Mehlville to face Ritenour Friday night in must-win game

By STEPHEN GLOVER

The biggest game of the season for the Mehlville Senior High School football team is set Friday night.

After last week’s 38-24 loss at St. Louis University High, Mehlville (6-3, 6-1 Suburban West) is in a must-win situation against Ritenour (5-4, 4-3 Suburban North).

The Huskies defeated Lindbergh 34-31 in overtime last Friday to keep their hopes alive for a Class 6 playoff berth.

“Whoever wins our game is in,” Mehlville head coach Eric Meyer said. “It’s really kind of cut and dry now. Both teams control their own destiny.”

SLUH (7-2, 2-2 Metro Catholic) jumped out to a 7-0 lead when quarterback John Swanston connected with Mike Mayberger on a 56-yard pass with 1:09 left in the first quarter. Swanston completed 17 of 26 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns.

The Panthers trimmed SLUH’s lead to 7-6 on a 51-yard run by Tyrone Clark with 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Clark scored again to give Mehlville a 12-7 lead with 9:01 left in the second quarter. He finished the night with 13 carries for 73 yards and one of five passes for nine yards.

“Tyrone tried to make things happen and obviously he made some great plays,” Meyer said. “Ty played well on both offense and defense.”

Swanston recorded a 91-yard touchdown pass to Bill Weiss with 2:27 left in the second quarter. The point-after touchdown, or PAT, by Joe Schrick gave SLUH the 14-12 lead. But Mehlville regained the lead 15-14 on a 41-yard field goal by Aaron Alexander with 14 seconds left in the half.

“Anytime you go into halftime with the lead and on the road is huge,” Meyer said. “Sometimes it seems like the further we move the ball back, the better he kicks.”

The Panthers increased their lead to 18-14 with 6:21 left in the third quarter when Alexander hit a 29-yard field goal.

But just 12 seconds after Alexander’s se-cond field goal, SLUH’s Ronnie Wingo ripped the Mehlville defense for a 99-yard kickoff return to give the Junior Billikens a 21-18 lead after Schrick’s PAT.

Mehlville retook the lead for the second time when Christian Stewart scored on a 19-yard run with 5:52 left in the third quarter to give Mehlville a 24-21 advantage. He carried the ball 12 times for 68 yards.

“Christian had a good game running the ball,” Meyer said. “He does a real good job at running the ball on the inside.”

But Swanston once again pulled the Junior Billikens back into the lead 28-24 as he hit Griffin Lowry for an eight-yard pass with 3:18 left in the third quarter.

Swanston again tattooed Mehlville’s defense when he connected with Mayberger on a 14-yard pass with 11:09 remaining in the game to give SLUH a commanding 35-24 lead. The Junior Billikens poured a little salt into the wounds of the Mehlville defense when Schrick hit a 33-yard field goal with 6:47 left in the game.

The Panthers will play host to Ritenour at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Ritenour’s an athletic team that likes to spread the ball out,” Meyer said. “They’re a tough team that’s not going to back down to anyone because they’ve played a lot of tough teams this season.”