In the summer of 2004, or five years after the arrival of coach Tom Kruse, football players at Raymore-Peculiar High School were about to set the state aflame.

Kruse’s 2002 team had finished as a state runner-up, and participation numbers kept climbing.

“We told them we were going to two-platoon, meaning guys would only play on one side of the ball,” Krse said of his first few teams. “Our first year, we had 36 players, so that made it difficult, but the next year we had 68. And from that point on, we had between 90 to 100 players.”

With depth can come destruction, and the Panthers did just that. In fact, it’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted the 2004-2006 Raymore-Peculiar High School Football Era with the Class of 2023.

The Panthers won Class 5 state championships those three seasons, compiling a 36-3 record. The era also was part of the Panthers winning 28 consecutive games.

In championship games, Ray-Pec beat McCluer North 37-18 in 2004, and again 43-21 the next year before beating Kirkwood 42-32 in 2006.

In the three championships games, Derrick Washington scored a combined 12 touchdowns, including five as a senior. In 2004, Ray-Pec beat Park Hill, the defending Class 5 state champions, and then beat them twice each of the next two seasons as they faced off in the regular season and playoffs.

The Panthers also scored notable wins against Blue Springs South in 2004 and 2005, as that marked the first time Ray-Pec played a Class 6 opponent.

All-State players were Chase Coffman (MSHOF 2019), Carson Coffman, Derrick Washington, Matt Breit, Levi Thompson, Kendall Burke, Andrew Wilson, Clyde Aufner, Nathan Hogue, Tim Mincher, David Gutierrez, Robert Link, Landarian Gordon, Adam Peterson, Jamison Shaw, Brett Twigg, Robbie Corder, Thomas Hodges, Nick Falcon and Gavin Lutman. Assistant coaches were Ron Barnes, Mark Cook, Matt Copeland, Sean Martin, James Merrell, and Limbo Parks.

“I think the 2001 and 2002 teams really gave the teams that followed an idea of how much fun they could have together,” Kruse said. “They set the standard for work in the weight room, on the practice field and on game nights.”

The offense ran a double-wing, double-slot formation, fueled by a running game full of iso, counter and toss plays. Defensively, the Panthers based mainly out of a 4-3, but played some 4-2-5.

The 2004 team (13-0) had 40 seniors and juniors, and they all held each other accountable.

Washington rushed for 1,034 yards and 11 touchdowns. Carson Coffman threw for 1,324 yards and 24 TDs, and Chase Coffman had 707 yards receiving on 33 catches, (11 TDs). Thompson (103), Breit (85) and Hall (57) were leading tacklers on a defense whose line was led by Robert Link and future NCAA wrestling champion Mark Ellis.

The Panthers opened with a 41-0 victory against two-time defending Class 4 champion Kearney and ended the year by storming back from a 16-15 halftime deficit to beat McCluer North.

The 2005 team (13-0) returned several offensive linemen and the backfield of Coffman, Hodges and Washington. Mitch Young stepped in at fullback, and, defensively, Kendall Burke joined Thompson at inside linebacker. Jamison Shaw also returned.

Washington rushed for 1,060 yards on 131 carries (25 TDs), and Hodges had 1,088 yards on 132 carries (27 TDs). Robbie Corder hauled in 502 yards receiving from Carson Coffman, who threw for 1,321 yards and 10 TDs. Thompson (81), Burke (59) and Peterson (56) were leading tacklers.

Pay-Pec beat the same teams in the playoffs: Waynesville, Park Hill and McCluer North.

In 2006 (10-3), a number of seniors who had played on junior varsity stepped up. The team lost to Liberty in the third game of the season, ending the win streak, and also suffered losses to Blue Springs South and Jefferson City.

In the championship game, Kirkwood closed a 35-14 deficit to 35-32 before Ray-Pec’s defense stood firm with about two minutes left. Washington returned a punt 68 yards to seal the win.

Washington had 1,534 yards rushing (24 TDs), Gabe Crumpley threw for 915 yards and 12 TDs, Lutman had 20 catches for 446 yards, and Washington had 301 yards receiving. Burke (78), Nick Falcon (61) and Scott Neumann (48) were leading tacklers.

“Each time we lost, we got a little better and had a little more resolve,” Kruse said. “Once we reached district play, we had everything in place to go on a run.”