ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s been more than 2 months since the Kirkwood High School Football Team won the Missouri Class 6 State Championship, yet they are are still raising trophies.
The Pioneers were honored with the Max Preps Tour of Champions National Ranking trophy, presented by the Army National Guard, Tuesday night at halftime of a boys basketball game. They ended 2016 as the No. 1 ranked football team in the state of Missouri, by Max Preps, and were given the Minuteman Trophy.
“I don’t think you can ever beat holding up the state trophy,” says senior lineman Spencer Raymond. “But holding the Minuteman Trophy was also awesome, and humbling too.”
“Like every time we get honored and we go back to thinking about about state, you just feel that on the inside and that’s something that’ll never be taken away from you,” says senior lineman Tyresse Norris.
The Max preps ranking system takes into account the team’s quality wins against ranked opponents, margin of victory and strength of schedule, and gives higher status to playoffs wins.
The Pioneers rode a 13-game winning streak in 2016, but that was after losing the first game of the season, 22-14, to Chaminade. Kirkwood head coach Farrell Shelton admits, on that day, they weren’t the No. 1 team in the state.
“But they stayed with the process,” Farrell says. “And most important, they stayed together. Now did we have some great senior leadership, absolutely.”
One of those seniors was quarterback Reece Goddard, a recent commit to last year’s No. 15 team in college football – Western Michigan University. He says that first game sent a message to the team.
“It definitely sparked a fire,” Goddard says. “Because we weren’t the most talented roster in the state by any means, so we knew we had to improve.”
They finished the year ranked as the No. 84 team in the country by Max Preps, who compared them to 1,500 other high school teams across the nation. Farrell says after the award was announced, a few weeks after winning the state title, he looked at the other schools being honored by the Army National Guard.
“And you are seeing programs that are nationally recognized and always in the national polls,” Farrell says. “So you’re like ‘well for once we are up there, and it’s just a great honor.”
Awarding the Minuteman trophy to the Pioneers was Sgt. 1st Class John Lynch, who believes there is a similar camaraderie between the National Guard and football.
“They are identical actual,” Lynch says. “Everybody protects everybody else, in the military they call them battle buddies and on the field you call them teammates, the thought process is identical.”
Kirkwood will add this trophy to their already large collection, which includes the football team’s first Missouri State Championship trophy from 2012. That season the team was also honored as the Missouri Tour of Champions team by Max Preps and the Army National Guard.
But for Shelton, 2016 was his first title, so when he looks at the trophies next to each other, he’ll remember the moments after winning the 2016 first title.
“You see seniors who aren’t going to play college football, and they are sitting there crying,” Farrell says. “They are crying just with the elation of doing something special in there life. And I tell them, we’re champions and no one can ever take that away from us.”
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