For Winfield football coach Cody Spegal and his Warriors, the 2020 season was about building a program from the ground up.

Lots of bumps along the road were expected, and though a 44-6 loss Friday night at the hands of St. Francis Borgia in Washington in the opening round of the Class 3 District 3 Tournament capped a winless season, Spegal said he felt his team grew as the season went along.

“Early on, I thought we played really well,” said Spegal, whose Warriors finished 0-10 in his first campaign as coach. “We lost a heartbreaker against St. Charles (28-21, in the final seconds on Oct. 2), and we never recovered from that.”

St. Francis Borgia (6-3) jumped Winfield with a blitz attack early – and didn’t let up until the Knights carried a 30-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Another long TD run, and an interception return of an Austin Carson pass for a score sent St. Francis Borgia running into the locker room a 44-0 halftime advantage.

“Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong in the first quarter for us,” Spegal said. “(The Knights) are an experienced team. They have 20 seniors.

“We only have four.”

Spegal added his team needs to do the kind of preparation in the offseason needed to turn the program around quickly – and he believes it can be done.

“We have to get better in the weight room. We’ll have 13 seniors returning, and we hope that’s us celebrating (like St. Francis Borgia) next year,” he said. “We only lose two offensive linemen and we lose one defensive player, and we get (quarterback Wade Ellison) back – and he only played in two games this season.”

Throughout the 2020 campaign, Spegal’s motto to his team was “learn how to practice, learn how to compete and learn how to win.” He felt his team accomplished two of the three objectives.

“We didn’t get that win, but we’re on the right path, and hopefully we’ll get better next year,” Spegal said.

Cole Sams’ 23-yard fumble return for a touchdown with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter accounted for Winfield’s scoring. 

Rock Bridge 31, Troy Buchanan 20

After reaching the Class 6 District 4 championship game last year, the 2020 campaign for Troy Buchanan’s football squad didn’t end anywhere near the way it – or its fans – wanted.

The road loss in Columbia ends the Trojans’ season with a  3-7 record, five fewer wins than their 2019 total. Troy also finished the season on a six-game losing skid, getting outscored 221-93 along the way, an average score of 37-16.