Lutheran North Crusaders

Lutheran North (14-0) won its sixth state championship and its first since 1999. It was the first time in school history that the Lutheran North Crusaders finished undefeated. After the season, John Burroughs School, a nine-time state champion, announced it would become the third school in the Metro League to remove the Crusaders from their schedule.

The high school sports season in the St. Louis metro area was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there were still many memorable moments during the past year. Here is a look at the St. Louis American Prep Sports Year in Review.

ESPN Comes to the Lou: The St. Louis metro area has been on a roll in terms of becoming more of a high school football hotbed. The area has always produced tremendous talent, but the national notoriety has continued to come this way. On September 20, Metro Catholic Conference rivals DeSmet and CBC squared off in a nationally-televised game on ESPN. The event not only brought tremendous exposure to these two great programs, but also to the St. Louis metro area as well. DeSmet won the game 42-14, but the event was secondary to see the showcase of St. Louis high school football on the national stage.

East Side Dominance: The East St. Louis Flyers football program added another state championship to its already crowded trophy case. The Flyers were an incredible offensive juggernaut that averaged 51 points a game during its 14-0 season. Quarterback Tyler Macon had 5,000 yards of total offense and 56 touchdowns. DeMonta Witherspoon was a top-flight running back while the receiving corps of Dominic Lovett, Antonio Johnson and Lawaun Powell Jr. was very explosive. East Side completed its undefeated season with a 43-21 victory over Crystal Prairie Lake in the Illinois Class 6A state championship game.

DeSmet completes big turnaround: When Robert Steeples took over as head coach at his alma mater, the Spartans were a program that was down in the basement of St. Louis football. DeSmet had won a total of four games in three seasons. Everything came together for the Spartans in 2019 as they finished 14-0 and won the Class 6 state championship with a 35-20 victory over Joplin. The Spartans had a balanced offensive team with its three-head running back monster of Rico Barfield, Taj Butts and Darez Snider and top wide receiver Jordan Johnson. The defense was just as formidable with standouts such as Mekhi Wingo, Lanell Carr, Carter Edwards and a cast of very talented players.

Crusaders complete the mission: The Lutheran North Crusaders had been knocking on the door of a state championship in recent years under the leadership of head coach Carl Reed. The Crusaders broke through this year as they won the Class 2 state championship and completed a dominant season with a 57-8 victory over Ava in the Show-Me Bowl. Lutheran North had an outstanding defense, which was led by senior standouts Antonio Doyle and Itavyion “Tank” Brown.

Cardinal Ritter brings it home: Cardinal Ritter College Prep has enjoyed a strong tradition of winning for many years. The Lions added to that excellence by winning the Class 3 state championship in very convincing fashion. In the state championship game, the Lions defeated Charleston 88-32 to set a new state record for margin of victory. The Lions were a deep and talented team with players such as junior Mario Fleming, senior Garry Clark and sophomore football standout Luther Burden leading the way.

Play for Gray: The Ladue High girls basketball team suffered a profound loss during the summer when head coach Rich Gray passed away at the age of 65. Rich was one of the most influential people in St. Louis sports and a great basketball coach. The Rams’ motto for the 2019-20 season was “Play for Gray” and they responded with a tremendous season. Ladue finished with a 23-5 record, which included the championship of the MICDS Christmas Tournament, a district title and a berth in the Class 4 state tournament. The Rams featured an outstanding dynamic duo in senior Jordan Peete and Mia Collins.

All we need is Love: It was a tremendous season for CBC basketball standout Caleb Love. The 6’3” Love averaged 27 points a game and led the Cadets to a return trip to the Final Four of the Class 5 state tournament. He was the St. Louis American Player of the Year. Love also racked up a bunch of postseason honors as he was selected to the McDonald’s All-American Game, the Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Hoop Summit.      

V-Get Ready to Roll: The Wolverines were rolling towards another state championship before the state tournament was cancelled. The talented Wolverines took on all comers and defeated all of the top teams in the St. Louis area while playing a national schedule. In the Class 4 state tournament, the Wolverines were defeating their opponents by an average of 25 points en route to the Final Four. The Wolverines were led by talented players such as Kentucky recruit Cam’Ron Fletcher, Georgetown recruit Kobe Clark, top shooting guard Phillip Russell and talented junior Nick Kern.

Red Knights Roll: Incarnate Word Academy entered the postseason looking for a four-peat as the Class 4 state champions. The Red Knights faced some big adversity along the way as top scorer Ellie Vanzanna was lost to a season-ending knee injury and senior leader Katie Rolfes was lost to a concussion. Coach Dan Rolfes kept his young and determined bunch together to clinch another Final Four berth before the season was cut short. The Red Knights clinched their Final Four berth in dramatic fashion as sophomore Saniah Tyler hit classmate Jaiden Bryant for a game-winning 3-pointer to give IWA a 57-54 victory over Ladue in the state quarterfinals.

Final Four Teams: Special congratulations to all of the St. Louis area teams that were able to advance to the Final Four of the state tournament in Class 4 and 5 before the event was cancelled. In addition to CBC, Vashon and the Incarnate Word girls; there were the boys from Chaminade and the girls from Kirkwood and Hazelwood Central in Class 5. The Whitfield girls also advanced to the Final Four of the Class 3 state tournament.

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