Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No. 7 Small School: Orchard Farm Pushes for Its Full Potential

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No. 7 Small School: Orchard Farm Pushes for Its Full Potential

Article excerpt

The Orchard Farm football team was bitten at the end of last season.

First by the injury bug when then-senior starting quarterback DJ Kemp was lost for the season in the last week of the regular season.

The second bite was one that stuck with coach Eric Schroer and has pushed Orchard Farm in the offseason.

Five weeks after handing St. Charles West a 28-21 defeat, Orchard Farm's season was ended by St. Charles West 48-27 in a Class 3 district semifinal. The Eagles finished 8-3 and were left to ponder what went wrong.

"That definitely left a bitter taste in our mouth. I think (St. Charles West) had a score to settle," Schroer said. "That's definitely motivated our kids. You can't get complacent."

The No. 7 small school in the preseason rankings, Orchard Farm returns several key performers, including its two leading tacklers. Senior linebacker Caleb Grimes (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) racked up 116 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions as a junior. Junior linebacker Matt Lewis (5-11, 195) had 118 tackles and three sacks as a sophomore.

"I love playing next to Caleb," Lewis said. "He's aggressive and flies to the ball."

The Eagles' defense was stout last season as it gave up an average of 18 points per game. That includes clashes with Class 2 powerhouse Lutheran North and Class 3 semifinalist McCluer-South Berkeley. Those were the only two teams to best Orchard Farm in the regular season, and neither came easy.

"We knew those were good (teams) and scheduled them early," Schroer said.

The lessons learned paid off. Orchard Farm rolled to seven consecutive victories and claimed the Gateway Athletic Conference North title.

Defending the conference title is on the Eagles' to-do list. But so is making a run at the district championship. Another significant contributor will be Cade Grimes (6-2, 180), Caleb's twin brother. …

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