2-1A: Phillipsburg edges Troy 30-29 to win first title

Kirk Coomes (8) rushed for 243 yards & 4TDs for Phillipsburg. (Everett Royer, KSportsImages.com)
By: Conor Nicholl for Kpreps.com
Nov 28, 2015

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HAYS— Phillipsburg sophomore Kirk Coomes had just 100 carries in the season’s first 12 games. Coomes served as the backup to senior Conner Weinman and was one of four Panthers in a regular backfield rotation.

On Saturday, Weinman went down early with a collarbone injury in the Class 2-1A state championship game against Troy. Coomes entered the contest earlier than usual. The Panthers continuously ran one play – 33 Bone Iso – to the left side with Coomes as the feature back.

He finished with 26 carries for 243 yards and four touchdowns. Phillipsburg’s rushing attack and defense held off Troy, 30-29, on a cold Saturday afternoon at Fort Hays State University’s Lewis Field Stadium. Troy missed a go-ahead two-point conversion with 3 minutes, 17 seconds left.

With less than 90 seconds remaining, Phillipsburg faced 4th-and-3 from the Troy 43-yard line. The Panthers went with a hard count, Troy moved and was called for encroachment. Phillipsburg ran out the clock.

Afterward, Coomes said he was “really sore” and could barely bend his knees as he slowly walked around in the postgame celebration.

“It was fantastic,” Coomes said. “This was probably the best game that I ever had in history. My linemen did great, and sometimes, honestly, they would come to the huddle, call the play for me, and I would be like, ‘Good God, coach, I am hurting so bad right now, why do you do this to me?’ Get seven or eight yards, it was just a great experience. I love this.”

The play was the same one Phillipsburg ran at the end of the 2014 sub-state championship game, just in the other direction. Phillipsburg held a massive yardage edge versus Ell-Saline but fumbled at the 1-yard line in the final seconds and lost, 22-21.

“It was the one play that we kept running over and over and over, and we just felt like we were picking up chunks there, and we had to stay with it,” coach J.B. Covington said.

Phillipsburg (11-2) won the schools’ first football title in its initial trip to the state championship game. It marked Covington’s first crown in 18 years as a head coach, 13 with the Panthers. Troy, also in its first time at state, went 10-2.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Covington said. “It’s a big thing for our community obviously. We have had a lot of great football players over the years. A lot of teams that we felt were very deserving of moving on further than we have, but this bunch, it’s just kind of a culmination of a lot of things. A great community that’s very supportive obviously. They are hard to get.”

Troy junior quarterback Reid Greaser finished 17 of 24 passing for 298 yards and four scores. Coomes tallied a 4-yard run to give Phillipsburg a 30-23 lead with 10:28 remaining.

“We could not stop that one play,” Troy coach Derek Jasper said. “They ran it to perfection every time it seemed like. We tried and tried.”

Troy closed the gap to 30-29 when Greaser found junior Cuttar Huss for a wide-open 30-yard touchdown pass with 3 minutes, 17 seconds left. Troy immediately decided to try for a 2-point conversion.

“We had a stunt called, and I was like, ‘We have to stop them,’” Coomes said. “…I had panic running through mind, I was nervous. I didn’t know what was going to happen on that.”

Greaser rolled out to his right and overthrew senior Chris Winkel in the end zone.

“We felt like we have a great defense, and just told them basically, ‘It’s now or never, we’ve got to get a stop,” Covington said.

Winkel collected five catches for 128 yards and two scores, including a pair of long circus catches. Huss had seven catches for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and had five rushes for 34 yards.

“I take responsibility,” Jasper said. “We had a chance. We were going to go for two all the way. I don’t regret going for two. I just regret the play call. I wanted to use Cuttar Huss as a decoy. I knew they would be flying to the kid, and I should just have got him the ball somehow instead of using him as a decoy, and it didn’t work out.”

Troy led 9-0 after the first quarter and 17-16 at halftime. Coomes collected a seven-yard run early in the second quarter and then added a 54-yard run just over two minutes later. With 7:56 left in the third quarter, Coomes broke another big play for a 62-yard touchdown for Phillipsburg’s first lead at 22-17.

Panther senior fullback Brock Means, one of the squad’s most experienced players, continually paved the way. Troy held a 351-349 yardage edge, while Phillipsburg ran 66 times for 339 yards.

“It’s always an iso,” Means said. “We just have great, great blockers up front. With me lead blocking, we just get it done good, and do it right.”

Phillipsburg’s left side of the line with senior tackle Jace Gordon, senior tight end Nate Prewitt and sophomore wide receiver Trey Thompson also opened holes. Covington became emotional when he talked about Prewitt, a talented running back last year who hurt his knee in the offseason. Prewitt returned in Week 9 and played tight end the final month.

“It’s a downhill play,” Covington said. “Means leads it for us, the key there is, the left tight end and left tackle, we’ve got to get a great turnout and we got that all night from Thompson and Prewitt, and Gordon, our left tackle, really did a great job on their 4-technique, and that’s tough to do. Their four-technique we felt like was a very good football player.”


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