ODESSA, Mo. — Savannah coach Randy Schrader pulled his 13 seniors aside moments after addressing the Savages on the field for the final time in 2019.
Schrader and his coaching staff formed a circle around the senior class, which was in the midst of processing a 53-31 loss to Odessa in the Class 3 quarterfinals.
The group had an emotional discussion Saturday in Odessa, Missouri, reflecting on the journey it had been on since stepping onto the field for the first time as Savages in 2016.
The path began with a 1-9 season. It ended with a 10-3 record, one loss more than Savannah’s 12-2 finish in 2011. Senior quarterback Chase Spoonemore attributed the program’s transformation to one thing.
“That’s a credit to Coach Schraeder,” Spoonemore said. “He came in and established what he wanted to do. It put us in a great position to be successful.”
Schrader became coach of the Savages in 2017.They went 3-7 that season, only beating programs who had worse records while falling in the first round of districts.
Savannah made a jump in Scharader’s second year, finishing 8-4 while falling in the district championship game.
The Bulldogs shoved the ball down the Savages’ throats, rushing for 300 of its 489 offensive yards.
Senior running back Luke Malizzi led Odessa on the ground, recording 178 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.
“There’s nothing that we didn’t expect,” Schrader said. “They’re a downhill team, they have a good back, they’re really good up front.”
Two of Malizzi’s scores were in the second half, joining senior quarterback Josey Meierarend’s other two. The four were answered until Savannah junior running back ran the ball in from four yards out with 6:51 remaining in the game.
By that point, the Savages trailed 46-25.
“The kids kept playing, they kept fighting, they kept banging around in there,” Schrader said. “Once it was all said and done, it was a little bit too much for us.”
Savannah stayed close with Odessa through the majority of the first half, and had a 7-0 lead to start.
The score was courtesy of a 72-yard touchdown pass from Spoonemore to senior running back Noah Bodenhausen.
“It wasn’t really the route I was designed to run, but it turned into a scramble,” Bodenhausen said. “I got open, and then made a move on a kid to get into the endzone. It felt good to be ahead, it gave us some momentum.”
A blocked kick and failed two-point conversion started the slippery slope of the game shifting in Odessa’s direction.
At halftime, the Savages trailed 21-19. The Bulldogs broke through coming out of the locker room, scoring the four unanswered touchdowns.
“They were sending heavy pressure up the middle and it’s hard for our guys to block six guys,” Spoonemore said. “They had a great game plan to stop us. We had a great game plan too, they just broke through on a few good plays.”
The end to Schrader's third team as coach took it another step further, advancing past the district championship before falling to the 13-0 Bulldogs, but helping the program take yet another step.
“These seniors, when they started, coming off 1-9, three wins, eight wins, and they played in a quarterfinal game, that’s a real credit to those kids,” Schrader said. “It’s also a credit to the coaches that stayed with them.”