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Vanatta Takes 12-0 Central to Columbia-Rock Bridge In Semis

By Jim Wieners

It does not take long for a Hazelwood Central head football coach to take the Hawks to the state semifinal and Van Vanatta becomes the seventh head coach in Hawk history to do so.

Vanatta joins a list of head coaches that got the Hawks to the semifinals including Bob Stouffer, current Lafayette assistant coach Stave Miller, John Hotfelder, current Central assistant coach Norm Ryan, current Central Athletic Director John Pukala and current Maplewood-Richmond Heights Athletic Director Rich Nixon, who is reportedly no longer coaching. All of those head coaches took the Hawks to state title games.

However for Vanatta to win his way to the state championship game at the Edward Jones Dome Thanksgiving Weekend he must first take the Hawks out of the St. Louis area Friday, Nov. 22, for a 120-mile one-way trip for a 7 p.m. Class Six Semifinal game. Central will play at Columbia-Rock Bridge which is just two to three miles south of the University of Missouri‘s Faurot Field on Providence Road. The winner faces Eureka or defending Class Six State Champion Blue Springs Nov. 29 at 7:30.

This will be only the second semifinal trip outside St. Louis for the Hawks, who won the 1977 Class 4A semifinal over Cape Girardeau Central, 13-7, at Southeast Missouri State University’s Houck Stadium. Hazelwood Central was away from the St. Louis area for three state final games losing 20-11 in 1977 in Jefferson City at Pete Adkins Stadium in Class 4A while in Class 5A the Hawks went to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium in 1986 and Faurot Field in 1987 losing each year to Kansas City Rockhurst.

The reason the game is played at Rock Bridge is determined by the number of home games played during districts and the team that played the fewer home games gets to host the semifinal round. Hazelwood Central (12-0) won Class Six, District Two as the top seed and all three games were played at Hawk Stadium in defeating Francis Howell North 41-7, DeSmet 35-28 and CBC 26-24. Rock Bridge (7-5) won Class Six, District Three as the number six seed winning all three games on the road — over Jefferson City 48-18 at Pete Adkins Stadium, 34-13 over Francis Howell Central in Cottleville and 28-19 over Fort Zumwalt West in O’Fallon.

While Hazelwood Central is 15-0 in state semifinal games Rock Bridge is 4-3 but the Bruins have not been to the semifinal since 2002, have not been the state title game since 1993 and have not won a state title since 1977. The Bruins two state titles (also won in 1975) and the 1992 second-place finish were played up Providence Road at Faurot Field while the 1993 second-place finish was played in the now Missouri State University Plaster Stadium, Springfield.

HAWKS CLINCH DISTRICT TWO TITLE BY DEFEATING TWO MCC TEAMS — While other Class Six games were played on Friday nights Hazelwood Central was spending their victories on Saturday afternoons because Hawk Stadium has no lights and the last two games were against Metro Catholic Conference teams. Hazelwood Central won a rematch Nov. 9 over DeSmet (the Hawks won 42-38 Sept. 6 at DeSmet) for the second time in four years, after DeSmet won twice last year, while ending the season for Metro Catholic Conference Champion CBC on Nov. 16 as the Hawks won their closest game this year.

Quarterback Mike Glass was in the Class Six final last year at Francis Howell High (runner up to Blue Springs), filling in as a starter for the injured Brett Siebenshuh, before transferring to Hazelwood Central. Glass ran for two touchdowns and passed for another in the Nov. 9 win against DeSmet while running for three touchdowns in the District Six title win over CBC. Kevin Batt scored twice Nov. 9 against DeSmet.


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