Class 2-1A Semifinal Preview

Olpe's Andrew Burenheide in the 2014 state title game. (Everett Royer,
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Nov 17, 2015

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Class 2-1A

East: No. 5 Olpe (9-2) at No. 4 Troy (9-1)

Defending champion Olpe will try and get back to the 2-1A state title game by defeating the Troy Trojans. The Eagles and the Trojans will meet in the sub-state semifinal for the second consecutive season.  Last year, Olpe rallied from a 20-7 deficit to beat Troy, 36-28.

Olpe began the season with consecutive losses to La Crosse (22-12) and Riley County (55-30).  Since, the Eagles have won nine straight games by outscoring their opponents by an average of 37 to 7.

The Eagles opened the playoffs with a 35-6 win over Northern Heights before topping Jackson Heights 26-6 in last week’s quarterfinal.

Against Jackson Heights, Olpe’s lead was 7-0 at halftime after a Ryker Schmidt touchdown pass to his younger brother Damon.

After halftime, Dylan Redeker added a touchdown run before Jackson Heights pulled within 13-6 at the end of the third quarter. Redeker and Andrew Burenheide each scored in the fourth quarter as Olpe won by 20 points.

Burenheide rushed for 114 yards on only seven carries, while Redeker rushed for 80 yards and added 71 yards receiving.

Troy advanced back to the semifinal round with a 58-21 win at Lyndon. The Trojans trailed 7-0 after one quarter before taking an 8-7 lead on a Kortin Blevins touchdown run. The Trojan defense then contributed a touchdown on a Cuttar Huss pick-6 and a Lyndon fumble led to a short Conner McNorton touchdown run. Troy led 22-15 at halftime.

In the second half, quarterback Reid Greaser hit Huss on a touchdown pass for a 30-15 lead. The Trojans then put up 28 points in the fourth quarter to pull away for the 58-21 win.

Greaser completed 9 of 12 passes for 127 yards and two scores. Huss had 92 receiving yards and his touchdown.

Like Olpe, Troy has also won nine straight games after the Trojan’s season-opening loss to Washington County, 36-18. Troy has never reached a football state title game, but the Trojans are playing as well as anyone right now.

Troy 34, Olpe 28 (Gilmore)

West: No. 1 Phillipsburg (9-2) at No. 2 Smith Center (10-1)

These Mid-Continent League rivals, separated by 30 miles on US-36, will match up for the second time in three weeks. In Week 9, Smith Center led 7-0 entering the final five minutes before Phillipsburg scored a pair of late touchdowns to win 14-7. It marked the Redmen’s first home loss in 12 contests.

Since that first meeting, Smith Center has rolled over Sedgwick (48-21) and Oakley (42-21).

Phillipsburg controlled Sacred Heart (38-13) and delivered a great defensive performance against Meade’s run-heavy single wing in a 26-21 road win last week. The Panthers held Meade to its worst rushing performance on the season with 51 carries for 136 yards. John Gower (71 tackles this year) was the defensive linchpin.

Phillipsburg’s defense has played well against physical rushing attacks, including Oakley, Phillipsburg, Smith Center, Meade, and Norton.

Meade led the Panthers 7-0, 14-6, and 21-20 before freshman quarterback Trey Sides tallied a 36-yard scoring run at the end of the third quarter for the final points. Phillipsburg rushed for 225 yards, including 89 by Mark Coomes. Coomes leads the team with 1,050 rushing yards. He is one of five players with at least 530 rushing yards and eight scores.

Smith Center has plenty of backfield balance, too. Three Redmen running backs cleared 100 yards last Friday, led by 131 from quarterback Thayne Benoit, 123 by Cale Rogers and 101 from Kaden Meitler. Rogers paces Smith Center with 1,443 yards and 22 rushing scores, while Meitler stands at 955.

Smith Center has enjoyed a five-win improvement from last year and has its first double-digit win season since a 12-1 mark in 2009. That season marked the Redmen’s last state berth and ended the state record 79-game winning streak with a 20-12 overtime loss to Centralia.

Phillipsburg is looking for its first state football championship appearance. Last year, Phillipsburg went 10-2 and defeated Ell-Saline, 20-14, in district play. However, the Panthers fell 22-21 at home to Ell-Saline in sub-state. Phillipsburg greatly controlled the second half, yet a goal-line fumble in the final seconds was critical in defeat. Last season marked the Panthers’ first-ever sub-state appearance.

In the Week 9 victory, the Panthers outgained Smith Center 264-153, with 72 coming on a long run by Rogers. Phillipsburg is widely considered more talented than Smith Center and 2015 is arguably the Panthers’ best ever shot at a state crown. Phillipsburg goes one step further than last season and reaches state.

Phillipsburg 20, Smith Center 14 (Nicholl)


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