By BRETT MARSHALL
In a typical high school football game, you have one, perhaps two, outstanding performances.
That was not the case last Friday night in Hugoton when the Eagles unleashed a powerful running game against Holcomb and cruised home with a 62-6 Hi-Plains League Division II victory and the league title for 2009.
It was the entire backfield for coach Clint Merritt that excelled and performed on all cylinders in their easy triumph over the Longhorns. The bruising win improved their record to 6-0 heading into this week's opening of district playoffs when they travel to a dangerous Pratt (4-2) team.
But last Friday, the soaring Eagles used a relentless ground game to wear down the Longhorns. When the final horn sounded, the backfield had rolled up 475 yards rushing on just 48 attempts.
For their performance, the backfield of quarterback Zach Dunlap, fullback Caleb Gifford and halfbacks Bubba Beltz and Keithan Martin share The Garden City Telegram's Player of the Week Award.
"We had everything operating in peak performance," Merritt said after the game. "It certainly is right up there with our best effort of the season. Zach made so many good decisions on who to give the ball to and when to keep it himself."
Gifford took yardage honors, but just barely, as he rushed 24 times for 150 yards while Dunlap was right behind with 147 yards but had only nine carries. Beltz also lugged the ball nine times and finished with 117 yards while Martin, just a sophomore, had five carries for 66 yards. Everyone got into the scoring column with Gifford the pacemaker with three TDs. Beltz, Dunlap and Martin tacked on two apiece.
Other top performances from last Friday include:
Alex Swan, Scott City — 12 carries for 102 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-14 Beavers win over TMP.
Ron Baker, Scott City — Completed 5-of-7 passes for 107 yards and rushed for one touchdown.
Watson McKinney, Wichita County — Completed 23-of-33 passes for 207 yards in a 20-12 loss to Sublette.
Steve Harkness, Wichita County — Had 11 catches for 100 receiving yards in the loss to Sublette.
Tate Housholder, Syracuse — Rushed 13 times for 102 yards and one touchdown while completing 9-of-12 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns in a 19-6 victory over Elkhart.
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Telegram area Top 5
1 Scott City (6-0), defeated TMP, 55-14. The Beavers claimed the final Mid-State Activities Association championship with another dominating performance. This week...at Goodland to meet the Cowboys, another school that will be joining the new Great West Athletic Conference next year.
2 Hugoton (6-0), defeated Holcomb, 62-6. The Eagles ground up the 'Horns with 465 rushing yards, 316 of which came in the first half en route to a 35-6 halftime lead. This week...coach Clint Merritt's squad heads to Pratt for its first Class 4A district.
3 Greeley County (5-1), defeated South Gray 22-6. This week...perhaps the biggest game of the season and also the toughest for the Jackrabbits as they travel to meet unbeaten Minneola in a district matchup.
4 Garden City (4-2), lost to Wichita Northwest, 42-19. Northwest steamrolled the Buffaloes defense led by Demarcus Robinson's 260-plus yard outburst. This week...the Buffs try to get back on the winning track with their first Class 6A district game at Maize.
5 Ness/Dighton (5-1), lost 30-6 to LaCrosse. It was the first setback for the Titans, who are playing their final season as a combined team with the two schools. This week...on the road to Class 3A Norton to open district playoffs.