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Parkway West heads into district final against Chaminade with 'nothing to lose' mentality

“And when you’re the five seed playing what some maybe thought should be the one seed in Chaminade, we can play like we have nothing to lose"
Credit: Corey Miller

ST. LOUIS — After losing to Fort Zumwalt North in the Class 5 state semi-final game in 2019, the Chaminade College Preparatory varsity football team is well on its way to another deep postseason run.

Chaminade will face Parkway West High School on Friday in the Class 5 District 2 championship game.

Chaminade is 3-1 this season, suffering their sole loss in week two to CBC by a final score of 49-19. Chaminade is coming off a 27-20 win over Ladue. 

Chaminade senior running back Amar Johnson leads the team offensively with seven touchdowns, 492 total rushing yards and 176 total receiving yards this season.

But Johnson is just one senior of many who play a leadership role this year. Chaminade head football coach Antoine Torrey said they’re leaning on experience. 

“We have 16 seniors who have been through the grind and understand the big games,” Torrey said. “You know we’re playing tomorrow night for our third district championship in a row. So these guys played for two already. So they know what it takes in these kind of environments against very talented groups and teams in this area, and so we’re gonna need them to play at their highest level to beat a very talented Parkway West team.”

Like many high school teams this fall, Chaminade has split time between two quarterbacks. Junior Cam Epps and sophomore Drake Faust.

Epps will get the start Friday night.

Torrey said the team is preparing for a game as though playoff seeding doesn’t exist.

“We’ve been telling our guys all day, ‘We can’t overlook this team,’” Torrey said. “Ya know on paper they’re a five seed, but we know that they didn’t play with a full group all year. They had some kids out because of COVID, and they still managed to beat the number one seed last week handedly.”

The Longhorns will have the chance to rebound following their district semi-final loss to McCluer North in 2019 that ended their playoff run.

Both teams have had to jump through several hoops to get to this point in the season.

Parkway West played Webster Groves in week three of the regular season. The next day, the Longhorns were informed that one Webster Groves player tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, 22 Parkway West varsity players were required to quarantine.

But the program chose to continue playing. Only four varsity players were available to play the following Friday, so the team pulled up players from the freshman and junior varsity teams.

They lost to Parkway North but came back strong the next week when the majority of players returned from their two-week quarantine period.

Parkway West rebounded in a must-win game over Parkway South.

The Longhorns are 3-3 this fall and are coming off a 49-28 victory over Rockwood Summit High School. They also have 16 seniors this fall.

Duncan said senior leadership has played a large role in the program’s success on and off the field. 

A key piece to the puzzle has been junior running back Ja’Marion Wayne who leads the team in scoring with five touchdowns, leads the team in rushing with 313 total rushing yards and leads the team in receiving with 358 total receiving yards. 

“It’s easy to play when you don’t have anything to lose,” Duncan said. “And when you’re the five seed playing what some maybe thought should be the one seed in Chaminade, we can play like we have nothing to lose. And they’re a phenomenal football team. Ya know, they’re big and physical. They’ve got a great running back. They’re well-coached. And so, ya know, for us we’ve gotta go in there and control the things that we can control.”