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Sports Source: Enjoy the final game

Published 11/23/2012

Winning a state high school championship, whether it be football, basketball or one of the many other athletic contests that are held each year, holds a special memory for those involved.

Coaches, school administrators, people in the community — all will have a special memory of that accomplishment.

Nothing can match that memory for the members of the team that went out onto the field, onto the court, or whatever site is used, and were part of that team.

Winning a state championship will bond that group together for the rest of their lives.

It's kind of like kinship — once together, you're never separated.

Scott City and Meade's football teams will have that opportunity on Saturday. The Beavers will be in Hutchinson to face one of Kansas' traditional programs in Silver Lake for the Class 3A state crown. Both teams are unbeaten and ranked No. 1 and 2 in most state polls, and have been all season.

Meade goes after its second Class 2-1A title in three seasons. The Buffaloes will be seeking their fourth title since playoffs became a part of Kansas football in the 1969 season. Scott City, too, will be eying its fourth title in school history.

And while the Buffaloes have been to the title game, and won, in recent times, it's been nearly a generation since Scott City has shared in that experience.

It's been 21 seasons — dating back to 1991 — when the Beavers won their third Class 4A title in a span of four years. When you win, and win often, sometimes you take things for granted.

Football playoffs started my senior year in high school at Syracuse. We were fortunate to have a great team that season, going unbeaten through the regular season with an 8-0 record. In those incubating years of trying to figure out how playoffs should be conducted, only four teams qualified that season. Meade, with a better point average based upon a complicated system, won out over my school. The Buffs lost to eventual state champion Salina-Sacred Heart that year in the semifinals. There were five other unbeaten Class 2A teams that got to sit at home, pondering what might have been had there been the current district system.

While imperfect, the system allows every team in the state the opportunity to qualify for the postseason and determine its fate on the field of battle.

Silver Lake coach C.J. Hamilton and Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil are certainly no strangers to success.

Hamilton has coached the Eagles for 37 seasons and won seven state championships. But his teams have played in the title game nine other times and come up short. Scott City's last appearance — 1994 — resulted in a decided 28-8 loss to Paola. I'm positive nobody in the Beaver Nation thought it would be nearly two decades before they would find their way back to the championship game.

For teams to get to the promised land, to the Big Show, they have to fight their way through many obstacles — tough teams on the schedule, injuries and all the personalities that go into making a team. The successful ones are the ones that put personal goals on the back burner and focus squarely on what's best for the team.

That's what fans will see on Saturday, whether they are in Topeka watching Hutchinson try for its eighth state title in nine seasons; to see whether Bishop Carroll can run the table in Class 5A; whether Holton with coach Brooks Barta, son of the legendary Smith Coach, stay perfect in 4A; and whether the Beavers and Buffaloes can add to their memory book with a fourth school championship in Hutchinson and Hays.

Saturday will be a day of memories. And everyone should enjoy it.

Sports Editor Brett Marshall can be emailed at bmarshall@gctelegram.com

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