Football Panthers win district championship

Mehlville will face SLUH Friday night

By STEPHEN GLOVER

The Mehlville Senior High School football team wrapped up the Class 6, District 1 championship Friday night with a convincing 48-7 win over Northwest.

The win not only moved the Panthers (7-3, 6-1 Suburban West) into the Class 6 quarterfinal game against St. Louis University High, but it also marked head coach Gary Heyde’s 200th career victory.

“Oh, it’s just a number,” Heyde told the Call. “It’s a reflection of what the program’s done over the past 26 years. I think it’s more of a reflection of the assistant coaches and the players.”

The Mehlville head coach actually was more concerned with keeping the team’s momentum after winning seven of its last eight games, including a five-game winning streak.

“We just wanted to keep the momentum going,” Heyde said. “We wanted to play well and we did.”

Mehlville jumped out to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when quarterback Kevin Mahler connected with running back Travis Shores on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5:56 left in the quarter. Shores finished the evening with three receptions for 44 yards while also carrying the ball six times for 30 yards.

“Travis is a real versatile player,” Heyde said. “He scored on a bubble screen where he came out of the backfield. He does a really good job in the passing game as well as running the ball.”

Mehlville extended its lead to 14-0 when Mahler connected with Alexis Reedus on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 3:17 to go in the first quarter. Reedus, who started playing the wide receiver position this season, had one reception for 34 yards and the one touchdown.

“Alexis scored on a screen pass where we had good blocking downfield,” Heyde said. “He executed the play real well.”

Northwest trimmed the Panthers’ lead by seven points when Nick Fisher connected with Jake Miers on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 11:11 to go in the second quarter.

But Mehlville senior running back Rashad Wilson scored on a seven-yard touchdown run with 7:22 left in the first half. Wilson scored again with 1:27 left in the half on a 16-yard touchdown run. He finished the evening with a 132-yard performance on 13 carries along with the two touchdowns.

“Rashad had a good game,” Heyde said. “Lot of his yards were one sweeps, and he ran the ball and had some good moves.”

Mehlville’s Joel Fieseler also punished the Lions in the running game as he scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 4:34 to play in the third quarter. The junior running back carried the ball 17 times for 132 yards rushing and leads the Panthers with 728 yards rushing this season.

“Joel’s been running hard, and our offensive line has been doing a really good job,” Heyde said. “We’re getting some good production out of the running game.”

Mahler extended Mehlville’s lead to 41-7 when he scored on a six-yard touchdown run with 11:13 to play in the fourth quarter. The senior running back finished the evening with four completed passes on 10 attempts for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Mahler also carried the ball three times for six yards rushing.

Mehlville put in its reserves during the final minutes of the game, but that didn’t keep Byron Puckett from reaching the end zone. Puckett scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 3:59 to play in the game.

Puckett carried the ball two times for 18 yards and the one touchdown. The junior running back racked up 77 yards rushing and two touchdowns this season.

The Panthers are back in action at 7 p.m. Friday, when they travel to St. Louis University High for the Class 6 quarterfinal. SLUH (7-3, 2-2 Metro Catholic) advanced to the playoffs by winning the District 2 championship with a 42-35 win over Vianney.

“SLUH’s playing pretty good right now,” Heyde said. “They run a lot of different formations, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. We just need to keep playing good defense and keep doing what we’ve been doing on offense.”