Win or lose, Scott City seniors will be winners
If you're a high school football fan, you should make your way to Scott City's O.L. Darner Field for a 6 p.m. Friday kickoff between the host Beavers and the Owls of Garden Plain.
The occasion, in case you've been sleepwalking lately, is the Class 3A quarterfinal matchup between two teams that have yet to taste defeat this season.
Both are 11-0, both are powerpacked on offense and both have stingy defenses.
Something, and someone, will have to give on Friday night, with the winner getting the prize of advancing to the Nov. 16 semifinal game against either Beloit or Sedgwick.
For now, though, the focus is on the Elite Eight game between two of the powerhouse programs in Kansas' middle classification.
And while the teams have not met in four seasons, they are all too familiar with how successful the other program has been.
They both have lost to eventual state championship teams in recent playoff ventures. Conway Springs trumped both the Owls and Beavers during its march to the 2011 state title.
It has been four seasons since these teams collided in the same round, on the same field.
Lest anyone has forgotten, people in Scott City need little reminder about that windy, bone-chilling night that came to a frostbite end for the Beavers when they saw a 17-6 lead with just less than two minutes left slip away in a 20-17 heartbreaker after turning the ball over twice to the Owls.
The turnovers were bitter pills to swallow. A blocked punt recovered for a touchdown, a fumble recovery by Garden Plain that led to a long pass and a short TD run in the final 31 seconds were the knives that stuck in the side of the Beavers that night.
The outcome stunned both Garden Plain coaches, players and fans, and it left their counterparts from Scott City wondering what had just happened.
This reporter was witness to that unraveling and could understand how the tears flowed that night by both Scott City players and fans. It was a somber-faced Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil who grasped for the right words to convey the emotion of the moment. It was like watching someone getting their heart ripped out.
Simply, the words were difficult to express.
"We just didn't do what we needed to do at the end," O'Neil said that mid-November night after the loss. "But I can't fault the effort of the kids. For 42, 44 minutes, we were the better team. It's just very difficult to see these seniors go out this way. They've been great leaders."
Thirteen seniors will don the blue, navy and white uniform for the Beavers on Friday. Win or lose, it will be their final home appearance.
The remarkable component of this senior group is the fact they have not lost a regular season game in their four years of high school competition. The Beavers' seniors are 36-0 in the nine-game regular schedule. The last regular-season loss for a Glenn O'Neil-coached football team was against Norton, 26-14, in the eighth game of the 2008 season. Today's seniors were just eighth-graders then.
You don't win that much by accident. You win that much for a variety of reasons.
But no matter Friday's outcome, when the final seconds have ticked off, this group of Scott City seniors can hold their heads high. They'll be winners.
Sports Editor Brett Marshall can be emailed at email@example.com