HOLCOMB — Holcomb football coach Kent Teeter loves to watch the early evening sunsets at the Longhorns’ practice field as soon as daylight savings times kicks in the first weekend of November.
It’s been the norm for the Longhorns since Teeter took the reins of the football program in 2014, with November sunsets indicating they are moving along in the bracket of the Class 4A-II postseason playoffs.
Friday, just a little more than 24 hours before the time changes back one hour, the Longhorns assured themselves of at least one more week of November sunset practices.
Thanks to a lightning-like offense, a smothering defense and big plays on both sides of the ball, the Longhorns stormed past Great West Activities Conference foe Colby, 46-15, at HHS Stadium.
The victory improved the ‘Horns record to 9-1, and they will now hit the road for next Friday’s sectional championship, heading east to Lindsborg, where they will take on Smoky Valley, a 12-2 winner over Wichita Collegiate Friday night.
It didn’t take the Longhorns any time at all to establish their dominance over the out-classed Eagles, scoring on their first two possessions of the opening quarter.
Reece Morss put the Longhorns on the board first with a 1-yard plunge with 7:56 remaining, and then it was Kaden Tichenor’s turn on the next offensive drive, racing 27 yards. Chance Rodriguez was 1-of-2 on PAT kicks, making it 13-0 with 3:24 still to go.
Tichenor had his biggest rushing totals of his career, rambling for 161 yards on 11 carries, all in the first half.
“We’ve just been coming in and out, switching up a lot,” Tichenor said of he and Morss’ share of the running game. “Whoever has the hot hand is the one who’s been staying in, and I guess it was me tonight. The O-line did a great job of opening holes, and I’ve been working on my cuts, and they’ve been making big blocks.”
Tichenor added an 18-yard TD early in the second quarter, making it 19-0.
“I’ve moved around a lot but have just gotten comfortable running the ball well into the season,” Tichenor said. “We knew early after the loss to Scott City (23-14 in Week 2) that we’d have to change some things, and we’ve just kind of hit our stride the last few weeks.”
Then, it was Trey Gilbert to Andrew Morss on a 42-yard sideline sprint route for another score at 7:01, making it 26-0.
Caeden Spencer picked off Colby’s Zach Hart on the first play following, and it took the Longhorns just four plays to go 23 yards, with Reece Morss bulling his way in from the 1.
Only a 65-yard burst for a TD by Colby’s Calvin Stapp prevented a near-perfect first half for the Longhorns, leaving them comfortably ahead 33-8 after Jordan Schippers 2-point conversion run.
The rout continued quickly in the third quarter, when state champion 300-meter hurdler Carter Blackburn took the opening kickoff back 82 yards for a score, making it 39-8. Late in the third, the Longhorns tacked on one final score, this one on a crossing pattern from Gilbert to Rodriguez that covered 21 yards.
“It was just a quick slant, and then all I saw was green (grass),” said Rodriguez, who had a game-high 6 catches for 99 yards. “The O-line was blocking great — the defense was flying around. We’re a lot more confident than we were earlier in the season. We started off slow, but we’ve been getting better and better every week.”
For Teeter, the key was the blitzkrieg at the start, and being able to put the game away early.
“We were really good at the beginning on both sides,” Teeter said. “I can’t say enough about how much this group has improved. The offensive line has gotten a lot better, we’re starting to throw the ball better, too. We wanted to establish the run with some different looks, and we were able to do that.”
Teeter also said the defense continued its recent strong showing, too, with the exception of the one long run by Stapp near the end of the first half, and then the Eagles’ Hart getting a 2-yard TD with just 23 ticks on the clock against the Holcomb reserves.
“It’s good that we could get a lot of the young kids in and give some of our starters a breather,” Teeter said.
Now it’s another week of November sunset practice, and next up are the Vikings of Smoky Valley.