HEADER: Eureka Secures No. 2 Seed in District as Playoffs Begin
On a night when Eureka alum and former Marine Cpl. Riley Baker was honored during a pregame ceremony, the Wildcats took care of business and locked up the No. 2 seed in their district with a 38-0 win over Hazelwood East to close out the regular season.
After numerous penalties on the offense last week against Lindbergh, Eureka head coach Farrell Shelton made adjustments. Juniors Austin Crump and Cole Reat took over at center and guard, while senior Connor McDonald made his first start of the season at tackle.
Matching up against a tough Hazelwood East defensive front, it took a few plays for the newly constructed offensive line to gel.
The first Eureka drive featured a five-yard loss by Brett Geisz, and a false start on third-and-12. The Wildcats were forced to punt. Geisz’s kick pinned the Spartans at their own 16.
Reat, who saw a lot of snaps on defense, bull rushed his way through the Spartans’ offensive line and strip-sacked quarterback Tyrone Johnson. The Wildcats recovered the ball at the Spartans 1 to set up a first-and-goal.
One play was all Eureka needed to get on the scoreboard. Geisz’s quarterback keeper from one yard out gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 8:58 to play in the first quarter.
Later, Geisz extended the lead with a 14-yard touchdown pass to slot man Bobby Saunders. The play was a designed bubble screen. Geisz allowed his linemen to get downfield before finding Saunders who took care of the rest.
Down 14-0 at the beginning of the second quarter, the Spartans had a chance to make it a one score affair, but Johnson threw his second interception of the game, this time to Daniel Shelton, who returned it to the Spartans 44.
The Wildcats weren’t able to capitalize on the good field position.
A scary moment happened with 2:31 remaining in the first half when senior defensive lineman Brendan Schulte dropped to the ground clutching his left knee. At first glance, the injury appeared serious. Schulte was helped off the field and didn’t put any weight on his left leg.
Shelton said Schulte suffered a “knee injury.”
“We’ll see, a lot of kids get a shock and awe a little bit when an injury occurs, so we’ll see,” he said. “We’ll evaluate it. This is [the] playoffs, so next man up.”
Schulte was on crutches after the game.
Eureka went into halftime sporting a 14-0 lead.
That’s when the offensive line clicked.
The Wildcats put up 24 points in the third quarter. Geisz added his second rushing touchdown of the game from two yards out. Later, he connected with Saunders for the second time to bust the game open.
“I thought they did a great job,” Shelton said of his offensive line.
Eureka forced another turnover 10 seconds into the fourth quarter when Brock Geisz pressured Johnson into throwing an ill-advised pass that fell into the hands of Mike Hill, who sprinted into the end zone for the pick six.
The win marked the second consecutive shutout and fourth of the season and assured Eureka of at least two home playoff games beginning Friday against Seckman (2-7).
“It’s huge,” Shelton said of getting home field advantage. “We had to make a statement and make sure that we were well on our way of insuring that.”