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Aided by faith, St. Dominic football makes history

All season long, faith has been at the core of everything the St. Dominic football team has done.

That faith has led to history for the Crusaders.

As junior running back Jackson Overton sees things, from Day One right on through the Crusaders’ 42-21 win over Hazelwood East Friday to earn the Class 4 District 4 championship – the first in school history – the success has been all about belief.

That belief has come in all aspects of the program on the field and off of it – from God to Coach Blake Markway and the Crusaders’ staff right on through every player on the team’s roster.

“Every Friday, we take part in team mass, giving our worries to the Lord,” Overton said. “We trust in God to protect us on the field and help us play to the best of our ability. We also have faith in one another and Coach that he will set us up for success and that our teammates will be there when we need them.”

St. Dominic (8-4) will look to continue that success at 12 p.m. Saturday at Crusader Stadium when the team hosts MICDS (11-0) in a Class 4 state quarterfinal.

For Markway, while the 232 rushing yards – led by 99 from Sam Cross – and three touchdowns from Overton, two from senior Matt Willenbrink and one from Cross were nice, the effort Friday has just continued a string of hard work that has been a program staple for a very long time.

"I couldn't be more proud of this team and how they have approached the 2021 season going back to winter workouts last year,” Markway said. “We graduated 23 seniors from last year's district runner-up team, while having to replace our entire offensive line, our quarterback, and nine starters on defense. 

“I think a lot of people outside our program felt it was a rebuilding season, but the seniors and leaders in our program knew what they were capable of because our players take so much pride in developing over four years in our program and are ready when it is their time to take the varsity field,” Markway said. “This group of 12 seniors, all of which are four-year players in our program, proved they were ready to lead and showed what commitment and work ethic can do as they achieved the school's first district championship."

Overton said that, for his part, the structure of the St. Dominic football program has proved invaluable.

The idea that any player on the field is just one of 11 means everything, he said.

“The sport of football, like many other sports, cannot be won without a collective team effort,” Overton said. “But even more so in football. You look at your brother before the game and say I got your back. You then proceed to put your body on the line every play for that brother next to you. The bond of our team is unmatched and every game we play for each other. We pick each other up when down and congratulate when up. We are 1/11. One man, in one whole team. We work together for one goal. To be great.”

Overton added that while being a part of the Crusaders’ success this season has been phenomenal because it means so much to him to be able to send the senior class, with many four-year varsity players, out on a high note – no matter what happens Saturday.

“Making history is something you always dream of as a kid,” Overton said. “Especially when it’s a sport you have dedicated a large portion of your life to. Making history with this team and under Coach Markway and the other coaches means a ton. Coach Markway and the seniors along with everyone else are beyond deserving of this and it’s a blessing to be in the position we are in as district champions.”

The winner Saturday will play the Lincoln College Prep/Smithville winner on Nov. 27 in a state semifinal. 

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