By BRETT MARSHALL
There is a belief that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.
The head coaches for both Beloit's Trojans and Scott City's Beavers believe they've got those types of players on their teams.
And both believe their opponent across the line-of-scrimmage have the same kind of players.
Those matchups, and more, will be on the line at 7 p.m. Friday when the two unbeaten powers clash in a Class 3A state semifinal contest at Trojan Field in Beloit.
The winner gets a ticket to the state championship game on Nov. 24, while the loser will check in uniforms on Monday.
Both are 13-0. Both have powerpacked offenses and both have stingy defenses.
Something will have to give, and neither coach could specifically say what that might be. They offered positives about their own teams, and compliments to the other team.
No locker room material here.
"They should be the best team we've seen," Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil said. "They've been the most dominant team in 3A and playing some 4A teams as well within their division. They've blown some people out, we've won some games in dominant ways. It's everything you want in a game at this stage of the playoffs."
Scott City has senior running back Dalton Buehler, who combines power with speed while compiling 1,675 yards rushing and scoring 23 touchdowns, one a 78-yard sprint in the 49-0 blowout of previously unbeaten Garden Plain in last week's quarterfinal contest in Scott City. Add in senior quarterback Brett O'Neil's 1,655 yards passing (24 touchdowns, one interception) and the Beavers provide a balanced approach to their offensive attack.
"They've got exceptional speed, good size, they're disciplined," Beloit's Greg Koenig said of Scott City. "They're not one-dimensional. They throw the ball every bit as well as they run the ball. We'll have to be solid in all three phases."
The Trojans, however, have plenty of firepower of their own.
Running from a combination of a wing-T, double-wing and sometimes single wing, the Trojans have steamrolled 11 of their 12 victims. They average 59.8 points a game, are rushing for 374.8 yards per game and have only one close game during the season, a 32-27 come-from-behind win over a 7-2 Phillipsburg team — after coughing up the ball three times in the first half of that game.
"There's some teams who try to be 50-50 with their offensive balance, but may not have the same kind of weapons we have," Koenig said. "Our kids have performed at a high level, including the mental aspect of watching game films. A lot of our guys are two, three-year starters. They've been to a sub-state (2011, losing to Conway Springs) and the quarterfinals (2010, loss to Garden Plain). They've gained a lot of experience from those seasons. They've been able to measure up to different teams from around the state and know what to expect."
That ground game, which begins up front on the offensive line with three 265-pounders, has seen Bowe Behymer lead the way with 1,579 yards with 21 TDs and a 9.5 average per carry. The other halfback, Tanner Niemczyk, has 1,044 yards and 12 touchdowns, while fullback Stanten Krone, a bruising 215-pound senior, has 878 yards and 22 scores, averaging 9.2 yards per carry.
"Everything for us starts up front and that includes our tight ends," Koenig said. "We've been able to make adjustments during the game on the fly and our backs have been carrying out their fakes. We've got big, strong kids who have done their work and that's what has been effective for us."
The offense has been so effective that it was until the 52-24 victory over Sedgwick last week that the Trojans had to punt the ball. That's right, one punt in 12 games. And that was quarterback Payton Vetter, who booted it 50 yards.
"They've got the whole package," Scott City's O'Neil said of Beloit. "They've got good athletes with some size and their skill kids have done a good job for them. It's a tough matchup and you better have time to throw if you want to be able to get your passing game going. They really haven't been challenged at all. They've been rolling over people. It's their personnel. You could put them into any kind of offense and they would execute it."
As in any big game, both coaches emphasized the importance of turnovers — interceptions, fumbles, penalties. The team that likely wins those battles, has a good chance to win the game. The teams enter the battle with nearly identical stats in the turnover and penalty categories. Beloit is a plus-21 while Scott City is a plus-20.
"We've been really good in that area," Koenig said of his team, which has had just three lost fumbles and two interceptions all season. "Turnovers always play a big factor. We've been sharp in our execution and we'll have to be again this week."
O'Neil, meanwhile, said that at this stage, the miscues become even more pivotal, considering that most teams are nearly equal at this stage of the playoffs.
"We were able to capitalize on what we got from Garden Plain," O'Neil said of his team's seven forced turnovers of the Owls. "You want to do your best to get the other team into doing things they don't usually do. Obviously, with Beloit, we hope they are passing the ball. If not, then we're not stopping their running game."
Defensively, both teams have been rock-solid throughout the season. The Trojans have held their opponents to an average of 11 points while the Beavers are limiting their foes to just 6.3 points. Beloit has three shutouts, Scott City has five.
"They're really fundamentally sound and they run to the ball so well," Koenig said of the Scott City defense. "They don't give you much, so it will be important for our line to take care of their assignments."
The teams have three common opponents, and those scores mean nothing according to both coaches. Beloit has wins over Russell (84-0), Salina-Sacred Heart (70-20) and Holcomb (60-8), while Scott City's wins against those teams were by scores of 21-7 (Holcomb), 55-0 (Russell) and 55-7 (Sacred Heart).
"Those games were played at different times of the season and matchups are always different," Koenig said.
"There's nothing you can gain from comparison scores, because we played Holcomb when they were healthy, they played Sacred Heart early in the season, so there's no use in looking at that stuff," O'Neil said.
After winning its first quarterfinal game in O'Neil's six seasons (four losses in previous five years), the Beavers will now be making their first semifinal appearance since 2002 when they fell to Wellington (7-0) when the school was competing in Class 4A. Scott City owns Class 4A state championships in 1988, 1990, and 1991. Beloit state has won titles in 1975-1976-1977 (2A) and 1996 (3A).
The winner of Friday's game will face the winner of the eastern semifinal, which pits unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Silver Lake (12-0) against Rossville (11-1). The championship game will be 1 p.m. kickoff on Nov. 24 at Hutchinson's Gowans Stadium.
Know the Foe
What: Class 3A State Semifinal
Who: Scott City Beavers vs. Beloit Trojans
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Trojan Stadium, Beloit
What's at Stake: Winner advances to Class 3A state championship game on Nov. 24 at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson.
League: Great West Activities Conference
School Colors: Blue, Navy & White
Season Record: 12-0
Coach: Glenn O'Neil (6th year, 61-10, .859)
2012 Season Results
Won 12, Lost 0
Aug. 31--at Abilene, W 51-20
Sept. 7--at Colby, W 47-7
Sept. 14--HOLCOMB, W 21-7
Sept. 21--ULYSSES, W 49-13
Sept. 28--at Hugoton, W 41-0
Oct. 5--at Goodland, W 51-15
Oct. 12--*HOISINGTON, W 36-0
Oct. 19--*TMP-MARIAN, W 58-0
Oct. 25--*at Russell, W 55-0
Oct. 30--#CIMARRON, W 55-6
Nov. 3--#at Salina-Sacred Heart, W 55-7
Nov. 9--#GARDEN PLAIN, W 49-0
*-Denotes district game
#-Denotes playoff game
TE--Drew Kite, 6-4, 215, Sr.
QB--Brett O'Neil, 6-1, 155, Sr.
RB--Dalton Buehler, 5-9, 205, Sr.; Brenner Wells, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Tyler Hess, 6-0, 195, Sr.
WR--Devyn Eggleston, 6-0, 150, Sr. and/or Trey O'Neil, 6-2, 165, So.
G--Michael McEachern, 5-11, 250, Sr.; Colten Yager, 6-0, 215, Sr.
C--Keigun Wells, 5-10, 220, Jr.
T--Sean Tuttle, 5-9, 220, Sr.; Collin Ratzlaff, 6-4, 215, Sr.
PK--Brett O'Neil, 6-1, 155, Sr.
E--Paco Banda, 5-6, 190, Jr.; Warren Kropp, 5-10, 180, Jr.
T--Michael McEachern, 5-11, 250, Sr.; Sean Tuttle, 5-9, 220, Sr.
OLB--Tyler Hess, 6-0, 195, Sr.; Devyn Eggleston, 6-0, 150, Sr.
ILB--Colten Yager, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Drew Kite, 6-4, 215, Sr.
CB--Brenner Wells, 5-10, 175, Sr.; Trey O'Neil, 6-2, 165, So.
FS--Brett O'Neil, 6-1, 155, Sr.
P--Brett O'Neil, 6-1, 155, Sr.
League: North Central Activities Association
School Colors: Orange and Black
Season Record: 12-0
Coach: Greg Koenig (8th year, 61-18, .772)
Aug. 31--at Concorida, W 50-8
Sept. 7--SMITH CENTER, W 54-0
Sept. 14--RUSSELL, W 84-0
Sept. 21--at Salina-Sacred Heart, W 70-20
Sept. 28--ELLSWORTH, W 68-10
Oct. 5--at Southeast of Saline, W 62-13
Oct. 12--*PHILLIPSBURG, W 32-27
Oct. 19--*at Norton, W 56-9
Oct. 25--*at Minneapolis, W 64-13
Oct. 30--#ELLSWORTH, W 66-0
Nov. 3--#HOLCOMB, W 60-8
Nov. 9--#at Sedgwick, W 52-24
Nov. 16--#SCOTT CITY
*-Denotes district game
#-Denotes playoff game
TE--Austin Budke, 6-6, 2-5, Sr.; RJ Jackson, 6-3, 195, So.
T--Bryce Black, 5-11, 265, Jr.; Elliott Kimminau, 5-11, 265, So.
G--Jacob Barrett, 6-0, 265, Sr.; Dylan Heidrick, 6-2, 205, Sr.
C--Cadyn Carter, 6-3, 195, Sr.
QB--Payton Vetter, 6-2, 190, Jr.
RB--Tanner Niemczyk, 5-9, 155, Jr.; Bowe Behymer, 5-7, 165, Jr.; Stanten Krone, 5-11, 215, Sr.
E--Hunter Post, 5-11, 150, Sr.; Caleb Marshall, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Cadyn Carter, 6-3, 195, Sr.
T--Bryce Black, 5-11, 265, Jr.; Jacob Barrett, 6-0, 265, Sr.
LB--Austin Budke, 6-6, 205, Sr.; Bowe Behymer, 5-7, 165, Jr.; Stanten Krone, 5-11, 215, Sr.
DB--Payton Vetter, 6-3, 195, Sr.; Tanner Niemczyk, 5-9, 155, Jr.; Dan Perez, 6-1, 176, Sr.
P--Payton Vetter, 6-3, 195, Sr.
Season Team Statistics
First downs 204 242
Rushes-yards 539-4497 487-3725
Avg./Game 374.8 310.4
Passing yards 967 1783
Avg./Game 80.6 148.6
Com-Att-Int 45-79-2 102-151-1
Total Offense 5464 5508
Avg./Game 455.3 459.0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 22-11
Total turnovers 5 12
Opp. turnovers 26 32
Turnover margin +21 +20
Penalties-yards 71-670 66-555
Punts-avg. 1-50.8 16-33.8
Points Scored 718 (59.8) 568 (48.3)
Points Yielded 132 (11.0) 75 (6.3)
RUSHING--Scott City: Buehler 141-1675 (23); Kough 37-160 (1); Wells 88-537 (12); B. O'Neil 39-223 (4); Price 27-347 (5); Banda 53-266 (4); Hess 28-172 (3). Beloit: Behymer 167-1579 (21); Niemczyk 118-1044 (12); Krone 95-878 (22); Vetter 63-431 (7).
PASSING--Scott City: B. O'Neil 96-140-1--1655 (24); T. O'Neil 3-5-0--68 (1); B. Meyer 3-5-0--60 (1). Beloit: Vetter 35-60-1 (9).
RECEIVING--Scott City: Buehler 17-380; Wells 7-107; T. O'neil 14-205; Hess 24-448; Kite 24-473; Eggleston 10-99. Beloit: Budke 15-424 (6); Niemczyk 9-173 (2); Jackson 8-148 (2).