The four Garden City and surrounding area football teams that played last Friday in regional championship games all advanced to this week’s sectional title match-ups in their respective classes.
A week ago, only Garden City High School had to hit the road for its 24-21 win over Topeka High.
Playing in the friendly confines of their respective home fields, Holcomb, Scott City (both 4A-II) and Ingalls (8-Man II) came away with victories.
Holcomb rolled past Colby, 46-15, while Scott City had to rally against Kingman for a 21-14 triumph. Ingalls jumped out early and then dominated Pretty Prairie, 50-32, for its opening-round win.
Now, those three teams hit the road Friday and will have to earn their way into the sub-state (semifinal) rounds on Nov. 17.
Holcomb (9-1) heads to Lindsborg to face Smoky Valley (9-1), Scott City (10-0) will travel to north central Kansas and take on Clay Center (7-3) while Ingalls (7-2) has the shortest trip of the three, going to Otis-Bison (9-1), near Great Bend for its quarterfinal matchup.
Should both Holcomb and Scott City, members of the Great West Activities Conference, win Friday they would meet in the Nov. 17 semifinals, with the game to be played at Holcomb. Earlier in the season, Scott City rallied for a 23-14 victory after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter.
When teams reach deep into the high school football playoffs, there’s usually one thing that can readily be counted on.
An opponent is either really good at running the ball, or passing the ball, and on occasions very good at both.
That’s how Holcomb coach Kent Teeter sees it after three deep runs in Class 4A-II from 2014 to 2016. Now, heading into the quarterfinals this season, Teeter once again has his Longhorns primed to face an opponent that does exactly that.
The Smoky Valley Vikings like to run the ball, and run it well, Teeter said Wednesday.
“They run, and they’re good at it,” Teeter said of the Vikings, who advanced last week with a defensive-minded 12-2 victory over Wichita Collegiate. “They’re a lot like Kingman, but better. They just like to pound the ball (274.1ypg). They’re big up front, and they’re more athletic than about any line we’ve faced. They’ve got a lot of seniors.”
The ringleader of the Viking run game is Kyle Anderson (6-1, 195), who has 1,317 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. Three other runners have totaled between 320 and 470 yards, thus more than one threat.
“We’re certainly gonna have to be responsible for each of our positions, and be aware of the play-action pass,” Teeter said. “But we’ve gotten better each week, and I’m excited to see where we are right now.”
That’s because the ‘Horns are coming off a 46-15 belting of Colby, a team they blanked 27-0 back in late September.
“A lot of times when you come back and face the same team, things are closer, more unpredictable, and I thought we came out really strong (13-0 end of 1st quarter, and 33-8 at halftime), and played really, really well,” Teeter said. “We continue to try and be balanced (168.6 passing/171.7 rushing), and I think if you’re going to go really far, you’ve got to be able to do both.”
Smoky Valley, meanwhile, averages just 46.5 yards through the air.
In the rout of Colby, running back Kaden Tichenor had a career-high 161 yards on just 11 carries, all in the first half, with a pair of touchdowns to spark the early romp.
“Defensively, we’ve been playing at a higher level each of the last few weeks, and this is the time of year to do that,” Teeter said.
Class 4A-II/Scott City
For the Beavers and second-year head coach Jim Turner, getting to the quarterfinals was not exactly smooth sailing, as they had to once again rally from an early deficit, and then score the winning touchdown with just under four minutes left in the 21-14 triumph over Kingman.
“The kids did a good job, made some very good adjustments in the second half,” Turner said Wednesday. “The early turnovers (three fumbles, one interception) certainly didn’t allow us to get off to a good start. We had to get things straightened out. We blew some assignments, but then I think we did a very good job in the second half (shutout of the Eagles).”
The rally against Kingman was the third time this season the Beavers have been down early, then answered the call in the second half.
“We’ve been resilient and you like that from your players,” Turner said.
The Tigers themselves came up with a late touchdown to trip Nickersn, 21-20, to reach the quarterfinals.
“They run some of the same sets as we do, but the look is a little different,” Turner said of the Tigers. “We haven’t seen that kind of option. They run all sorts of options, but that’s what you’ll see on nearly every play…option, option, option.”
That triple threat comes from Peyton Lane (816 yds., 14tds); Caleb Mendum (649 yds., 7 tds) and Levi Pfizenmaier (649 yds., 4 tds). As a result, the Tigers’ passing game has seen little action as Layne has hit just 32 of 71 passes (484 yds., 4tds, 10 int).
“You just have to be prepared, but no doubt they play off their running game,” Turner said.
Turner said it was difficult to get a complete read on the Tigers defense.
“Scores really don’t tell you anything but any team who gets this far does a lot of things well,” Turner said.
When the 2017 season got underway back in August, second-year head coach Vestal Teeter just wasn’t sure how quickly his youthful squad would mature.
Well, nine games later, he has his answers as the 7-2 Bulldogs have reached the quarterfinals of the 8-Man II playoffs after losing key players to graduation following an 8-2 campaign.
It marks the fifth straight season for the ‘Dogs to make it into the postseason.
“We lost some quality kids who had been 3-and-4-year starters,” Teeter said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
The Bulldogs will hit the road to Otis-Bison for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff, with the winner advancing to the western division semifinals on Nov. 17 against the Hodgeman County-South Barber quarterfinal winner.
“We’re still awfully young, so I knew we’d need to have some underclassmen step up, and they have,” Teeter said. “We’ve always set goals to make the playoffs, and then have the ultimate goal of playing in the state (championship) game.”
The Bulldogs, as they have done for several years now, look to establish the running game first, and this year they have averaged 204.6 yards per game while passing for just 80.5 yards.
Senior Mikel Osborne, who switched from slotback to running back, leads the run game with 1,132 yards and 16 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback, who Teeter says has made great strides this season, has thrown for just 530 yards, but keys the offense.
“Tim has stepped in and been able to get hold of our offense much quicker than you’d expect of a sophomore,” Teeter said of Gillen. “He’s still learning, but he’s got two more years and I’m excited about that prospect.
“Mikel has made the adjustment really well from slot to running back, and our (freshman) new slotback (Tate Davis) has done a good job of blocking, and then going in motion and being in the right place at the end of each play.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs have been somewhat of a bend-but-don’t break group.
“The key for us is to be able to shut down people’s outside run, and if we can do that, then we’ve been pretty good stopping the inside run of many teams,” Teeter said. “That’s going to be key for us against Otis-Bison.”
The Cougars bring in their own version of a potent running game, keyed by quarterback Anton Foust, who has rushed for 966 yards (18 TDs) and passed for 710 yards (15 TDs, 2 INT). Running back Blake Bahr has 998 yards and 19 TDs.
“We’ve got to contain those two and funnel them to the inside,” Teeter said of the game plan against the Cougars. “If we don’t do that, it will be a long night. They’re one of the best teams in western Kansas and we’ll have to play our best…and then it’s a 50-50 shot for us to win.”