By BRETT MARSHALL
A week ago, it was the ground attack of Hoisington that posed the biggest obstacle to the Scott City football team.
Seven days later, it will be the aerial circus of Wichita Collegiate that will try to provide a roadblock for the unbeaten Beavers from advancing to next week's Class 3A sub-state championship. The quarterfinal game kicks off at 3 p.m. Saturday at Collegiate Field, located on the east side of Wichita.
For the fourth consecutive season, Scott City will attempt to break through sectionals.
"(Collegiate) changed their offense and have spread out their state championship basketball players into space to create a lot of one-one-one situations," Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil said of the Spartans who dispatched Garden Plain (51-20) and Hillsboro (48-0) in the first two rounds of the playoffs. "You've got to cover five guys with athletic ability and for most teams that creates major problems. It will be tough for us, so we'll just have to see how it goes."
Making the offense go for for the Spartans is 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior quarterback Blake Jablonski.
He has completed 191-of-288 passes (66 percent) for 3,038 yards and 42 touchdowns this season.
"They've got a good scheme for throwing the ball and they do it well," O'Neil said of Collegiate. "What we've seen is they're very good at pass protection and their quarterback has not been sacked too many times.
"We've got two choices - lay back and not pressure him and try to have the secondary coverage, or put pressure on them which in turns puts our secondary in some tough coverages. We'll probably switch out during the game because he just throws too well."
Scott City (11-0) comes into the game on a roll, having belted Holcomb (54-6) and Hoisington (41-7) in their first two postseason contests.
"I thought our defense did a good job against a team that ran a lot against everybody else," O'Neil said of his team's effort against Hoisington. "Our keys were a lot different than a lot of the games, their spacing on offense created problems, but our defensive line did a good job. I think it eventually frustrated them."
Special teams were also good to the Beavers. Dakota Hayes returned a punt 42 yards to inside the 10-yard line to set up one short drive and place-kicker Jordan Habiger consistently put kickoffs into the end zone to prevent returns.
"When we stopped them on their one long drive in the second quarter, that was a big turning point," O'Neil said. "Then we got the second half kickoff and went down and scored and that put us up by four touchdowns and I thought it took a lot out of Hoisington."
O'Neil said his team's game plan will adjust as needed as they will continue to go with their strength - a potent running game led by Alex Swan (746 yards) and Jason Williams (666 yards) - and mix it with quarterback Ron Baker's passing (8-of-12 for 197 yards and a touchdown against Hoisington).
Baker, who has improved steadily, found Swan, Hayes and Jorden Funk for long receptions against Hoisington.
"I think our kids are ready for this opportunity and challenge," O'Neil said. "We've been reading some of the items from the Wichita area and I think most people there don't believe we play very good football out here. So the kids have a little chip on their shoulder and we definitely feel that we're the underdog going in. But it's a role we don't mind at all."
A victory Saturday puts the Beavers into the Nov. 13 sub-state championship (semifinals) against the winner of Hutchinson-Trinity and Norton. The Beavers defeated Norton 14-6 in a district match-up.