Wideout depth leads Central Plains past Victoria

Central Plains WR Layne Bieberle hauls in one of his three TDs against Victoria. (Everett Royer)
By: Conor Nicholl for Kpreps.com
Sep 5, 2014

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CLAFLIN – Central Plains senior Layne Bieberle is widely considered eight-man football’s top receiver. But Oiler coach Chris Steiner is quick to mention the program’s other talented wideouts, several whom are tall, lanky and quick like Bieberle.

In 2013, Michael Lamatsch was actually Central Plains’ top receiver at the start of the season and finished with 22 catches for 356 yards and four scores for a 9-2 team.

On Friday, the Oilers displayed their receiver depth in a 42-24 season-opening home victory against Central Prairie League foe Victoria. Central Plains is ranked No. 4 in Eight-Man, Division I and Victoria stands second in Eight-Man, Division II.

Junior quarterback Braedan Crites finished 14 of 32 passing for 242 yards and three scores with one interception.

“I trust every single one of them,” Crites said. “And a couple guys on the bench, too. We are pretty deep, and really lucky to throw it anybody – they will go get yards on it. It’s pretty awesome.”

He led the Oilers with 66 rushing yards and two scores with many of his yards coming off great blocks on the edge from wide receivers and ends.

“I tell them that if they don’t block, they don’t go catch the football, because we are not going to let them have the chance,” Steiner said. “They’ve got to block first.”

Bieberle hauled in eight catches for 120 yards and all three TDs, also recovered a fumble and had a 32-yard punt return.

Lamatsch finished with four catches for 74 yards, all in the second half. Junior Hunter Ingham collected a 24-yard catch and sprung Crites for 14-yard score in the first half, the Oilers’ longest run of the contest.

“That’s something we take pride in, is our blocking,” Crites said. “We know that if we can get off the ball and block, that we are going to get four or five yards a play, maybe more, and that’s all you need. Ten yards is first down – four or five yards will win you a ballgame.”

Lamatsch made a huge, game-turning play to open the fourth quarter. Victoria closed to 26-24 and Central Plains faced a 4th-and-6 from the Knights’ 17-yard line.

Lamatsch had a 16-yard catch off a quick slant and ran to the 1-yard line. Central Plains had thrown Lamatsch several comeback routes, a play Lamatsch likes. Steiner noticed Victoria was giving Lamatsch “tons of space” and looked for something quick to isolate him. Victoria coach Doug Oberle said he had the Knights “play a little soft” on the edge and tried to keep to receivers in front.

“We thought it would be open,” Crites said. “We knew they would be keying on Layne the whole game after we hit him early. We knew that Mike was going to be open at the end of the game. It came up big for us.”

Crites scored on the next play, and then Lamatsch caught a two-point conversion pass to put Central Plains up 10 points.

“We talked about it in the locker room,” Lamatsch said. “We knew we had to get something going on my side of the field with Layne being covered over there pretty tight. Crites just told me that we are going to hook up in the second half, and I knew it, too. I just trusted him, and he trusted me.”

With 9:01 left, junior Jacob Warnken, a transfer from Hoisington in his first varsity game with the Oilers, tallied a 2-yard score for the final points. Warnken can play in the backfield and at receiver, too.

“A great quarterback,” Oberle said. “The Bieberle kid really makes everybody else better around him just because you get fixated on him a little bit and the Lamatsch kid will hurt you, the Warnken kid will hurt you, they are a deep, talented team.”

Victoria led only at 6-0 when senior Bryan Dome returned the opening kickoff 69 yards and Lane Kisner scored from a yard out.

“We knew that was going to be a weakness coming in when you lose all-state kicker Colton Zink who puts every ball in the end zone,” Steiner said. “Let’s face it, we haven’t practiced it very much in about four years. .. I had more nerves this week just because of kickoff team than I think anything else.”

Crites misfired on his first two passes, but found Bieberle for his first completion on a 23-yard TD in the back of the end zone that tied the game at six late in the first quarter.

“First game nerves,” Crites said. “I just had to calm down. I got too pumped up, jitters. I got it calmed down, though.”

The score came after Knights punter Eric McAlonan couldn’t handle a snap and Central Plains had a short field, one of several fumbles for the Knights. The Oilers led 26-12 and stopped Kisner on 4th-and-goal inside the one on the final play of the first half.

“Turnovers just killed us tonight,” Oberle said. “I thought, first half, if we don’t turn the ball over, it’s a totally different ballgame.”

After the break, Victoria closed to 26-18 on an 11-yard TD run from junior quarterback Brady Dinkel. Dinkel paced Victoria with 70 rushing yards, but completed 3 of 11 passes for 24 yards.

Dinkel moved the deficit to 26-24 when he intercepted a pass that bounced off Bieberle. But Victoria couldn’t tie the score when its two-point conversion pass failed.

Late in the third quarter, Dinkel fumbled on an option pitch and gave Central Plains a short field at the Knights’ 21-yard line. Four plays later, Lamatsch caught his critical fourth down grab that changed the game.

“I don’t need to play a big role,” Lamatsch said. “I just need to do my part, and like coach says, ‘If you play your part, you are going to do good.’”

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