Brannon Barry sets tone as St. Charles East blows past Larkin

SHARE Brannon Barry sets tone as St. Charles East blows past Larkin
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St. Charles East’s Brannon Barry made it clear from the opening kickoff Friday night against Larkin what the regular-season finale meant to the Saints.

The kick went over Barry’s head and settled at the 6, but he returned it 94 yards for a touchdown and the St. Charles East offense took it from there en route to a 55-12 Upstate Eight River victory at Memorial Field that locked up a state playoff berth for the Saints.

“I thought our kids came out and played hard from the beginning,” Saints coach Mike Fields said. “They knew what was at stake. We weren’t guaranteed anything even though we had five (wins). We knew we needed to get six to get in the playoffs.

“Senior leadership — I think those guys really kind of said, ‘Hey, it means something to us.’ They said, ‘We want to get back in,’ having had a taste of it last year.”

Barry went on to catch eight passes for 119 yards, quarterback Jimmy Mitchell went 14-of-21 and threw for 224 yards and four touchdowns and Erik Anderson rushed for 135 yards.

“I give Brannon a lot of credit,” Fields said. “He and Erik Anderson. Erik played a great game at tailback. It’s nice to see him, a senior, get out there. He really wants to finish off his career on such a positive note.

“The poor kid had just a string of injuries for three years in a row and to see him have a game like that, he had a heck of a finish. He ran with an attitude.”

The Saints (6-3, 4-2) had a 28-6 lead after a quarter — after Mitch Munroe’s 29-yard TD catch, Ramon Lopez’s a 7-yard TD run and Morgan Flanigan’s 30-yard TD catch.

Anderson broke off TD runs in the second quarter of 13 and 46 yards and caught one of Mitchell’s four TD passes, a 38-yarder, with 3:41 left in the third quarter to start the running clock. The other East score came on Munroe’s 1-yard TD catch with no time left in the first half.

Larkin could only muster a 29-yard Kemmerin Blalark-to-Damion Clemons TD strike in the first quarter and Jarelle Shipp’s 20-yard second-quarter TD run that cut the deficit to 28-12, but then the game got out of hand in head coach Mike Scianna’s final game on the sidelines.

“We wanted to come out and play well,” Scianna said. “They jumped on us for 14. We got shocked right away. Hats off to them. I hope they do well in the playoffs. They’re a conference team. Who else are we going to be rooting for in the playoffs?”

Larkin received 191 yards passing from Blalark (8-of-24). Scott Roback made a couple interceptions for St. Charles East, and later on the game got chippy with two player ejections.

Scianna had announced earlier this month that he would step down after this game. There was very little emotion afterward from the Royals (3-6, 2-4) in that regard.

“You don’t see the big crying and all the other stuff because we did all that yesterday,” Scianna said. “We took care of business.”

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