WARE -- More than three years in the making, Chaffee High School's first football victory came with confidence and poise.
"I promised it to everybody," said Chaffee senior quarterback Michael Lee, who was not bashful about being quoted before the season.
The promise was kept.
Chaffee rolled to a 43-14 victory against Grandview on Friday night, ending a 34-game losing streak that dated back to Oct. 11, 2002.
The Red Devils' last win was 20-6 against East Prairie in its homecoming game during a 1-9 season. Chaffee last beat Grandview, its season-opening foe for the last eight years, in 2001, when it won 16-8 during a 2-8 season.
"This is the greatest feeling in the world," Lee said.
"This is awesome," said senior running back Kent Courtney. "We'll celebrate this forever."
The Red Devils (1-0) could begin the celebration in the early part of the fourth period, when Steven Atkinson's 1-yard run and Andrew Hendrix's kick gave them a 37-14 advantage.
"I was nervous until the end," said coach Charlie Vickery, a member of the Missouri Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame who is in his second season at the helm of his alma mater. "This was a huge win. The kids have worked so hard. We made some mistakes, but we got some early scores and that made a big difference. It gave the kids confidence."
Confidence did not seem to be lacking, despite three consecutive 0-10 seasons and a 24-6 loss to Grandview last year.
The Red Devils pounded the ball for 291 yards of rushing. Courtney, who had more than 150 yards last year against Grandview in his first varsity game, picked up 90 with one touchdown on 13 carries Friday.
But he had company in the backfield.
Andrew Hendrix carried 12 times for 91 yards and three touchdowns. His 43-
yard romp midway through the fourth period was the icing on the cake. Atkinson added 53 yards on 12 carries and his one TD.
Statistically, Lee didn't have a large role in backing his promise, but he guided the Red Devils offense down the field with few mistakes. He threw the ball just three times and completed only one, but it was a beauty -- a 25-yard toss into the end zone that Aaron Volkerding snared for the Red Devils' third touchdown and a 22-6 lead.
Chaffee turned the ball over twice on fumbles during the early part of a choppy second period that was played mostly in Grandview's end. The Eagles fumbled one back, as Chaffee took the ball away five times on the night -- twice on interceptions and two more times on botched punt returns.
Jerrod Steger's interception and 50-yard return early in the third period set up Hendrix's 11-yard run on the next play. The conversion, a pass from Hendrix to Zach McDaniel out of the kicking formation, made the score 30-6 with 10:04 to play in the third period.
But Grandview's passing attack kept the game from getting out of hand. The Eagles, who had little yardage on the ground, passed 21 times on the evening for 170 yards.
Quarterback Gary Britton and wingback Levi Terrell, who had hooked up for a 65-yard scoring play in the first period, got together on a 56-yard pass that set up a Britton run. The two-point conversion pulled Grandview within two possessions at 30-14.
The Eagles even forced Chaffee into its second consecutive punt -- and second punt of the night -- on the next series. But a Grandview player tried to field the short punt 16 yards downfield and fumbled it. Adam Horton recovered. Six plays later, Atkinson was in the end zone, and the Red Devils were on the verge of a celebration.
The Chaffee fans who made the trek more than 100 miles to the rural Jefferson County town rushed the field at the final buzzer.
While the win eased the burden on the program, which last won a district title in 1983 and captured the state crown that same year, the players also realized nine games remain.
"We'll remember this forever," McDaniel said, "but the celebration ends Monday. And we'll start working for the next one. This was just one game. We've got a lot to go."