Sept. 20 Game Recap: Kirkwood 27, Rockwood Summit 13

The Kirkwood Pioneers varsity football team beat the Rockwood Summit Falcons 27-13 on Friday, Sept. 20. In Kirkwood’s previous three games, they had allowed a stunningly high 101 combined points, getting off to a disappointing (1-2) start. Following the game, however, the Pioneers’ hoped that their crucial win against the previously undefeated Falcons would propel them to future victories.   

The Pioneers scored the first points for the second week in a row off a 5-yard pass from Kannon Nesslage, junior, to Cole Johnson, junior, with 3:20 remaining in the first quarter. Summit, however, responded quickly, capping off the subsequent drive with a 12-yard rushing touchdown that tied the score heading into the second quarter. 

Throughout the second quarter, though, the Pioneers showcased their defensive abilities and versatility. KHS forced a Falcon safety just four seconds into the quarter, and helped pressure Summit kicker Jacob Morris, senior, into failing to convert a point-after-attempt (PAT) following a touchdown. After a 27-yard KHS field goal by David Bregande, senior, as the first half ended, the Pioneers trailed 13-12. Those 13 points ended up being the only points Summit could muster for the rest of the game, as the Pioneers’ defense prevented the Falcons from scoring throughout the entire second half. 

David Bregande kicks a field goal, making the score 13-12.

“We watched a lot of films and Coach Shelton told us what their tendencies were, and we came out tonight and executed,” Asher Weinberg, junior and defensive lineman, said.  “We showed that we’re a very physical group and [can] get stops for our offense.” 

The KHS offense struck in a flurry on two successive possessions towards the end of the third quarter, the latter of which brought the game to its eventual final score. Nesslage first connected with Jackson Fortner, junior, on a 20-yard passing touchdown with 5:32 remaining before connecting with Will Lee, junior, on a 17-yard touchdown with 3:19 left in the quarter. Lee’s evening also included a 57-yard punt in the second quarter (the fourth-longest in KHS history). Both players attribute their continued standout performances to hard work in practice.

“I treat practice like it’s a game [because I want to] practice how I play,” Lee said. “I take everything seriously, and I go 100% in everything I do.”

“[I always] work on the little things [during practice],” Fortner said. “The little things are going to make you great.”

Keeping the team from falling to 1-3 was, according to Fortner, a priority, and the defense proved that they have the ability to manufacture stops in clutch moments. In addition to forcing a safety and preventing the Falcons from scoring during the second half, Dajion Ewings, senior, recorded two sacks, Johnson and Fortner each recovered a fumble and the Pioneers kept Summit from converting for a first down on a fake punt attempt. Lee, who also plays linebacker, said the defensive success was due to preparation.

“Coach Shelton led and taught us everything we needed to know [for tonight’s game],” Lee said. “We were more focused, and we were all containing our gaps and doing our jobs.” 

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Another continued success was the team’s ability to gain offensive yards in chunks. According to Fortner, the electrifying aspect of a high-powered offense is important to energizing the team’s performance. 

“[We had] to make big plays to change [our] 1-2 record,” Fortner said. “I feel like when I had my big receptions it got the whole team pumped [up] and overall just [put us in] a good situation.” 

The Pioneers will host the Pattonville Pirates (2-2) on Friday, Sept. 27 at E.L. Lyons Memorial Stadium. The Pirates beat KHS 42-32 last season, so the desire to avenge that loss may provide the necessary energy to continue executing the coaches’ game plans and to continue improving defensively. 

“We should try to build off that win,” Weinberg said. “Next week against Pattonville is our senior night, and it’s going to be a very emotional, fun game. We’re looking forward to going out and giving it our all.”

*Full game stats courtesy of stlhighschoolsports.com (see box score and scoring summary here)