Nov. 28 Turkey Day Game Recap: Kirkwood 42, Webster Groves 28

Hayden Davidson, sports writer

Each year, many people in the Kirkwood and Webster communities wake up on Thanksgiving thankful for the upcoming Turkey Day Game. The seniors on both teams are thankful for the opportunity to play one last game in their high school football careers. But one specific group, Webster Groves’ defensive backs, is not thankful for one thing: the task of guarding Jay Maclin.

“Definitely the game of my life,” Maclin said.

Maclin, senior, crossed the goal line five times, with four receiving touchdowns and an interception return touchdown. He and quarterback Kannon Nesslage, junior, put on strong individual performances (197 receiving yards for Maclin and 271 passing yards and four touchdowns for Nesslage) for Kirkwood football’s biggest crowd of the year. KHS coaches entertained the crowd with a trick play, as linebacker and running back Cameron Macon, senior, completed a 51-yard touchdown pass to Maclin in the second quarter. Maclin and Will Lee, junior, both said the team went out with a bang to finish off the season.

Hayden Davidson
Linebacker/wide receiver Will Lee, junior

“My mindset throughout the game was just win,” Lee said. “We just had to execute. We had to do everything 10 times better than them, and then that’s all it came down to.”

Lee, a focal point of the Pioneers’ defense at outside linebacker, suffered a hamstring cramp in the second quarter and was sidelined for a portion of game time but returned later. Despite Lee’s brief absence, the whole KHS defense delivered timely defensive stops throughout the game, which Farrell Shelton, KHS varsity football head coach, said was the key to success for the Pioneers. Although Webster’s 28 points on the scoreboard don’t convey a strong defensive performance from the Pioneers, KHS came through with five forced turnovers (interceptions by Maclin, junior Ryland Irvin, and senior Jacque Neal, and two fumble recoveries by junior Tucker Bass).

KHS set the record for most points in a Turkey Day Game last year, winning 75-34 against a Webster team that did not win a game all season. This year, the Statesmen followed a different path, entering Turkey Day with a 5-5 record. The centerpiece of the team, running back Kameron Yancey, senior, poked holes through the Pioneers’ defense throughout the game, finishing with 146 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Other key Webster performances included 83 rushing yards, 102 kickoff return yards and six tackles from Maurion Clemons, senior, and 52 yards and a touchdown from star receiver Jacobie Banks, senior. Yancey brought the game to a 28-28 score heading into the fourth quarter, but two Maclin touchdowns sealed the win for the Pioneers.

Hayden Davidson
Defensive back/wide receiver Jacque Neal, senior

“[This is] what we wanted, a competitive game,” Macon said. “[In our] last football game, we wanted to go out on top and have a ton of fun doing it and compete, and I think we did just that. I wouldn’t want [my career] to end any other way. I’m satisfied with this being my last game just because it was such a fun one.”

Maclin will continue playing football at Mizzou next year, but many of the seniors played their last competitive football game. The 2019 KHS football roster carried 19 seniors.

“The best part was just all the moments with the seniors,” Bass said. “It was very emotional at halftime, very emotional in the locker room before the game. It was all about the seniors today, and I’m glad we won for them.”

Nesslage finished the season leading the St. Louis area in completions (215) and passing touchdowns (38) as well as second in the area in passing yards (3,274). This game, though, Kirkwood’s goal above all else was extending its Turkey Day win streak to seven games, the longest in the game’s history for either school.

“[We ended] definitely on a good note, bringing the Bell back,” Nesslage said. “[This was a] great way to end the season and a great way to keep momentum going into next year.”

 

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

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