September 22, 2011

State Playoff Team From 1991 to be Honored at Halftime of Homecoming

After starting the season 1-6, including being shutout in four of those loses, making the state football playoffs was one of the farthest things from the minds of most Scotland County followers of the 1991 team.

Twenty years later, members of the team will be honored during a special ceremony at halftime of Friday night's homecoming football game, to commemorate their remarkable run to the state quarterfinals to be one of the final eight Class 1A teams standing.

The team opened the 1991 season with a 19-9 loss to Palmyra. The Tigers failed to reach the end zone in the next three contests, falling to South Shelby, Brookfield and Putnam County before bringing home a 22-0 homecoming win over Schuyler County.

That appeared like it might be the highlight of the season for first year coaches Dave Shalley and Brent Bondurant, as the team fell to Knox County and Clark County the following two weeks as the team's record dipped to 1-6.

"We had the week off after the loss to Clark," said Coach Shalley, now superintendent at SCR-I. "So Brent and I used the time to go scout North Shelby and Milan, our two upcoming district opponents."

During this time, a plan was hatched for a total overhaul of the SCR-I offense.

The new game plan wasn't fully unveiled versus North Shelby, in large part due to weather constraints.

"We only opened up the offense for a couple of plays versus the Raiders, but it was enough to post a 7-6 win," Shalley said.

Despite the cold, snow and ice that awaited them in Milan on the regular season finale, the Tigers stuck to the new game plan that unleashed and therefore unseen air attack featuring senior quarterback Pat Garrett and a spread offense.

"I'm pretty sure we caught Milan off guard," said assistant coach Brent Bondurant. "I know we surprised Milan, but I think we surprised ourselves too with how effective the passing game had become overnight."

Scotland County racked up seven touchdowns to dispatch the Wildcats by a final margin of 48-20. The points explosion surpassed Scotland County's scoring totals for the team's eight previous games combined.

"When we got to Milan, we just went all out," Shalley said. "We hadn't scored 48 points all year."

The performance was enough to earn Garrett a place in the Missouri State High School Athletics Association (MSHSAA) record book for several years for the most pass attempts, completions and yardage.

Senior Jason Partin had a huge game against Milan, hauling in four TDs. Garrett's other targets included Jason McClintic, Matt Whitaker, Keith Davis and Jim Long. The offensive line, that provided the protection for the air assault, featured all-state performer Jason Emel.

But the Tigers weren't done there. The squad fed off a tidal wave of community support to springboard into the state playoffs.

"In all my years with the program, I think that was the most excited I have ever seen Scotland County fans about our football team," Shalley said. "It seemed like the entire town came out to send us off."

The momentum carried over to the field in Fayette, where SCR-I grounded the Falcons 34-20 behind the newfound air attack.

Scotland County hosted Santa Fe in the quarterfinals in a contest that went the distance before Scotland County's unexpected run came to an end in a 34-20 defeat.

"We took a team that only had 27 players and turned around a season that got off to a tough start," said Shalley. "We made plenty of memories for everyone involved with that season."

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