For the first time in 20 years the St. James High School football team will play an 11th game in a season.
And the Tigers' reward for that achievement? The state's No. 2-ranked team as an opponent.
Fourth-seeded St. James (4-6) advances to the Missouri Class 3 District 2 semifinals tonight against top-seeded John Burroughs at 7 p.m. at Parkway North High School in St. Louis. John Burroughs would have hosted the game but couldn't because its field does not have lights.
In the other District 2 semifinal tonight Cardinal Ritter hosts Soldan.
Tonight's winners move on to the District 2 championship game at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11.
John Burroughs made it to the 2012 Show-Me Bowl, finishing runner-up to Maryville in the Class 3 title game.
And the John Burroughs Bombers, ranked No. 2 in the final regular-season Class 2 state poll, enter tonight's contest perfect, with a 8-0 record after receiving a first-round district bye last week.
St. James head coach Greg Harlan has watched film on the Bombers and knows his squad has its hands full.
"It's a short week of practice but that's not necessarily a bad thing; there's not a lot of time to think about it," said Harlan, whose squad advanced by beating Bishop DuBourg 34-21 in first-round district action last week. "They don't do a lot of things we haven't seen; they just do them very well.
"I just hoping the strength of our schedule has prepared us for them. We've played Class 4 teams like Sullivan, who is 8-2, and Union, who finished 7-3. And Moberly, who has been state-ranked all year."
The Tigers will have to find a way to slow down John Burroughs' junior running back John Moten, who ranks among the St. Louis area leaders in scoring.
Moten has rushed for 1,264 yards (9.2 yards per carry) and has scored a total of 24 touchdowns.
Also, Bomber senior quarterback Nick Duncan has hit on 74-of-115 passes for 989 yards, two interceptions and 10 TDs. Duncan has also rushed for 280 yards and four touchdowns.
Duncan's favorite target has been senior wideout Jake Wood, who has 28 receptions for 259 yards. Also for the Bombers 6-5, 210-pound junior tight end Nathan Van Slyke has 18 catches for 219 yards and five TDs and Moten has caught 11 passes for 133 yards.
Defensively sophomore linebacker Thomas Bolstad leads the Bombers with 62 tackles while senior defensive back Henry Rogers has 61. Sophomore 6-3, 180-pound defensive back Ronald Smith has six QB sacks while senior linebacker Gregg Booker leads the squad in interceptions with three.
"They run some spread formation but also use some I-formation," Harlan said of the Bombers. "They have good speed.
"They run the ball predominately but also pass the ball well. We've got to find a way to slow them down; they do have some good skill guys."
Page 2 of 2 - For the Tigers sophomore quarterback Brett Karnes has completed 111-of-210 passes for 1,315 yards, nine interceptions and 14 touchdowns.
Senior wideout Jamal Sconiers has been Karnes' top target, with 40 receptions for 553 yards while junior wideout Jake Money has 24 catches for 287 yards and senior wideout Addison Conway 22 catches for 265 yards.
Senior running back Jesse Hays tops the Tiger ground game with 754 yards on 144 carries and has scored five TDs. Karnes has rushed for 315 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively junior linebacker Cameron Orlando leads St. James with 62 solo tackles and 91 total while junior linebacker Garrett Ubben has 55 solos and 76 total and Money, a defensive back, has 45 solos and 73 total.
"We know it'll be a tough game," Harlan said. "It's on a neutral field and sometimes upsets happen if things line up just right. Hopefully we have that happen for us."