The Knights swept their Class 2, District 7 Tournament to qualify
By Tyler Schneider
Since 2010, there has been just three seasons in which the Barstow boys soccer team hasn’t won a District title. In that span, they’ve claimed two state titles—in 2014 and 2018.
Coming off a three-game sweep in the Class 2, District 7 Tournament, the Knights of 2022 are 15-9 and looking to advance past the first round of the MSHSAA Class 2 State Tournament with a win over Excelsior Springs this coming Saturday, Nov. 12.
Seeded second behind Harrisonville in their district this year, longtime head coach Scott Huppe said his team was looking to earn the respect they felt they deserved in their bid to qualify for the Class 2 State Championship.
“We had tougher schedules and beat more teams with winning records than anybody in the district. Harrisonville played bigger schools, so [the committee] voted to seed them at #1. We felt we’d done enough to earn that spot, so we went out to earn some respect and it showed in our play,” Huppe said.
That it did, as Barstow came out and defeated Ewing Marion Kauffman, 3-1, to open their tournament play, Nov. 1, before clipping a surging Center High School Yellowjacket team, 1-0, Nov. 3, and then ultimately settling the score with a convincing 3-1 win over Harrisonville, Nov. 5.
The win marked a redemption arc of sorts for the Knights, who had been knocked out by Harrisonville in last year’s district final in double overtime. In this year’s rematch, Barstow came out swinging with two goals in six minutes and added another in the second half before giving up a late goal to the Wildcats near the end of the game.
“We gave a tremendous team defense effort in all three games, but we really followed the scouting report well. We’re really playing at the top of our game right now,” Huppe said.
Huppe avoids sharing team stats for the same reason he has a banner hung in the locker room that read, “THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM.” It’s all about the program.
With that understood, the 22nd year head coach lists two key seniors in George Colombo and Andrew Lang as instrumental pieces of their efforts this season, and postseason in particular.
“With their ability to get forward, [Colombo and Lang] are anchors at defense and center back. They work really well individually in shutting down teams, only giving up a couple of goals. They have us playing at a high level, being the leaders from the back here,” Huppe said—citing the fact that, when the pair were both on the field, they only allowed a single goal in all three games of District 7 play.
Looking ahead to Excelsior Springs (14-5), Huppe looks to find success by implementing those very same fundamentals that got the Knights there in the first place.
“It’s going to come down to us defending as well as we did in the last three games and executing offensively, when we get chances to score. We’ve done an off and on job of that all year long, but these last three games we’ve hit the spots and not really missed too many chances to score,” Huppe said.
The Knights’ sustained success has led them to become a mainstay in the postseason conversation for decades.
“It’s all about the program, buying into it, and that’s the source of our success. We don’t pride ourselves in our regular season record, you want to be known for putting something on the banners in the gym,” Huppe said.
The Center Yellowjackets (13-11) closed off one of their best years in school history with their 1-0 loss to Barstow following their first round District 7 win over Pleasant Hill, where they shutout the Roosters, 3-0.
“The boys did wonderful. I thought they played very well against Pleasant Hill, which was their best game all year. With Barstow, the team played with a lot of heart and dominated much of the game. It’s unfortunate that one play, one goal kept us out of the District Final,” Center head coach Steve Mattson said.
The Yellowjackets finished second in their conference behind Harrisonville (11-10-1).