AFFTON — With the ball resting at the Affton 12-yard line, St. Mary’s senior quarterback Cam'Ron McCoy surveyed the defense.
Dragons coach Corey Bethany noticed something about the coverage.
“We had a concept on the opposite side of the play call, and I mentioned to the guys, ‘If Cam’s smart, he’ll see that back shoulder matchup on the opposite side,’” Bethany said.
McCoy saw it and delivered a perfect back shoulder touchdown pass to Timmy Muxo, signifying how the offense was in lock step with their coach the entire game.
McCoy threw for 219 yards and four touchdowns, three to sophomore Kevin Coleman as St. Mary’s defeated Affton 41-20 in a Class 4 District 2 semifinal on Friday.
The Dragons will face the winner of the other semifinal between McCluer and Hazelwood East in their first district championship appearance since 2013.
The Dragons pride themselves on their passing game, but they showed off their explosive running game on their opening drive. Sophomore DeShawn Fuller ran outside for runs of 10 and 17 yards, then bolted up the middle untouched for a 15-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
Fuller ran for 119 yards on 14 carries, leading a backfield that outgained the vaunted Affton ground attack 254-253.
“We’re getting continuity up front, and they’ve been playing together well,” Bethany said. “We’re learning to hit the holes. We’ve got young players and it took a little while to get (the running game) going.”
St. Mary’s again turned to the ground game on its next drive. Fuller gained 28 more yards and a Zyon Gayfield 13-yard carry placed the ball in the red zone. From there, Cam’Ron McCoy completed his first pass of the game, the back shoulder fade to Muxo along the left sideline for a 14-0 lead.
The St. Mary’s defense placed all 11 players at the point of attack and gave little room to the Affton running backs, allowing just 56 yards on 19 carries on the Cougars’ first three drives.
“The word of the week was “savages,” Coleman said. “We had to be aggressive, come out strong, stand our ground and be physical.”
Affton finally gained traction late in the second quarter, as Derrick Baker got loose on a 41-yard run to place the ball inside the 5-yard line. Cameron Hayes plowed his way into the end zone to put the Cougars on the board.
But McCoy ran the two-minute offense to perfection, finding Fuller on a screen for nine yards, Adrian Forbes on the sideline for 20, Javante Chandler over the middle for 27, and rolling out to find Kevin Coleman for a four-yard touchdown with just one second remaining in the half to take a 21-6 lead into the break.
“The last drive of every practice we do the two-minute drill, and I was well-prepared for that situation,” McCoy said.
McCoy and Coleman connected again to start the second half. Coleman out leaped two defenders along the left sideline, snagged a McCoy fastball and outraced the Cougars for an electric 77-yard touchdown.
“The whole time they were double-teaming me, putting a safety over top and manning up, so I told my quarterback to trust in me, throw it up and I’m going to make a play,” said Coleman, who had 108 receiving yards on the night.
The score was 35-6 after a powerful Achille Kpeya 13-yard run, but Affton would not give in. Quarterback Will Apple capped off a 10-play, 85-yard drive with a 3-yard run, and after an onside kick recovery, Calub Moore scampered 38 yards to cut the lead to 35-20.
But McCoy led the Dragons on their sixth touchdown drive in seven possessions, finding Coleman dragging across the end zone to set the final score.
Affton (9-2), which had its best season since it won 11 games in 2015, was paced by Calub Moore, who had 100 yards rushing and Derrick Baker with 93.
But it was the emergence of the St. Mary’s running game that took center stage and a more balanced offense seems just fine with the Dragons’ senior quarterback.
“It’s OK with me, as long as we’re winning,” McCoy said.