Brentwood eighth grader Al Slater runs just out of the grasp of a Vianney player. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Both teams end up .500 but pick up on bigger lessons

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

As the head coach of the Brentwood Junior Eagles sixth- and seventh-grade football team, Tom Magee and his assistants teach youngsters more than just technique and fundamentals.

“I frequently preach to them the importance of playing Brentwood football,” said Magee, who played at BHS until he graduated in 1996. “Do what we do. It’s pretty normal to look across to the other side of the field and see a team double our size in numbers.”

Coaches Tom Magee (left) and Ben Peters discuss Brentwood’s seventh-grade game against Collinsville at BHS. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Brentwood players should never be surprised by that, Magee said. In fact, they should expect it and prepare for it.

Both Magee’s team and the eighth-grade Junior Eagles coached by John Sappington finished up the 2014 season a few weeks ago with .500 records. Of the eight school districts the Junior Eagles faced, seven have at least twice the enrollment of Brentwood and five are triple the size. Two of them, Hazelwood Central and Collinsville, have eight times as many students as the BSD.

One way to handle that size disparity is to rely on your teammates, Magee said.

“The older kids as always continue to help our younger guys develop,” he said. “As we tell the team, you’re going to depend on each other for the next several years, not only on this team but as you go through the varsity program.”

Assistant coaches were Ben Peters, Fred ‘Hollywood’ Brown and Ethan Griesemer. Those working behind the scenes included organizer Lynn Mills, equipment manager Beth Clay, game announcer and clock operator Dan Williams, video operator Ken Jones and field liners Jeff Manestar, Anthony Harper and Adam Kobler.

Coach Fred Brown has a final word with the eighth-grade team before its game with Vianney. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Eighth grade

The high point of the eighth graders’ 4-4 season was beating Vianney for the first time in years, said Sappington. But the small roster was hard to overcome.

“Based on having only 14 players, three of them in their first year, a 4-4 record was outstanding and we were playing our best at the end,” he said. “I’m very proud of these kids. “

With his players moving up to high school next year, Sappington said he’ll miss “the nucleus,” a group that has been Junior Eagles since at least the sixth grade: Jordan Tate, Courtland Hill, Mason Mills, DeAndre Boykin, Anthony Pacheco, Quinn McClure, Daniel Doebber, Cameron Jenkins and Deion Wilson.

“They’re winners and have been a pleasure to coach,” Sappington said. “Coach [Keith] Herring [at BHS] will be getting some really good players next year.”

Sappington added, “We got key contributions from seventh graders Gregory Birkhead, who was our starting center, Chris Hill, Nathan Butler, Benji Jones, Tristan Jones, Garrett Harris and Sam Magee. They all filled in and did really well. Sixth grader D.J. Jones started and played the whole last game at tackle.”

Brentwood Eighth Graders, 2014 Final Results (4-4)
Preseason: lost to Ladue 28-6
Lost to MICDS 41-14
Beat Affton 31-20
Beat home schoolers 14-8
Lost to Affton 34-14
Lost to Westminster 22-12
Lost to Clopton 26-13
Beat Collinsville 22-6
Beat St. John Vianney 20-6

Jordan Tate slashes through Vianney’s secondary. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Seventh grade

Magee described the sixth- and seventh-grade team’s record of 3-3 as “decent.”

“We had a solid nucleus of experience mixed with a lot of first-year players who were put in big-time roles and did great,” he said. “The boys stuck their heads in every game. The team developed as a unit this year. Each player had both high and low moments on the field, which helps to build their character as young men.”

Brentwood Seventh Graders, 2014 Final Results (3-3)
Preseason: lost to Ladue 24-6
Lost to MICDS 26-6
Beat Affton 7-6
Beat Affton 34-0
Beat Westminster 18-7
Lost to Collinsville 18-0
Lost to Hazelwood Central 22-6

Chris Hill cuts left to get by a Collinsville defensive back in the seventh-grade game. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Eighth-grade game summaries

Preseason: Ladue 28, Brentwood 6
“We hadn’t had a lot of practices,” said Sappington. “There were some good passing hookups from Courtland Hill to Al Slater. If we had played Ladue late in the season I believe we would have done better.”

MICDS 41, Brentwood 14
Brentwood scored on Jordan Tate’s short run and Slater’s kickoff return. “Giving up big plays on defense hurt us,” said Sappington. “Except for that, it was pretty even. Hill hooked up with Slater and Tate for a few good completions.

Brentwood 31, Affton 20
Slater and Mason Mills scored on runs in the first half. Hill passed to Tate for a TD in the second half, followed by scoring runs by Mills and Tate.

Daniel Doebber (left) helps a teammate get his jersey over his shoulder pads before the eighth-grade Vianney game. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Brentwood 14, Home School 8
Brentwood scored on a long touchdown pass from Hill to Slater and a 15-yard scoring run by DeAndre Boykin. Daniel Doebber kicked an extra point. “The defense played really well, led by Quinn McClure, with about 20 tackles, and Courtland Hill,” said Sappington.

Affton 34, Brentwood 14
“We were pretty much dominated in every phase,” said Sappington, “except for a couple of touchdown strikes from Hill to Slater.”

Westminster 22, Brentwood 12
Brentwood’s points came on a 12-yard run by Tate, a two-yard run by Hill and an extra point by Doebber. “This was a hard fought and hard hitting game but I think we pretty much ran out of gas,” said Sappington. “It was a great defensive game by Tate and McClure.”

Eighth grader Corvon Johnson gets his equipment fastened before Vianney. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Clopton 26, Brentwood 13
Hill completed 13 of 20 passes for 245 yards, with many completions to Tate and Slater. Scoring was on a 30-yard pass from Hill to Slater and a 12-yard run by Tate. Said Sappington, “We played pretty well but just gave up a few big plays.”

Brentwood 22, Collinsville 6
The Junior Eagles scored on a 10-yard run by Boykin, a 25-yard pass from Hill to Slater, a one-yard run by Mills and a 60-yard pass from Hill to Tate. Doebber kicked two extra points. “This was a great all-around game with good play on offense and defense,” said Sappington. “Our offensive line dominated in the second half.”

Brentwood 20, St. John Vianney 6
Tate contributed 25 tackles and three touchdowns. He scored on a 20-yard run and passes of 60 and 10 yards from Hill. Doebber kicked two extra points. “This was our best all-around game and the first time the Junior Eagles have beaten Vianney that I know of,” said Sappington. “Tate had a monster game. Our offensive line dominated in the second half and Hill threw the ball great to end his middle school career.”

Junior Eagles do jumping jacks before facing Vianney’s eighth-grade team. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Seventh-grade game summaries

Preseason: Ladue 24, Brentwood 6
Brentwood scored on a 12-yard run by Chris Hill. Magee said he was also impressed with the running of Nathan Butler and Garrett Harris, and that John Danfort “was all over the field on defense.”

MICDS 26, Brentwood 6
Hill scored early on a 17-yard run. “Josh Danfort made some thrilling punt returns and John Danfort made some nice plays on defense,” said Magee. “We played a good game early but MICDS’s numbers caught up with us.”

John Danfort finds the legs of a Collinsville ball carrier in the seventh-grade game. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Brentwood 7, Affton 6
Brentwood tied the score late in the game on a 22-yard scamper by Hill. Reggie Jeffrey’s extra-point run won the game. Magee said, “We played stout D, led by Benji Jones at middle linebacker and Tristan Jones at nose guard.”

Brentwood 34, Affton 0
Hill had three touchdown runs and Josh Danfort scored twice — on a kickoff return and on a pass from Butler.

Garrett Harris looks for an opening against Collinsville in the seventh-grade game. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Brentwood 18, Westminster 7
Hill scored on a run in the first half but Brentwood trailed 7-6 at halftime. In the second half, we shut down Westminster with our defense, led by Butler, Harris and Birkhead, and Josh Danfort scored two TDs, on a kickoff return and on a 15-yard pass from Butler.

Collinsville 18, Brentwood 0
“We came out strong and put a good drive together with nice runs by Hill, Harris and Jeffrey, but we could not get anything else going,” said Magee. “Our defense did pretty well despite a vast size difference on the lines.”

Chris Hill catches a pass in heavy traffic against Collinsville in the seventh-grade game. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Hazelwood Central 22, Brentwood 6
Hill’s 21-yard touchdown run capped the Junior Eagles’ first drive. “We kept it close in the first half and into the third quarter but we were outmanned and ran out of gas,” said Magee. “It was really a great game against a school system that has over 4,000 students. It was a remarkable effort with some big hits by Benji Jones and Tristan Jones.”

8th grade vs. Vianney, photos by Steve Bowman

Deion Wilson wears sunglasses while warming up before the game.

Quarterback Courtland Hill counts teammates to see if anyone is missing before the game.

Majerus Sims hangs on to a teammate during a tackling drill before the game.

Nathan Butler and coach Ethan Griesemer are eager for the game to start.

Al Slater tries to turn the corner on a sweep.

Jordan Tate (left) and Al Slater celebrate a touchdown.

Brentwood linemen Josh Jeffreys (left) and Daniel Doebber fight off blockers.

Jordan Tate goes low to bring down a runner.

Al Slater intercepts a Vianney pass.

Al Slater escapes one last tackle on the way to the end zone.

7th grade vs. Collinsville, photos by Steve Bowman

Coach Ben Peters talks to players during a timeout.

Quarterback Nathan Butler scrambles out of the pocket.

A Collinsville ball carrier tries to escape D.J. Brown (left) and Thomas Suntrup.

Garrett Harris is in hot pursuit.

Nathan Butler (left) and Tristan Jones close in.

8th grade vs. Collinsville, photos by Steve Bowman

Mason Mills doesn’t get much room to run on this play.

Quarterback Courtland Hill calls the signals from behind his offensive line.

Al Slater stiff-arms a Collinsville defender.

Daniel Doebber kicks an extra point from Courtland Hill’s hold.

Cameron Jenkins tackles a ball carrier with Quinn McClure backing him up.

Quinn McClure grabs the jersey of an escaping ball carrier . . .

. . . and brings him down with a well executed tackle.