By BRETT MARSHALL
Cimarron's Bluejays are in the same success boat against the Meade Buffaloes that most southwest Kansas area football teams have been over the past several seasons.
Mostly, if it's a sink or swim situation, teams have been sunk by the stampeding Buffaloes.
Cimarron is no exception.
It's been since 2005 that the Bluejays have beaten the Buffs, and in the past three years despite two times owning a 3-0 and 2-1 record, they have come up on the proverbial whitewash side of lopsided scores by margins of 56-0, 54-0 and 55-0.
So when first-year coach Ashley Seabolt looks to Friday night's game at Meade, he's cautiously optimistic that this will be different.
"We know we really haven't played any of the toughest teams on our schedule," said Seabolt, whose team has rolled by Wichita County, Syracuse and Sublette in the first three weeks. "Truth is, we haven't been tested. We know Meade's a different deal. We know it's going to be a tough, tough match-up. Meade's kids are used to being in big games and they know what it takes to play at a high level. It's what they expect there."
Indeed, the Buffaloes have two state championship banners hanging in their school from the past three seasons and usually make deep runs into the Class 2-1A playoffs.
Last year, the Bluejays finished the regular season 7-2 and then lost to Scott City, the Class 3A state champion, in the first round of the playoffs.
But with a veteran cast of players returning, Seabolt is anxious to see how his team has matured and will handle the big-game atmosphere.
"So far, the kids are doing everything we've asked of them, and I think they've played pretty well overall," Seabolt said. "We didn't do as good a job of taking care of the ball and penalties in the Sublette game."
The Bluejays have relied on a balanced offensive attack thus far, averaging 420.9 yards, split nearly equally between the ground game (197.6) and the aerial show (223.3). It has been senior twins Caleb and Christian Fischer who have provided the bulk of the passing attack, with quarterback Caleb completing 32-of-65 passes for 663 yards and 12 touchdowns. Christian has caught 16 of those passes for 396 yards and nine scores. In last week's 46-14 win over Sublette, he hauled in six passes for 229 yards and four TDs.
"We don't solely rely on Christian, although the numbers would tell a different story," Seabolt said. "We've got other receivers who are threats and I think it has just allowed Christian to be open more."
The ground game has been led by senior running back Ty Clark, who has gained 363 yards on just 24 carries (a 15.1 average) and has scored four touchdowns.
"He's stronger, and he's even faster than he was a year ago," Seabolt said of Clark. "He's as tough as ever."
Seabolt likes the balance that his team has shown thus far.
"We tend to be pass first, run second," Seabolt said. "We're not big enough to just line up and run right at you. The passing is a lot of short routes, which is just about like a running game for us. Teams have started to try and stop that, and it has extended the field for us, and we've been able to utilize our athletes so far."
So while the opening third of the season has gone smoothly for the Bluejays, Seabolt knows the toughest part is yet to come — that starts with Meade.
"We'll certainly get tested this week," Seabolt said. "We'll see how far we've come. I don't know if we overlooked Sublette, but it's a good time to see how much progress has been made."
Other top area performances from Friday included:
Henry Friesen, South Gray: Friesen ran for 235 yards on 20 carries and scored five touchdowns on runs of 75, 4, 30, 20 and 1 yard(s) in leading the Rebels to a 52-20 over Bucklin.
Zeke Cox and Josh Irsik, Ingalls: Cox completed just 7-of-22 passes but they totaled 210 yards and two were for touchdowns in the Bulldogs' stirring victory over Satanta, 42-36. Irsik had 142 yards rushing and scored one TD for the 'Dogs.
Mike Mata, Deerfield: The senior quarterback accounted for seven touchdowns in the Spartans' 52-6 romp over Moscow. Mata had TD runs of 50, 45, 19 and 2 yards while throwing scoring passes of 25, 21 and 11 yards.
Colton Northrup, Wichita County: Rushed 17 times for 141 yards, including a 60-yard TD scamper, in the Indians' 25-6 win over Syracuse.
Ian Rudzik, Ulysses: The sophomore running back had 12 carries for 119 yards and scored three touchdowns (10, 33 and 20 yards) in the Tigers' 52-16 victory over Colby.
Jett Little, Meade: The Buffaloes' QB had two touchdown runs and passed for three more in a 49-0 win over Southwestern Heights.
Alex Gomez, Elkhart: Completed 16-of-30 passes for 424 yards without an interception and had seven of them go for touchdowns in a 47-35 shootout victory over Lakin.
Gage McAtee, Caleb Seeger, Matt Armstrong, Lakin: McAtee had 16 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns; Seeger completed 14-of-35 passes for 213 yards and one TD; Armstrong caught five passes for 129 yards and one score in the Broncs' tough loss to Elkhart.
Kyler Telford, Rolla: Had eight carries for 130 yards, four of those went for TDs on runs of 43, 32, 5 and 43 yards and caught one TD of 15 yards in the Pirates' 46-0 win over Goodwell, Okla.