On to the semifinals

Good sign: Helias' Garrett Buschjost rushed for 208 yards on Saturday.

Better sign: That's more yards than the Helias defense allowed.

Running the ball and playing defense --- that's a winning combination as old as the game itself.

The Crusaders jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half on their way to a 31-8 victory over the Clayton Greyhounds in the Class 4 quarterfinals on a warm, blustery day at Adkins Stadium.

On to the semifinals.

"This team deserves it," Helias coach Phil Pitts said. "These boys have worked hard since January; they've poured their hearts into this season since January.

"They wanted something out of it and they're getting something out of it. I couldn't be prouder of them."

Buschjost certainly had a day to be proud of. The junior ran right, ran left, ran up the middle --- a total of 36 carries, one of which produced a 13-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

"The kid has flat solidified our offense," Pitts said. "He has given us a true running threat to go along with our passing offense.

"For him to go out there and do that job today ---and for our offensive line to play the way they did --- it was a special day."

Also in the first half, Helias (9-4) received a 3-yard score Michael Tannehill and a 22-yard field goal by Anthony Woodruff to build the 17-point lead.

It then, however, got somewhat interesting in the third quarter.

An ugly offensive series by Helias helped lead to a safety and, after a long return on the ensuing free kick, set up a short 30-yard drive by Clayton (9-4).

That led to a 2-yard scoring run by Tyler Walker and it was 17-8 with 4:20 left in the third.

"They had a little bit of an answer," Pitts said. "They came out swinging and knocked us back a little bit."

The Crusaders swung back, however, and basically delivered the knockout blow --- a 13-play, 77-yard drive (all rushing attempts) that chewed up nearly five minutes off the clock.

A 10-yard pass from Wyatt Porter to Hale Hentges made it 24-8 with 7:41 left.

"That was a big drive," Pitts said. "We felt like if we went and scored on that drive, we liked our chances."

They did. And they should have.

A 5-yard run by Porter with 3:57 ended the scoring, while the Helias defense ended the game by surrendering only 197 total yards.

On this day, these Greyhounds didn't run very fast. Or far.

"Our defense should have shut them out; our offense is the reason they got their points," Pitts said. "They really went out against a good offense and shut them down.

"We knew we could win the game up front, we knew our guys were better than theirs, and that's what happened."

Now, the Crusaders return to place where it all started, at Harrisonville (11-2) in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Harrisonville won the season-opener 38-37 in overtime on Aug. 24.

"It was a great football game," Pitts said. "I think both teams have shored some things up defensively since we played that week.

"I'm excited about the rematch --- I'm looking forward to going there and settling one of our losses."

The season may have started in Harrisonville, but here's hoping --- and believing --- it won't end there.