CIMARRON — When the Cimarron Bluejays lost a late lead against Holcomb to start the season, the players were visibly upset because they knew they had their chances.
But new coach Greg Koenig would not let them dwell on the loss. Minutes after the loss, Koenig — the fourth head coach for Cimarron in the past four seasons — told them this: "Hurt in the moment but remember the lesson."
Ten weeks later, Cimarron was hosting a first-round playoff game, facing a seasoned Hoisington Cardinals team. The Jays’ ran into a tough defense as the Cardinals pulled off a 47-22 win, ending Cimarron’s season.
Sean Urban was a one-man wrecking crew, scoring three times in the first half and three more in the second half to lead the Cardinal attack, topping his season-high game by one touchdown.
The Cardinals capitalized quickly after the 'Jays fumbled on the first play of the game.
Urban scored on the second play from scrimmage following that fumble, rambling 26 yards, breaking two tackles before outrunning the defense to the end zone.
His second score came on a 46-yard run on the third play of drive two, with Urban running a similar play.
Urban’s third score came on the first play of the second period, a short 3-yard run to put the Cardinals up 22-0.
Cimarron got on the board after forcing Hoisington to punt from its end zone and the 'Jays started at the Cardinals’ 33.
Quarterback Dylan Harrison hit three straight passes, the last two to Jaylen Pickle, the final for a 13-yard strike wide open up the left side.
By halftime, what had been a potent Jays’ running attack had just 27 yards on 18 carries.
Rudy Gearhart (37 yards) and Urban (10 yards) increased Hoisington’s lead to 34-8 at the end of three.
Urban scored from a yard out early in the fourth to increase the lead to 41-8.
He finished off the Cardinals’ scoring when he went untouched 69 yards at the 10:02 mark.
Hoisington finished with 333 yards, all on the ground on 39 carries.
Cimarron scored twice more. Harrison scored from nine yards out on a quarterback keeper.
Fittingly, senior Josh Seabolt got Cimarron’s final score on his final carry, a 1-yard plunge with 5:03 to play.
Seabolt finished the game with 110 yards rushing on 24 carries.
For the season, he had 1,598 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“Hoisington’s just tough,” Seabolt said. “They’re fast; they’re strong; they’re powerful. They dominate the line of scrimmage.”
That was one key for Cimarron coming into this game, he said.
“In order to be successful on the ground, we had to dominate the line of scrimmage. We struggled. They had six guys on the line and we had to change up our game plan,” Seabolt said.
Koenig had nothing but praise for the way Hoisington approached this game.
“Their speed killed us,” he said. “They’re a very powerful, very physical team. We just couldn’t match their speed at all.”
The Cardinals beat the 'Jays to the point on both offensive and defensive lines, he added.
“We just couldn’t block on their linebackers and safeties. They run to the ball; their pursuit is just absolutely amazing,” Koenig said. “We had a hard time maintaining drives.”
The Jays had averaged 351 yards a game on the ground using the double-tight end, double-wing offense, scoring 50 touchdowns.
Tuesday, they managed just 186 yards of total offense. Despite that, Koenig was proud of his team’s progress.
Koenig, who was 93-11 in 11 seasons with Beloit, said his Bluejays rode heart and hustle into the playoffs. After dropping two of its first three games, the Jays reeled off six straight wins heading into Tuesday against a team that finished 12-1 last year (11-1 the previous year), getting to the semifinals.
“Every day we start our practice asking, ‘What’s our purpose? Get better,’” Koenig said. “They really bought into that idea, worked their butts off in the weight room for us. Worked their butts off on the practice field. We have nothing but praise for our kids.”
He said they got beat by a better football team Tuesday, but he said Cimarron is headed in the right direction.
“The seniors set a good foundation,” he said. “Now it’s up to everyone else to fill in.”