Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Orrick now a team that always wins, not loses

To understand just how far the Orrick High School football team has come, look no further than Elliott Rice.

You see, in this town of around 800 people, things haven’t always been this joyous when the topic turns to football.

At the start of the 2000 season, Orrick was mired in a 25-game losing streak and had won just one game in three seasons. And most of those losses weren’t even close.

Now, though, things have changed — dramatically.

The Bearcats, 14-0, play Thayer, 12-1, at 1 p.m. todayin the Missouri Class 1 state championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The Bearcats are going for their second straight title and own the state’s longest active winning streak at 28 games. And most of those wins weren’t even close.

For Rice, especially, the turnaround is dramatic.

“I was thinking it was going to take a miracle and some move-in kids from the city, kids who didn’t want to play for Blue Springs South or Raymore-Peculiar,” Rice said. “I thought it was going to take unbelievable athletes to get to this point.”

Turns out it just took some hard work, something folks in Orrick know all about. It all started with the arrival of Orrick’s current head coach, Pat Richard.

He showed up for his first meeting with the Orrick players in a suit, a far cry from his usual wind suit pants, T-shirt and yellow visor. But he was there to work, and there was plenty of work to be done.

Richard likes to tell the story of how one of his players described the fan base before he arrived in 2000.

“One of my old running backs used to say there were family members ... and family members here, that was it,” Richard said.

And frankly who could blame the fan base? It wasn’t uncommon for Orrick to be down by 50 points at halftime.

Rice, who spent five years in the Marines after high school, jokes that it was so bad he thinks he may have endured a type of posttraumatic stress disorder from the football beatdowns he took from opponent Santa Fe in high school.

“I would have dreams that they were putting 85 points up on us,” Rice said.

As bad as things were, though, Richard remembered seeing something in that young group that laid the groundwork for what would slowly turn into one of the strongest programs in the state.

The 25 players that came out for that first team had faith, perhaps not in themselves, but at least in Richard and his assistant coach Bryan O’Dell, a farmer and former Orrick football player himself.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Richard said. “We came in with the belief that we could change it and we could build something. The great thing about the first year is that we had 25 guys, and we had 25 guys who truly believed that we were going to accomplish something pretty special.”

Orrick won its first game with Richard as head coach and notched three wins the first season.

Two years later they achieved a coveted win over Santa Fe, Orrick’s first win over the Class 1 powerhouse in 21 years. They made the playoffs the next two seasons and haven’t looked back.

The Bearcats won eight games in 2004, eight in 2005 and 11 in 2006, losing to the eventual state champions. Since then it has been nothing but victories.

Seating is at a premium at Orrick home games, and it isn’t uncommon for Orrick to have more fans than home teams do when the Bearcats go on the road.

“Its incredible, we have come so far,” said Leanne Jones, whose son Clayton plays for Orrick. “It’s such a family atmosphere. It’s so good to go to other schools and we’ll have a bigger crowd than the home team, and that’s neat.”

Richard and the Bearcats see just how much the team supports them when they look over their shoulders at practice. Behind them is a new grandstand that holds more than double the amount of fans as the old bleachers.

Those were partially paid for by the Orrick Quarterback Club, which formed last year and already has 82 members, or 10 percent of the town’s population.

Jones and Richard both said the Orrick community realizes just how special a run this football team is on.

“I think coming from where we were at to where we are now makes it even more special,” Richard said. “What a ride. It’s all due to the community and the hard work of these kids. If we were anywhere else, I don’t know if we would have been able to do it.”

MISSOURI CLASS 1 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP •WHO: Orrick, 14-0, vs. Thayer, 12-1

•WHEN/WHERE: 1 p.m. today at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis


submitted by COLE YOUNG

Orrick wins Class 1 football title in double overtime

ST. LOUIS | The folks in Orrick will be talking about this one for a while. Maybe forever.

It was the second straight Class 1 title for the Bearcats, who finished their season 15-0 and extended their winning streak to 29 games. But this one certainly wasn’t as easy as the 1-yard game-winning score by Joe Kaufman.

“It was the most dramatic football game I’ve ever been a part of it in all my time around the game,” Orrick coach Pat Richard said. “I don’t know if you are going to find more heart than what you saw on the field today.”

The two teams battled for more than 47 1/2 minutes to a 14-14 tie.

With 17 seconds left in regulation, Logan Eubank scored on a 16-yard run around the left side. After the two-point conversion failed, Orrick still held a 20-14 lead and seemed destined for its second straight state title.

Thayer, however, wasn’t done.

With 10 seconds left in the game, Jacob Eckman completed a 62-yard touchdown pass to Lance Schneider.

As Eckman was thrown to the turf by Orrick’s Leslee Eubank, he heard the roar of the crowd, but he wasn’t sure it was for his team.

“I thought either my guy caught it or they picked it off, something had to have happened, but I didn’t know what,” Eckman said.

The touchdown tied the game at 20-20 with no time left in regulation. At that point, Thayer opted to try for an extra point, but the kick was low and wide left.

It was then that Orrick felt the momentum that had been sucked from its sideline slowly return.

Kaufman completed his first pass of the day to Matt O’Dell on Orrick’s first possession in overtime. O’Dell ran into Calvin O’Dell, who eventually ended up with the ball in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown.

“He had never played tight end before in his life,” Richard said of Calvin O’Dell. “He’s a guard, but we moved him over there after (Aaron Blyth) got hurt. I knew Matt was open. Joe made a good enough throw, and Calvin happened to be there, and we ended up making a lucky play.”

Thayer answered on a 1-yard touchdown run by Joshua Huckabee.

Eckman added the game-tying two-point conversion, sending the game to the second overtime.

At that point, the Orrick defense stiffened.

On third and 8, Orrick defensive back Clayton Jones intercepted an Eckman pass, ending Thayer’s possession.

Richard couldn’t speak highly enough of Jones, who earlier was on the side of the defense that gave up the game-tying touchdown at the end of regulation.

“The beauty of the game of football is you can make 100 mistakes in the first half of the game and you can make one play in the second half that matters, that is a ballgame-changing play,” Richard said. “Does anyone remember the 100? No. Clayton Jones had two huge plays that he didn’t make, but Clayton Jones made the play when it mattered.”

The interception gave Orrick the ball on the Thayer 25.

Orrick used seven plays to score the game-winning touchdown, including four runs by Kaufman.

Kaufman finished the game with 90 yards in 24 carries and three touchdowns. Heading into the game he had just 152 yards in 36 carries.

“I think deep down I knew my time would come in the state championship game,” Kaufman said.

Cougars look to establish winning tradition

Monday, December 1, 2008 2:42 AM EST

Tri-County QB Lucas (9) Mistler follows the block of Chad Todesco (44) against Holbrook/Avon. (Staff photo by Tom Maguire)
Cougars look to establish winning tradition

FRANKLIN - Could this be a harbinger of things to come for the football program at Tri-County Regional High School?

Amidst the cult of tradesmen, more than a handful of athletes have put on shoulder pads and helmets and laced up their shoes to become league champions, to become Super Bowl contenders.

The winning has become contagious - seven straight now for the Cougars, who will meet Pope John High of Everett in the semifinal round of the MIAA Division 4 playoffs Tuesday (7:15 p.m.) at Taunton High School.

"The first ever outright league (Mayflower) championship, the first ever playoff berth, this is stuff we've always dreamed about," said Tri-County High coach Dan MacLean, whose Cougars won the Small School Division title and eight games along the road to the postseason.

In winning seven straight games, the Cougars have allowed just six points (to Nantucket) over the past four games, along with shutouts of Diman Voke, Holbrook and Old Colony. In winning seven straight games, the Cougars have outscored their foes 146-46.

Senior quarterback Lucas Mistler has piled up a single-season Cougar rushing record in excess of 1,200 yards and added nearly another 800 throwing the ball.

But, the Cougars have other weapons too, like senior wide receiver Jarred Gaumond, like senior receiver-runner Mike Foster, like senior running back Shawn Roche.

"We've been able to hold onto the ball and execute," added MacLean of the Tri-County offense. "We've had some nice, sustained drives, like against Holbrook and Old Colony. We're taking care of the ball and moving the chains."

Mistler has had a spectacular season, being able to read defenses, being able to make the right decisions, being able to protect possession of the football.

"Foster is a small kid, but he's been our go-to guy," added MacLean. "He gets through the line and goes. And Roche might be the best blocking back that I've coached - he hits you and you feel it."

The Cougars will need to protect the ball and be proficient with it against a Pope John team (7-4) which likes to grind it out on the ground and take time off the clock.

Pope John, coached by Chris Buckley, takes a six-game win streak into the semifinal round, not having lost since a 30-12 decision to St. Mary's of Lynn in October. The key players are junior running back Justin Nascimento and senior quarterback Nick Loiselle.

"They remind us a lot of Southeastern," said MacLean, reviewing game film and watching Pope John beat Lowell Catholic 30-20 on Thanksgiving Day to clinch the Catholic Conference's Small School Division title and the playoff berth.

"They run a lot of misdirection with the quarterback, some variations of the single-wing," added MacLean. "They like to pound the ball, but they also have some speed. They have two or three big guys up front, but they don't have a lot of numbers (lack of depth). "They like to find the hole and grind it up the middle. So for us, our defense has to be on its toes. We have to continue to be aggressive and be physical, like we've been over the past month."

The Cougars have spent the past three days practicing on the artificial surface at Franklin High School, thanks to Panther AD Brad Sidwell. Other than a non-league game (and loss) to Shawsheen Regional, the Cougars have not played on a clean surface.

If anything, it might aid the Cougars. "The game is a little bit faster on turf, which is good for us," said MacLean. "We can either pound the ball or go outside."

What the Cougars also to have going for them is the excitement of extending their season, the excitement of school spirit (several busloads of students and fans), the excitement that this could be the start of Tri-County as a Small School Division annual title contender in the Mayflower League.

"The kids are very excited about playing, they've been very business-like and focused in practice," added MacLean. "You have to remember this is all unchartered territory for us."

St. Louis Rams need to be wary of Dolphins' Wildcat offense

By Jim Thomas

Miami scored a total of 24 points in season-opening losses to the New York Jets and Arizona. The Dolphins averaged only 60 yards rushing and 3.0 yards per carry in those games.

Coming off a 1-15 season, it looked like the same old Dolphins. Then rookie head coach Tony Sparano decided to go wild(cat).

"We had the idea at the end of the second game, when things didn't go so well in Arizona, that we needed to maybe give our offense something that they could put their arms around," Sparano said. "And also try to create a little bit of space, some misdirections ... and get Ricky (Williams) and Ronnie (Brown) on the field at the same time."

So they sprung the "Wildcat" formation on the unsuspecting New England Patriots in Game 3. The Dolphins' running game — and their season — hasn't been the same since. In the Wildcat, the quarterback splits out like a wide receiver, and the running back takes a direct snap from the center in the shotgun.

The Patriots and their guru of a head coach, Bill Belichick, didn't know what hit them. The Dolphins rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns to spring a 38-13 upset. Starting with that game, Miami has won six of nine to play itself into playoff contention.

"It's an old single-wing type concept in terms of the running game," Rams defensive coordinator Rick Venturi said. "The runs look a little different because they're not handed off. There's some misdirection looks up in there."

And beware of the forward pass. Brown tied a franchise record with four rushing TDs in that New England game, and he also threw a 19-yard TD pass. He thus became only the second player in NFL history to score four rushing TDs and throw a TD pass in the same game.

The other? Paddy Driscoll of the Chicago Cardinals in an Oct. 7, 1923 game against the Rochester Jeffersons.

Miami quarterbacks coach David Lee, a native of Dexter, Mo., ran the Wildcat with Darren McFadden at the University of Arkansas. The Dolphins worked on it during spring practices, so it was part of their overall offensive package.

It has been a regular part of their offense since the Patriots game in September.

"It's been anywhere from eight to 20 plays (per game)," Venturi said. "You have no idea how many it's going to be. It's like an alternate offense right in the middle of the game, and you have to adapt to it because you don't know when it's coming. It's not like they substitute (personnel) to get in it."

The Dolphins were ranked 26th in total offense after the two pre-Wildcat games. Since instituting the Wildcat, they've risen to No. 8. All told, they've run 67 plays out of the Wildcat, averaging 6.6 yards per play. In 675 plays in their conventional offense, the Dolphins are averaging 5.8 yards per play.

In the Wildcat, Brown has 40 carries for 233 yards and five TDs; Williams has 22 carries for 145 yards and one TD.

In a copycat league like the NFL, lots of teams are using a little Wildcat in their offense. But nobody runs it as often, or as successfully, as the Dolphins.

"These guys are the poster boys, I mean, they've done a terrific job with it," Venturi said. "It's a little bit different in terms of how plays look. They're really the same plays that you would see, but without the handoff, they look different."

And playing defense in the NFL is all about recognition and reaction. The Rams' defense spent a lot of time working against the Wildcat in practice during the week.

"You've got to be really sound in what you're doing defensively," coach Jim Haslett said. "Because if one guy is out of his gap, that's when you see these big long runs they've been having."

DeSoto rallies past defending champion Glenbrook 30-20 for Academy A title

PELAHATCHIE — The few. The proud. The Thunderbirds.

Ask DeSoto (Ark.) senior quarterback about his team's fourth quarter dominance Saturday, and he points to the teams strength and conditioning program under the direction of assistant coach ex-Marine Ben Pittman.

"The second half has been our half all year," said Coleman. "He trained us hard and it pays off in the second half. Everybody else is worn down and we're still going."

That was surely the case Saturday afternoon as DeSoto rallied for three fourth quarter touchdowns in a 30-20 come-from-behind victory over Glenbrook (La.) in the Mississippi Private School Association Academy A championship game at a muddy Moody Davis Field at East Rankin Academy in Pelahatchie.

It was the first MPSA title for the Thundebirds (13-1), ranked No. 4 in The Clarion-Ledger Academy A rankings. (DeSoto won the North A title in 1971 when there was no Academy A playoffs that year.)

"I just attribute it to the kids," said DeSoto coach Bill Beck, an Ethel High and Mississippi State grad. "It was just a total team effort. It's been that way all season. It's not any one guy you can pick out. Every game it's just somebody else who steps up. Our kids played real hard. I am real proud for them and our community."

DeSoto was making its first title game appearance since 1992. And early on, it appeared the Thunderbirds may have to make the 3-1/2 hour trip back to West Helena, (Ark.) empty-handed again.

Third-ranked Glenbrook, the defending Academy A champion, never trailed in the first half and took a 20-8 lead with six minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter on a 50-yard pass from Hunter Leppert to Jack Jiles.

But it was all DeSoto after that.

Coleman connected with Dylan Cruz on a 37-yard scoring play on the first play of the fourth quarter. Coleman's 7-yard run just two minutes later gave the Thunderbirds their first lead (23-20). The final score, a two-yard run by Cruz, capped off a six minute drive that started with 7:35 left and ended with just 50 seconds left.

DeSoto finished 13-1, with its lone loss coming to Tupelo Christian.

Glenbrook (12-3) was hoping to become the first Academy A team to repeat since Heidelberg Academy went back-to-back in 2002-03.

"(Quarterback) Hunter Lepert played with a torn ACL and (receiver Jake) Byrd broke his leg last week so that put a major dent in what we could do," said Glenbrook coach Jerry Almond. "We kinda kept it quiet so nobody really knew. But you have to give it to DeSoto. They came hard and they played hard. They are an awesome football team. I am proud of my games for playing hard under the circumstances. We just came up short."

Jiles rushed for 99 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown run for the Apaches. Leppert threw for 100 yards.

Coleman, meanwhile, completed 8 of 12 passes for 161 yards for the Thunderbirds, who outgained the Apaches 325-220.

"This is the greatest feeling in the world," said Coleman. "Everybody played together and played the best games of their lives today."

DeSoto Thunderbirds Win State

Apaches fall one game short
Written by Gregg Parks
Monday, 01 December 2008
Glenbrook loses to DeSoto in MPSA title game

PELAHATCHIE, MISS. — The Glenbrook Apaches quest for back-to-back MPSA State Championships in football fell one game short, as they lost the title game to the DeSoto Thunderbirds, 30-20, Saturday afternoon.

Glenbrook led for most of the game, but DeSoto put up 22 fourth quarter points to pull out the win.

“You have to give it to DeSoto,” Glenbrook head coach Jerry Almond said. “They played a great game. I’m proud of our guys, they played hard. We just came up short.”

Glenbrook led 20-8 going into the fourth quarter, but the Apaches had no answer for DeSoto quarterback Will Coleman. Coleman, a Tim Tebow clone, led DeSoto on three scoring drives in the fourth quarter. For the game, Coleman rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown and passed for 164 yards and another score.

Things started off well for Glenbrook, as they took the opening kick-off and drove 53 yards for the games first touchdown.

Will Samuel fielded the kick-off and returned it to the Apaches’ 47-yard line. On first down, Apache quarterback Hunter Leppert hit Samuel in the middle for a 16-yard gain. Running back Jack Jiles took the second play hand off around the left end for a 24-yard gain to the DeSoto 13-yard line. David Thompson then bulled up the middle for a 12-yard gain to the one-yard line. Two plays later, Preston Wise carried it over for the score.

On the extra point try, Glenbrook lined up as if they were going to kick the extra point. But on the snap, the holder (Leppert) pitched the ball forward to tackle Luke Ritchie who was pulling from the left side. Ritchie caught the ball and rambled in for the two-point conversion.

The quick Glenbrook touchdown didn’t faze DeSoto, as they quickly struck back to tie the game. After the Thunderbirds returned the kick-off to the 46-yard line, Coleman kept up the middle for 24 yards. On second down, Coleman handed the ball to Dylan Cruz, and Cruz ran through the middle of the Apache defense for a 30-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion tied the score at 8-8.

The Apaches answered right back. Taking over on their 42-yard line after the kick-off, the Apaches lost three yards on first down. But on second down, Leppert handed the ball to Jiles who headed into the left side of the Glenbrook offensive line. Jiles was met by a defender and was stacked up in the backfield, but Jiles reset himself, broke through a couple of tackles and busted into the DeSoto secondary. Jiles then cut towards the Glenbrook sideline as he hit the DeSoto 45-yard line, and then sprinted the rest of the way for the 62-yard touchdown. The Apaches’ two-point try failed, but they led 14-8.

The Thunderbird offense, a combination of the Florida spread and the old school single wing formation, confused Glenbrook early. But the Apaches stepped up and forced DeSoto to punt on their next four possessions of the first half. But unfortunately, the Glenbrook offense also punted on their next three possessions of the first half.

Glenbrook led 14-8 going into the third quarter, and neither team did anything with their first possessions of the second half.

DeSoto took over on their own 20-yard line and began to move the ball. Running plays by Cruz, Coleman and Cody Manning moved the ball out to the 40-yard line. Then Coleman kept the ball on a run around left end, and as he attempted to break a tackle, Apache linebacker Jack Marchand hit him and stripped the ball loose. Samuel then fell on the ball on the 50-yard line for Glenbrook.

Glenbrook then went for the big play. Leppert took the shotgun snap and faked a screen pass to the right. After he pumped the ball, Leppert turned and looked deep for Jiles who was running a fly route. Leppert heaved the ball downfield where Jiles caught it and ran into the end zone for the score. The two-point try was no good, but Glenbrook led 20-8 with 6:32 left in the third quarter.

Neither team scored again until the first drive of the fourth quarter, when DeSoto cut the lead to 20-15 when Coleman hit Cruz on a 37-yard touchdown pass.

DeSoto forced Glenbrook to punt on the next possession, and then took over on their own 37-yard line. On first down, Coleman hit a receiver on a crossing route across the middle that he took down to the Glenbrook seven-yard line. Two plays later, Coleman carried it in from nine yards out to give DeSoto their first lead of the game at 23-20.

Glenbrook started their next possession on their 27-yard line with 9:32 left in the game. On first down, Jiles looked to run off tackle but the hole wasn’t there and he was dropped for a five-yard loss. On second and 15, Leppert hit Wise for a 13-yard gain. Jiles was held for no gain on third down, forcing the Apaches to go for it on fourth down. Leppert dropped back and faced some pressure as he threw downfield. Leppert’s pass fell just beyond the reach of a diving Peter Wise and Glenbrook turned the ball over to DeSoto.

DeSoto then ran the next six-plus minutes off the clock as they drove down to score the touchdown that put the game away. Cruz scored on a two-yard run to make it 30-20.

Glenbrook would get one more possession with under a minute to play, but couldn’t do anything with it, and the game ended with the 30-20 score.

Jiles led the Apaches with 97 yards on 17 carries and Preston Wise carried three times for 22 yards. Thompson added 12 yards as Glenbrook rushed for a total of 120 yards in the game.

Leppert finished seven of 15 for 99 yards and a score. Jiles caught two balls for 54 yards and a score, Samuel had two for 22 and Preston Wise had two for 10. Peter Wise caught one pass for 14-yards.

Turnovers doom Eagles against Conway Springs

Silver Lake watches 3A state football crown slip away

By Scott Paske
The Capital-Journal
Published Sunday, November 30, 2008

HUTCHINSON — As his teammates gathered their belongings and exited Silver Lake's locker room Saturday afternoon, quarterback Tyler Roberts sat motionless on a chair in the middle of the room.

Eyes downward, Roberts acknowledged occasional hugs and handshakes before launching a lukewarm attempt at unwrapping the athletic tape from his shoes.
"It's amazing how fast it can just slip away from you," Roberts said after Conway Springs rallied past Silver Lake 22-14 to win the Class 3A championship at Gowans Stadium. "We're leading 14-6 with nine minutes to go, and it just shifted like that."

Roberts, a senior, pointed to his role in Conway Springs' charge to its sixth state title, all since 1998. With the Eagles (13-1) up by eight points and driving in Conway Springs territory, Roberts fumbled on the third play of the fourth quarter and the Cardinals' Austin Pauly recovered.

It was the first of two fourth-quarter turnovers that doomed Silver Lake to its sixth loss in seven consecutive title-game appearances.

"That was the biggest turning point in the game right there," said Roberts, who passed for 136 yards and a touchdown. "It gave them hope."

Conway Springs (12-2), held in check with its single-wing offense through three quarters, erased its deficit with a 13-play drive that ended with the first of two touchdowns by senior Jaydan Bird. Bird, who plans to sign with Oklahoma in February, finished with 182 yards on 31 carries. He gained 99 in the final period, including a 37-yard touchdown with 3:24 remaining that gave the Cardinals the lead.

"It seemed like they were starting to pull away a little bit," said Bird, who also hauled in an improbable two-point conversion pass from Pauly after penalties pushed the ball back to Silver Lake's 28. "Then we started creating plays on defense and getting the ball back and giving our offense a chance. Our offensive line did a tremendous job and started blocking the people they needed to block."

After the Cardinals tied the score, Silver Lake's ensuing drive halted when Roberts couldn't get the handle on a third-down shotgun snap and covered it at the Eagles' 8. A 32-yard punt gave Conway Springs the ball with 4:45 to play.

Three plays later, Bird took a snap and headed left, breaking away from Silver Lake's D.J. Johnson and Keenan Kruger on his way to the end zone.

"I don't think we got wore out," said Silver Lake coach C.J. Hamilton, whose team lost a title game to Conway for the fourth time this decade, leaving him tied for second with Sedan's Les Davis on the state's career coaching list with 308 victories. "We just didn't handle the bad situations. I just felt like we were looking around to see who was going to make plays."

Silver Lake, which built its lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Roberts to Quin Bruce in the second quarter and a 2-yard run by Cameron Renfro late in the third, started strong on its final drive. Roberts connected with Bruce for 14 yards, then moved the ball near midfield with a 13-yard pass to Adam Wetzel. But on the next play, Conway's Joey Dugan stripped the ball from Renfro and the Cardinals' Caleb Brill recovered to end the threat with 2:52 remaining.

Bird and Brill churned out two first downs to help Conway Springs seal its first state title since winning four straight from 2001-04.

"We might not have been getting 10 or 15 yards a play, but we were getting 3 or 4," Bird said. "Just enough so we could get first downs and move the chains. We knew we were going to score sometime."

The Cardinals finished with a 301-221 advantage in total offense. In the fourth quarter, Conway Springs ran 22 plays for 127 yards. Silver Lake had nine plays for 36 yards.

"We felt like we had a good shot," Hamilton said. "We felt good going into the game, but you've got to finish it. If you don't finish the game against the caliber of teams you play here, that's exactly what's going to happen."

Silver Lake (13-1) 0 7 7 0 — 14

Conway Springs (12-2) 0 6 0 16 — 22

SL — Bruce 25 pass from Roberts (Abrahams kick)

CS — Green 55 pass from A. Pauly (kick failed)

SL — Renfro 2 run (Abrahams kick)

CS — Byrd 1 run (Byrd run)

CS — Byrd 37 run (Byrd pass from A. Pauly)



First downs 11 13

Rushes-yards 28-85 55-228

Passing yards 136 73

Passes 9-16-0 2-2-0

Fumbles-lost 3-2 0-0

Punts-Avg. 5-30.6 5-29.2

Penalties-yards 7-52 8-65


RUSHING — Silver Lake: Renfro 16-81, Wetzel 3-18, Roberts 9-(-14). Conway Springs: Byrd 31-182, Brill 18-36, A. Pauly 2-4, Sones 3-4, N. Pauly 1-2.

PASSING — Silver Lake: Roberts 9-16-0, 136 yards. Conway Springs: A. Pauly 1-1-0, 55 yards; Brill 1-1-0, 18.

RECEIVING — Silver Lake: Bruce 6-90, Wetzel 2-22, Renfro 1-24. Conway Springs: Green 2-73.

PUNTING — Silver Lake: Roberts 5-30.6. Conway Springs: Byrd 5-29.2.

Conway Springs WINS the 3A title!

High School Football State Championship Saturday

WICHITA, Kan. -- Smith Center set a state record with their 67th consecutive victory, a 48-13 win over Smith Center in the 2-1A championship in Hays. The Redmen (13-0) win their fifth consecutive state championship, which ties Lawrence and Hutchinson for the longest state championship streaks in state history

After winning four straight 6A championships, Hutchinson added a 5A title to their collection. The Salt Hawks defeated St. Thomas Aquinas 38-0.

Conway Springs won the 3A title, their sixth overall and first since 2004. The Cardinals scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to beat Silver Lake 22-14.

Junction City beat Lawrence Free State, 19-14, for the 6A championship.

Topeka Hayden won the 4A title with a 42-21 win over Perry-Lecompton.
click to watch video

Eagles, Cardinals will reunite in 3A battle Eagles

By Brent Maycock
The Capital-Journal
Published Saturday, November 29, 2008
Things have come full circle for Silver Lake and Conway Springs.

When Silver Lake travels to Hutchinson's Gowans Stadium for today's 1 p.m. Class 3A state championship football game, it will mark the seventh straight year the Eagles have played for the title. It's a feeling that never gets old.

"We hope it doesn't get old," Silver Lake coach C.J. Hamilton said.

The feeling may not get old, but this year's game does have a rather familiar feel to it. Standing between undefeated Silver Lake (13-0) and its second state title in three years and seventh overall is Conway Springs (11-2). The same Cardinals that triumphed against Silver Lake in three straight title games at the start of Silver Lake's championship-game streak.

Conway won a classic 27-19 battle in 2002 and then roughed up the Eagles 40-7 in 2003 and 28-0 in 2004 during a run of four straight 3A championships and a 62-game win streak.

Outside of coaches and memories, not much remains from that rivalry, however.

"Obviously their tradition, they've had long term and sustained," said Cardinal coach Lelin George, who was an assistant coach during Conway's title run. "We're relative newcomers to the elite programs compared to what Silver Lake has been. They're still doing a lot of the same type of stuff and so are we. What they do, they do very well, and coach Hamilton and his staff have done a tremendous job year after year of preparing their kids and having them ready."

Silver Lake is coming off perhaps its most impressive victory of the season. In its 43-12 victory against previously undefeated Riverton, the Eagles shut down a Ram offense that had been averaging better than 50 points per game, while picking apart a defense that had yielded less than eight points per contest.

Quarterback Tyler Roberts completed 16 of 24 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns, continuing a remarkably efficient season for the senior. Roberts has hit on 136 of 220 passes for 2,466 yards and 30 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Tailback Cameron Renfro has added 1,679 yards and 22 touchdowns.

"I felt like we played hopefully not our best game, but pretty dang close," Hamilton said of the rout of Riverton.

Conway, meanwhile, reached the championship game by avenging one of its two regular-season losses. After losing to defending state champion Garden Plain 21-7 in district play, the Cardinals turned the tables with a 45-25 victory in last Friday's semifinals.

Conway has some killer Bs in its backfield. Back Jaydan Bird (who has committed to Oklahoma) has rushed for 2,253 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, while running mate Caleb Brill has chipped in nearly 1,500 yards on the ground.

"Conway's playing well right now and that's what it's all about," Hamilton said. "You want to make sure you're playing your best football at the right time, and a lot of things play into that."

Conway's win denied Silver Lake a shot at revenge. Last year, the Eagles were smoked 48-7 by Garden Plain in the title game.

But even though it's not the Owls on the other side of the ball this time, Hamilton said last year's game does provide motivation.

"I think they're aware of it," Hamilton said. "Once the game starts, that stuff all goes away. It gives them focus in that if you don't play well, you can get embarrassed, and we felt like last year, we got embarrassed. I'm sure that's part of the motivation for both the players and coaching staff."