sectionals, where the Pintos lost to Salem.
At 13-1, the 2012 Pintos have set the bar high for California's "boys of fall" and the seasons to come.
"We went a long way," Albertson said. "Our seniors have been great leaders. Hopefully our younger kids have seen the hard work it takes to get to the playoffs and will keep this program going like it is."
Missing in California's lineup at the state playoff game Saturday was senior running back Anthony Price, known for his big, breakout runs and TDs, who was injured during the district championship game against Centralia.
The semifinal game against Maryville saw the Spoofhounds score on all but four possessions, while the Pintos were held scoreless until their last drive of the game.
"Maryville is just a better team," California Assistant Coach Geary Labuary said. "But I hope our kids hold their heads high because we had a great season. There are times it just doesn't work out, and this was one of those times for us."
The Spoofhounds ended their second drive with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Baker to Trent Nally with 5:45 left in the first quarter. Boston Schneider's kick scored the point after and Maryville led 7-0.
The Spoofhounds' next drive was capped with a 15-yard TD by Derek Stiens. Schneider scored the PAT and Maryville led 14-0 with 1:10 left in the first quarter.
With 7:33 remaining in the second quarter, Baker hit Treyton Burch with a 23-yard TD pass. Schneider came through with the PAT and Maryville led 21-0.
The Spoofhound's next possession ended with a 30-yard pass play from Baker to Brody McMahon for a TD. After Schneider's extra point, Maryville led 28-0 with 3:29 left in the first half.
The Spoofhounds scored once more before the half when Baker connected with McMahon again, this time with a 28-yard TD pass. Schneider scored the point after and Maryville led 35-0 at the half.
The Spoofhounds opened the third quarter with a 30-yard TD by Stiens. Schneider nailed the point after to put Maryville's final points on the board, 42-0.
With 4:24 left to play, the Pintos got into the scoring action with an 8-yard TD run by Seth Fairchild. Efrain Torres scored the point after and California trailed 42-7.
The Pintos had 31 carries for 101 yards and Jaden Barr completed 1 of 7 passes for 9 yards. Seth Fairchild led California rushing with four carries for a total of 47 yards.
Maryville had 38 carries for 104 yards, and Baker completed 14 of 18 passes for 217 yards.
"I'm just awfully proud of all of our kids," Albertson said. "They played very unselfish and with a lot of heart. They enjoyed playing the game of football, which is fun to coach."
California had 10 players who were named to the Class 3 All-District football teams by the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, while Coach Albertson was named Coach of the Year. Price, Dylan Albertson, Barr, Curtis Fulks, Alexx Lewis, Torres, Jerry Lutz, Garret Baquet and Logan Rowles were each named to the first team, and Jon Goans was named to the second team.
Maryville (14-0) will play John Burroughs for the Class 3 state championship at 1 p.m. Friday at the Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis.