CHESTERFIELD — On its way to the Class 4 state championship last season, the Ladue defense was dominant, holding its opponents to seven points or fewer in 10 of its 15 games.
The Rams’ defense is still impenetrable - but the offense seems unstoppable.
Henry McIntosh completed 17 of 21 passes for 245 yards and four scores and the Ladue offense scored touchdowns on each of its first four possessions as the Rams secured their fourth consecutive Suburban Central-National League title on Friday with a convincing 36-7 victory over Parkway West.
Ladue (7-0, 4-0) won its 19th consecutive league game and has outscored its league opponents 148-14 this season.
The Rams defense forced a fumble on the Longhorns’ second play from scrimmage that Marzion Cosby scooped up to set up the offense inside the 30-yard-line. It was the start of a big half for Cosby and a miserable one for Parkway West.
“I didn’t expect him to fumble, but once the ball came out, I went to go get it and tried to take it to the house,” said Cosby, who celebrated his 17th birthday on Friday.
The Longhorns had a chance to stop Ladue on the Rams’ opening drive, but on fourth-and 6, McIntosh found Stewart Dove on a 12-yard slant to keep the drive alive. Gideon Boaten plowed into the end zone from 5 yards away to give Ladue a quick 7-0 lead.
Parkway West (5-2, 2-1) went backwards on its second drive and a short punt allowed Ladue to begin at the Longhorns 30 once again. After a 14-yard run by Jared Rhodes placed the ball at the 7-yard line, McIntosh fired a ball on a quick screen to Cosby, who tiptoed down the right sideline into the end zone.
“Any time you get the short field, that’s huge, especially early in the game and then to capitalize on it is important,” Ladue coach Mike Tarpey said.
The Rams showed they could mount long drives as well. Beginning from his own 30, McIntosh found Cosby on a deep corner route for 31 yards. Then, on the next play, he found Cosby on a post for a 19-yard score and a 20-0 lead.
“I was reading the safety,” Cosby said about his second touchdown grab. “He stayed on top, so I bent it in to the post.”
McIntosh directed a 76-yard drive the fourth time the offense got the ball and capped it off with a play-action, 39-yard deep post in the breadbasket of Mason Player for a 27-0 lead.
“The stats look good, but the play-calling was even better,” McIntosh said. “The coaches set us up and put us in great positions tonight.”
At the end of the half, Ladue had 14 first downs to Parkway West’s two and outgained the Longhorns 271-33.
McIntosh took the ball after the second half kickoff and hit five consecutive passes, the fifth was an 8-yard strike to Krishna Sivaramakrishnan, the sixth different pass receiver to catch a McIntosh pass. It made the lead 33-0, and sent McIntosh to an early exit.
The Rams scored touchdowns on five of the six drives when McIntosh was under center. Only the halftime buzzer kept him from going 6-for-6.
“We have people who stepped up this year in spots that we needed,” McIntosh said. “When it all clicks, it feels really good and that’s what we tried to show tonight.”
The defense lost its bid for a fourth shutout in seven games when Parkway West’s Ja’Marion Wayne caught a deflected pass in the front right corner of the end zone with less than three minutes remaining in the game.
Ladue increased its overall winning streak to 22 successive games and has now won 33 of its last 34 contents, losing only to Webb City in the 2017 state semifinal.
For many of those victories, the defense carried the day. This year, the offense is equally as impressive, having scored at least 36 points in five of seven contests.
“McIntosh is really confident,” Tarpey said. “Last year, he played great for us, but this year, he has such a command of the offense. When you have that kind of coach on the field, it makes a big difference.”