Ever since the advent of the Suburban Conference National Division, a re-make of the old Suburban West, that was introduced prior to the 2015 season, the Fox football team has loudly announced its supremacy.
Last Friday night’s 42-14 thumping at Northwest marked the fourth straight undefeated run for the Warriors in league play. Improving to 7-2 on the season, and with a first-round bye in districts this week, head coach Brent Tinker’s bunch now boasts a 16-0 four-year mark in the conference to go with the four consecutive championships.
And if you revert back to the former league set-up, Fox has a 22-2 mark over six seasons, finishing 3-1 the previous two years. That’s not something that’s lost on Tinker or his players, either.
“I think it says that we’re growing,” Tinker said. “And we keep trying to improve every year. We’re constantly attempting to solidify ourselves as a top team in our region, and we want to continue to grow and take care of business at home.”
Last week, though, the Warriors were able to take their show on the road to Cedar Hill and still come out unscathed in conference play.
Fox quarterback Brock Inman rushed for 138 yards on just eight carries, and running backs Luke Pisoni (8-105) and Carson Elwood (5-67) paced a ground game that gouged Northwest for 406 yards on 38 carries (an 11.33 average).
But the real story for Fox may have been junior back Chase Maxey, who only had 47 rushing yards, but accounted for three touchdowns.
The Warriors wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. After Jahaud Thompson returned the opening kick 35 yards, Inman got loose for a 62-yard touchdown run just twenty seconds in and he tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 Fox lead.
The Lions responded in fine fashion, though, as quarterback Trey Davis engineered an impressive 11-play drive, mixing in runs and throws, to get Northwest inside the Fox 10-yard line. But when Davis looked for Dylan Hografe, after scrambling out of the pocket, in the corner of the end zone, Thompson was there to pick it off. The Warriors went on a sustained drive that culminated in a short scoring run by Maxey with 1:09 left in the first quarter.
The Lions were stymied offensively in the second quarter and had to punt. On the first play after the exchange, Elwood ripped off a 35-yard run, and a facemask against the Lions gave Fox the ball at the Northwest 23-yard line. Inman then picked up 11 yards, and Thompson took it in from 12 yards out to give Fox a 21-0 lead with 10:47 remaining in the half.
Northwest got on the board with 5:54 left on a short touchdown run by Johnny Daffron, but the Warriors closed out the half on a 13-play drive that ended with a 10-yard run by Maxey with :39 left for a 28-7 lead at the break.
Jeffrey Hughes got that one back for Northwest with 6:36 left in the third on a short run. But it was Maxey again, on a misdirection play, with 1:52 to go in the quarter, on an 8-yard run for his third of the night. Fox closed out the scoring with 6:10 left in the game on a fourth-down touchdown pass from Inman to Jake Waters.
“I thought we improved as the game went on,” Tinker said. “I don’t think Chase knows how gifted he is, but he is extremely talented. And we had a lot of kids do more for us. Mike Merlenbach really grew in this game, Mason Petty played the most defense he’s ever played tonight and Waters made some big plays. I’m extremely proud of what they all did.”
“It really shows our dedication to the game,” Maxey said. “We’ve had trouble focusing at times, but the coaches have changed our mindset. Our front line (on offense) was bullying them all game, and that’s the thing that got our ground game to open up. I think we’ve gotten a heck of a lot better as the season has progressed, but focus is the key.”
Senior two-way lineman Austin Dearing said the win meant a lot to the seniors. Dearing has been a part of all four conference titles.
“We just stand together do our jobs and play our game,” Dearing said. “Now we’ve got a bye, so we just have to prepare for whoever we’ll have (in week two of districts) and be ready.”
For Northwest head coach Corey Toenjes, it’s another season of his team getting off to a hot start and then running into some buzz saws in the second half. Last season, the Lions roared out to a 3-0 start, only to finish at 5-5. They were 4-0 this time, but having lost four of their last five games, finished the regular season with a 5-4 record, and 2-2 in league play.
The third-year head coach did note that his Lions were able to gouge the Fox defense for 237 yards on the ground. Davis went 7-for-17 through the air for 79 yards and freshman Chase Viehland carried the ball 15 times for 68 yards. Daffron had 63 yards on nine carries. Jack Watson (4-48) and Hografe (3-31) accounted for all of Davis’s completions.
“The bad start was not ideal,” Toenjes said of the early Fox touchdown. “We were confident in our game plan, and we’ve had moments of success, but not enough. And we really only had three drives in the first half.
“As for the losses we’ve suffered, we play tougher teams in the second half of the season. Lafayette’s a seven-win team, Mehlville is 6-3, and against Hazelwood West, which is probably going to win eight games, we were winning the whole game and gave up a score in the last two minutes.”