As the final couple weeks of football season wind down and we slowly begin basketball coverage, we’ll have a slightly different blog featuring the KCMW semi-final football games and the first broadcasts of hoops coverage for the year.
Friday night, we covered the Class 3 semi-final in a tantalizing match between undefeated #2 ranked California and two-loss #10 Oak Grove. Two high powered offenses met along with stingy defenses but that would only hold true for one squad in what would be an exciting contest. The second play from scrimmage saw Panthers tailback and K-State commit, Aaron Graham, race 76 yards for a TD to give Oak Grove the lead. The Pintos would take the ensuing kick 90+ yards for the tying score to only see it erased by their only penalty of the evening. After being pushed back to mid-field they would drive near the twenty yard line, stall out, and then see a field goal get blocked. The Panthers would see the game tied by the Pintos late in the first quarter at 7-all, but then roll for the remainder of the contest.
The powerful Panther rushing attack took over and saw touchdowns added by four separate backs. Oak Grove led 21-7 late in the half and watched the Pintos move all the way down to the 2-yard line in hopes of cutting the lead in half. They would be stopped on multiple plays, including putting lineman Nathan Squires in to bull into the end zone. The Panther held and would literally run away the rest of the way. The only other Pinto score on the night would come from a beautifully executed hook-and-ladder (lateral) play for a lengthy score, but the Panther ground game would amass a startling 532 yards in a runaway 49-14 win. Oak Grove is now on a four week roll where they have whipped opponents that entered with a collective 44-1 record en route to the Panthers title match with John Burroughs. It is the first trip to the dome for Oak Grove and their first title appearance since 1990.
Saturday afternoon featured a great potential on-paper match-up between undefeated #1 Webb City and one-loss #4 Kearney. It would prove that only on paper, however, as Webb City would utterly control the entirety of the game, never trail, and dominate at crucial times to keep Kearney from every really getting close in the game. Not just one player led the charge, though Kiante Hardin’s great catches in an early wind, and shutdown defensive play helped grab the early lead for Webb City, who makes a play now for a fifth consecutive state title. Webb jumped to a 10-0 first quarter lead with the wind at their backs as Minnesota recruit Hardin had four catches for 115 yards. The first crucial error for Kearney came, though, after one of their biggest plays of the day. After a 30-yard reception, senior running back Reagan Frakes fumbled the ball back to Webb who would drive for the score and a 17-0 lead. Webb’s five scores were all from different players in the game. Kearney would answer with their only score of the day as Frakes went in from 14 yards out to make it a 17-7 halftime score…..but the game did not feel that close.
A huge kick to start the second half by the Cardinals Keeton Marsh would set up a short Hunter Vanlue TD score and hold momentum fully in favor of the Cardinals. They rolled to a 38-7 final, scoring three TD’s off of Kearney turnovers, and accruing seven sacks against a Kearney attack that had to pass earlier than they would have liked. Coach Jones told area reporters following the game that “the sharks felt the blood in the water”. The win propels Webb to another title shot against Cape Central, whom they crushed in last year’s semi-final.
In early season basketball action, we saw two run-aways in private school action and two tight games from area public schools. Lowry City Christian hosted long-time rival El Dorado Christian in girls and boys action, and both Buffalo teams got out to early leads and ran away from the LCCS Falcons. In the girls’ game, a sluggish first quarter saw El Do come from behind to lead 6-4, but turn the jets on from there to get the easy win 44-15. The Buffaloes height inside was the difference, scoring 34 of their 44 from post players Chaney Housh and Anna Buttorff. Housh was named Player of the Game as ECH goes to 2-1 on the young season, while the Falcons drop to 0-1. The boys game was much of the same as ECH led throughout, by nine after one, pushing up to 21 at the half, and getting a running clock late in the game. They would notch the win easily, 60-29, to move to 1-0 as the Falcon boys fell to 0-1.
In public school action, the Appleton City Bulldogs hosted the Lakeland Vikings in girls and boys games as well. The Bulldogs and Vikings played back-and-forth and close throughout as the Lady Vikings would use their interior height to grab a 39-31 win. Both teams shot poorly from the floor and even worse from the free throw line, and each had chances to seize control of the game, but it was evident that it was an early season tilt for both squads. Lana Fellhoelter was the player of the game after leading all scorers with 13 points and establishing the inside game with her height against a much shorter Bulldog squad. In the boys game, Appleton City led for nearly all the game, until the Vikings raced back for a fourth quarter lead. It would see-saw throughout the final frame before AC hit some big free throws, Lakeland took some ill-advised shots, and the Bulldogs would hold strong on their home court for the win, 53-47. Tyler Piepmeier paced the way for the Dogs scoring 24 points, and he was co-player of the game, along with Lakeland’s Gable Dull, drilling huge threes to keep Lakeland close and finishing with 21 in a losing effort. It was the first game for both schools.