Lutheran North Host Semis Against Defending Class 2 Champion Lamar

By Jim Wieners

Lamar, a town in Southwest Missouri just north of Joplin and Webb City, may be know by historians as the home to where Missouri’s only-ever President, Harry S. Truman was born but lately, especially to those who live in or near the town, it is the home of the defending back-to-back Class Two State Champion Tiger Football team.

This Saturday, Nov. 23, Lamar will be on a nearly 300-mile one-way trip to Lutheran High School North’s LaMothe Memorial Field foe the Class Two Semifinal game, which begins at 1:30. The winner faces Blair Oaks (located in the southern end of Jefferson City) or Lawson (just northeast of Kansas City) for the state title Nov. 29, 4:15 at the Edward Jones Dome (Downtown St. Louis). Lamar is no stranger to St. Louis, traveling mainly on Interstate 44 for the last two years, but this will be the first trip to Lutheran North.

While this is the fifth consecutive year Lamar has reached the semifinals (the Tigers have not been this far before 2009) it is the 10th time since 1981 that Lutheran North has played in the semifinals but it is the first time since 2002 for the Crusaders. Lutheran North is 6-3 in semifinal games but the Crusaders have not been to the state title game since winning the 1999 Class 2A State Title.

Lamar (13-1), during the season, lost only to Carl Junction 50-46 on Oct. 4 then demolished their way through District Four.

FIRST-YEAR LUTHERAN NORTH COACH NO STRANGER TO SEMIS — While it has been 11 years since Lutheran North has played in the State Semifinals first-year head coach Brian Simmons has coached two previous teams in the semifinals prior to coming to Lutheran North. Cardinal Ritter, a Class Two Semifinalist in 2005, won their way to the 2008 Class Three State Championship game before falling to Cassville, 31-7 right before Hazelwood East’s last-second 39-34 win over Raytown South for the Class Five title. Simmons would then leave Cardinal Ritter to coach at Hazelwood East and reached the 2011 Class Five Semifinals before losing 41-20 to eventual runner up Kirkwood, a state champion last year.

Simmons is only the third coach in Lutheran North history to guide the Crusaders to the semifinals. Long-time and now retired head coach and athletic director Mike Russell coached Lutheran North to Class 3A State Championships in 1981, 1988, 1989 and 1990 while finishing second to Warsaw in Class 2A in 1993. Jim Manion coached the Crusaders to the 2A title in 1999.

LUTHERAN NORTH WINS DISTRICT TWO, DEFEATS DISTRICT ONE CHAMP — As a number three seed Lutheran North (9-4) won District Two over Herculaneum 44-7 at Lutheran St. Charles County, 26-20 at previously unbeaten Brentwood and 49-8 over top-seeded Carnahan at Gateway STEM. Lutheran North, at LaMothe Field on Nov. 16, defeated District One Champion Caruthersville, 56-41.

Isaiah Holman, Justin Baker and Carl Thomas have been the leading scorers for Lutheran North on a nine-game winning streak after a 0-4 start. Holman scored five touchdowns against Herculaneum, three times each against Carnahan and Caruthersville and twice against Brentwood. Baker threw three touchdown passes against Brentwood and two each against Herculaneum, Carnahan and Caruthersville while Thomas scored thee touchdowns in the second quarter against Carnahan and two more against Caruthersville.

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