By BRETT MARSHALL
For the Scott High School football team (10-0) and head coach Glenn O'Neil, Saturday's 5 p.m. rematch with the Smith Center Redmen and their legendary coach Roger Barta at O.L. Darner Field, provides an opportunity at redemption.
Last year, on the same Saturday in November, the Beavers rolled into Smith Center unbeaten while the Redmen had lost twice.
But when the wishbone offense of Barta had finished the game, the Redmen walked off with a 42-35 victory over the Beavers. It would be the most points ever scored on an O'Neil-coached team throughout his tenure at Scott City.
"It was like watching a slow, rear-end kicking," O'Neil said. "We gave them (72) running plays. They're satisfied with three to six yards per play, move the chains and keep rolling along. We just didn't give our offense much of a chance to get any rhythm in that game. Without big plays, we wouldn't have even been in the game."
In addition to Kuhlman's 212 yards, the graduated Kale Newell tacked on 184 and the Redmen had the ball in their hands for 33:09 compared to Scott City's 14:51.
One year has passed since that game but O'Neil doesn't expect anything less from this year's Smith Center team.
"Smith Center is the typical Smith Center team," O'Neil said. "They still have a line that fires off the ball, and creates the gaps, openings for their backs. They've got a great back in Kuhlman. He's got the kind of speed that we see in a (Dalton) Buehler, a (Dalton) Smith or a (Colborn) Couchman. He's having a great year and we've got to be mindful of where he's at."
From 2004 to 2008, Smith Center grew to legendary status with a 79-game winning streak and five consecutive state 2-1A state titles. The Redmen recently moved to Class 3A during the current two-year classification cycle, but will move back down to 2-1A in 2012-13.
O'Neil said that he believes for the Beavers to be successful this time around, his defense will have to be more attacking and pay attention to reads.
"You typically don't know which gap they're gonna hit," O'Neil said. "Their blocking schemes are very good. They bring that toughness factor and we know from last year, that we'll have to match that. This is the game that will show what our hard work over the last year has done. Our kids have heard all about Smith Center. We've been in the weight room, gotten bigger, gotten stronger, gotten faster. Now, we'll see if it pays off on Saturday. Our kids are motivated, that's for sure. Now, it's time to put up or shut up."
O'Neil also said the game will come down to how the two teams match up personnel-wise.
"We've been doing our homework for the last year and we've seen how different teams have had some success against them," O'Neil said. "But no two teams have the same players, so for us it's about matchups. We've got to have a different, a better, plan, and get people to the ball and not let them get to the second level. We'll try to give them different looks so they just don't pound you death."
A win against Smith Center would move the Beavers into the state quarterfinals on Nov. 11 against the Sedgwick-Conway Springs winner. That game would be hosted by either Sedgwick or Conway Springs.