T-Birds have easy time with Colonels, return to postseason

The North Callaway Thunderbirds acted swifty in pushing their way back into the postseason.

North Callaway preyed on eight Missouri Military Academy turnovers, coming up with a pair of defensive touchdowns, and the Thunderbirds put up all of their scoring in the first half Friday night in coasting past the Colonels 55-0 in a Class 3, District 6 rampage.

Scoring on each of its first four possessions, North Callaway picked up its third win in a row while improving to 6-3 on the season and 2-0 in District 6. Coupled with Southern Boone's 50-33 victory over Fulton (0-9, 0-2) in Friday night's other District 6 matchup, the Thunderbirds and Eagles (6-3, 2-0) will both move on to the state playoffs.

North Callaway will return to the postseason for the first time since 2004, when it was a Class 2 school. Meanwhile, Southern Boone will be making its first-ever playoff appearance in the program's seven-year history.

The only matter left to decide is the District 6 champion, which will be determined this Thursday night when the Thunderbirds travel to Ashland to square off against the Eagles.

"We're very happy to be in the district championship game," North Callaway head coach Mike Emmons said. "Southern Boone is a team that can knock you in the face; they come right at you, so we'll have to be ready.

"We're excited about the opportunity."

The Thunderbirds' defense smothered MMA (0-8, 0-2) on Friday night, limiting the Colonels to just 39 total yards -- all rushing. North Callaway also returned two of four interceptions for scores.

Senior linebacker Jacob Henricks picked off an MMA pass and had to go just three yards for the touchdown when the Colonels attempted a fake punt out of their own end zone with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first quarter.

Junior defensive back Grant Hague then returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown with 10:41 to go in the first half, putting the Thunderbirds up 49-0.

Offensively, North Callaway senior quarterback Tylar Walker -- in limited play -- was 3-of-4 passing for 38 yards and a pair of scores.

Walker lobbed an 8-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jared Graves to initiate the Thunderbirds' scoring at the 11:36 mark of the first quarter. He then extended North Callaway's advantage to 35-0 when he found senior tight end Jacob Stafford on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 3:19 remaining in the quarter.

Senior backup quarterback Sean Noble completed his only pass attempt, but it went for a 19-yard touchdown to Graves with 11:43 to play in the first half.

The Thunderbirds -- powered by junior wingback Ty Webster -- piled up 221 yards rushing. Webster finished with a game-high 92 yards on just four carries and had a 14-yard touchdown run with 4:00 to go in the first quarter.

Henricks, from his running back position, added a 4-yard touchdown run at the 7:30 mark of the first quarter.

North Callaway also produced a pair of scores with its kicking game. Senior Andrew Attebery booted a 34-yard field goal with 9:42 left in the second quarter and senior Daniel Hackenberg -- a foreign-exchange student from Germany -- hit a 35-yarder with 5:35 remaining to top off the scoring.

"We set some goals that we wanted to do before halftime, and we reached them all," Emmons said.

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