O’FALLON — Smith-Cotton turned in a season finale that reflected the best and worst moments of a one-win campaign.

“There was a lot to forget,” said Smith-Cotton football head coach Charlie McFail.

The Tigers conceded 42 points to Ft. Zumwalt North in the first quarter of a 63-14 loss Friday at Robert L. Fisher Football Stadium in a Class 5, District 4 semifinal.

Panthers senior Izaiah Hartrup logged the first two score with a 30-yard rush on the third play from scrimmage. He and senior quarterback Cairo Payne set up the score with a 42-yard reception to start the contest.

All season, McFail cited a lack of experience among a host of first-year starters as a factor dogging both sides of the ball — and Ft. Zumwalt North punished S-C’s mistakes with authority.

“We never got them caught up to speed,” McFail said.

One play after S-C senior Brett Grupe fell short on a 4th-down try, Payne housed 40-yard keeper to make it 14-0. Hartrup returned the next Tigers punt 50 yards for a score, Payne scrambled for a 43-yarder and FZM senior Jalen Owens recovered a fumble on a strip sack at the 6:49 mark in Q1.

Panther junior Chris Futrell capped a six-score period with a 42-yard rush. Hartrup advanced a screen pass 58 yards for his third TD and, after a near pick-6 from junior Max Martin positioned FZM at the Smith-Cotton 6, senior Tim Nesslage secured a short TD reception to give the home team a 56-point advantage at halftime.

Losing the snap on a punt attempt in the end zone, Smith-Cotton trailed 63-0 as the Panthers fell on the loose ball.

S-C lost its first seven games en route to a district semifinals matchup with the top-ranked Class 5 team in the Missouri Media Rankings, a status FZN has maintained since the preseason poll. The Tigers (1-9) were beaten by at least 27 points in eight of nine losses. It is the first 1-9 season for Smith-Cotton since 1993.

Despite the miserable payoff in 2019, McFail said the Tigers are mere pieces away from relevance.

“It’s a lot closer than what people think. It’s a lot closer than what the kids think,” McFail said. “They don’t realize, it’s just one or two different things can make a huge difference in the outcome.”

S-C’s defense produced two takeaways. Tigers sophomore Kole Scott stripped the ball on a sack and Sedalia recovered a fumble with one minute remaining in the third quarter to start its first scoring drive.

Smith-Cotton senior Cameron FInley on an 11-yard TD rush and lit up the sideline for a 67-yard score in the closing minutes.

McFail said the outgoing seniors, who shared their tearful goodbyes postgame, produced a respectable body of work in four years.

“There’s a lot of good kids who put in a lot of hard work,” McFail said. “It’s hard, but they need to be proud of what they’ve done.”

The Panthers (10-0) are scheduled to host Battle (7-3) next week in St. Charles County.

Alex Agueros can be reached at sports@sedaliademocat.com or on Twitter @abagueros2.


Sports Editor

Alex Agueros is the sports editor for the Sedalia Democrat, covering games and sports features in Sedalia and Pettis County and surrounding areas. He can be reached at 660-530-0142 or on Twitter @abagueros2.

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