Four-peat: Unstoppable offense carries Pirates to fourth consecutive district championship

Hannibal’s Waylon Anders (14) dives into the end zone during the Hannibal Pirates district championship game against the Warrenton Warriors, Friday in Hannibal.  Mathew Kirby (Herald WhigCourier Post)

Hannibal quarterback Waylon Anders dives into the end zone for one of his three touchdown runs during Friday night's 55-32 victory over Warrenton in the Class 4 District 4 title game at Porter Stadium in Hannibal, Mo. | Mathew Kirby photo

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Who’s next?

Hannibal continued its scorched-earth approach to postseason football with its third straight one-sided victory Friday night.

The Pirates won their fourth straight Class 4 District 4 championship in record-breaking fashion, torching previously unbeaten Warrenton 55-32 before a crowd of about 1,700 at Porter Stadium.

Fueled by all-purpose back Aneyas Williams’  331 yards rushing and four touchdowns, Hannibal (11-1) won its 11th straight game while establishing school records for points scored (573) and touchdowns (83) in a season.

Hannibal has scored 167 points over its first three postseason tests, a sizzling 55.7 per game.

Hannibal advances to the Nov. 18 quarterfinals against St. Louis Lutheran North (10-1), which defeated Clayton-Brentwood 54-14 on Friday. The site and starting time of the Hannibal-Lutheran North game will be announced at some point this weekend.

“We expect to be here every year,” Hannibal coach Jeff Gschwender said. “We expect to be in the quarterfinals every year.”

Gschwender felt Hannibal’s offense offered too many variables for Warrenton (11-1) to handle.

“We knew we could put points on the board,” he said.

And the Pirates did just that.

The outcome was never in question after Hannibal rattled off five consecutive first-half touchdowns to lead 34-6. That barrage followed a Warrenton score less than two minutes into the game.

“When Warrenton scored that first touchdown, it served as kind of a wake-up call for us,” said Waylon Anders, Hannibal’s junior quarterback who only threw four passes but ran for touchdowns of 9, 4 and 3 yards. “Our energy really picked up after that Warrenton touchdown. It feels great winning that district title. This is four straight for our seniors.”

Hannibal’s Aneyas Williams rushed for 331 yards and four touchdowns to power the Pirates to a 55-32 victory over Warrenton in the Class 4 District 4 championship game Friday night at Porter Stadium in Hannibal, Mo. | Mathew Kirby photo

One of those seniors Anders mentioned is Williams, who scored on runs of 19, 1, 8 and 93 yards to accent Hannibal’s 12th consecutive win at home. The Pirates are 19-1 in their last 20 games at Porter Stadium.

Williams’ 331-yard rushing total was shy of school record-holder Wentric Williams’ 386-yard effort in 2000.

“Aneyas, who is just a super kid, has the ability to take over a game,” said Gschwender, who is now 33-5 as Hannibal coach. 

Williams also made Anders’ job much easier.

“I was happy just to hand the ball off (and watch),” Anders said. “We have playmakers all over the place.”

Williams has rushed for 587 yards and eight touchdowns in his last two games. He’s now tied for the second-most career touchdowns (141, including 39 this season) in state history and has the third-most career points (891).

Williams’ Friday night rushing total improved his career mark to 4,060. He’s the fourth Pirates player to top 4,000 rushing yards and is just seven yards behind No. 3 Damien French (4,067). 

Williams’ running mate in the backfield, junior Mike Ferreira, also had another big night. Ferreira ran for 166 yards, including an 84-yard touchdown burst in the first half.

Ferreira has 11 100-yard games this season and has rushed for a team-leading 1,635 yards, including 530 yards in the playoffs. Ferreira’s total is now No. 8 on Hannibal’s all-time single-season chart.

“If (an opponent) is able to stop Aneyas, we have other players who can take over,” Gschwender said. 

Said Anders, “We have plays for everyone.”

Warrenton quarterback Charlie Blondin threw for 295 yards, completing 22 of 41 attempts. Blondin ended the season with 2,633 yards passing.

“Warrenton has an outstanding passing game,” Gschwender said. “That was a much better team than we beat last year.”

Hannibal eliminated Warrenton 62-7 in its district opener in 2022.

Defensively, Kade Hoskins had a pair of interceptions for Hannibal. Kaisen McAfee and Ryan Ross each recorded a sack.

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