Several CPL football teams are still in the playoff mix, including No. 1 squads from LaCrosse and Ness City, both of which cruised to easy wins in week 8.
On paper, the No. 1 Leopards had winless Ellinwood beat before the game even started on Friday. Kip Keeley was probably glad they went ahead the played. The LaCrosse senior tied a school-record for most touchdowns in a game with five rushing touchdowns and another reception touchdown. The win also secured a district title for the unbeaten Leopards.
As in last week, LaCrosse looked to have a fight on its hands early. Keeley scored from nine yards out, and Ellinwood answered with a 64-yard pass play. That would be all from the Eagles as the Leopards went on to lead 47-6 at the half. With star running back Levi Morss out to nurse an injured ankle, Keeley kept going, adding a seven-yard score later in the first quarter. After senior Derrick Depperschmidt scored from 15 yards out, Keeley caught an 11-yard pass from Jack Garcia. Keeley went on to score on runs of 46, 18, and 39 yards, finishing with 175 yards on just 11 carries. The sophomore quarterback Garcia broke up the Keeley show with a 54-yard pass play to William Storie late in the second quarter. Garcia completed 6-of-10 passes for 131 yards, two interceptions, and two touchdowns. Garcia and Depperschmidt each rushed for 41 yards, and Storie led the Leopard receivers with three receptions for 96 yards. Keeley and Garcia each had interceptions on the defensive side.
Week eight looked to be the first real test for the top-ranked Eagle football team. Ness had to travel to play 7-0 Rawlins County. The Eagles showed why they are the No. 1 team in Div. I, downing the Buffaloes 48-0 in three quarters and claiming a district title in the process.
The Eagles took command in the first quarter with a 14-0 lead, but really let things fly in the second quarter to extend the gap to 42-0 by halftime. Dalton Gantz rushed for two touchdowns and 111 yards on just nine carries. Pedro Flores added a touchdown and 34 yards on four carries, and quarterback Koltyn Ratliff ran for 11 yards and a score on six attempts. Ratliff also completed 4-of-6 passes for 46 yards. Garrett Flax ran for 39 yards on seven tries but did not find the end zone, at least offensively. He proved effective all over the field with a fumble recovery, interception, and two touchdowns. Dalton Gantz also had an interception and touchdown.
The perennial power Mustangs have been a little off their game in 2012, taking a 3-4 record into week eight of the season. But they are not finished yet. Friday, Macksville moved to 3-2 in district play with a 66-20 victory against winless Pratt-Skyline. The top four teams of the district battle one another on Thursday. St. John (5-0) has clinched a playoff spot, and the Mustangs need the Tigers to down Fairfield (4-1). Macksville and Fairfield will both be hoping for that result so the winner of their game can move to 4-2 and advance to the playoffs.
“This sets us up for a big game next Thursday night against a Fairfield team that is big and very physical,” said Macksville Coach Jeff Kuckelman. “We will need to be ready to play and try to match their physicality. They are going to come right at us and we will be ready.”
Quarterback Tanner Tranbarger had another monster night with a hand in eight of Macksville’s nine touchdowns. He ran the ball 15 times for 142 yards and five of those touchdowns, throwing for another two scores on 10-of-16 passing for 216 yards. Defensively, he returned one of three Mustang touchdowns for a 45-yard score. Tranbarger finished with two picks, and Billy Burnett added the other interception.
“I was pleased with our defense getting three interceptions and even returning one for a touchdown,” Kuckelman said. “If we can turn people over, we have a chance to win any game.”
Alan Ibarra also rushed for a touchdown, taking eight carries 51 yards. Burnett had three receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown. Ibarra caught the other touchdown for a 41-yard strike. Adolfa Ibarra had four receptions for 54 yards.
The Tiger football team is still unbeaten in district play. Barely. After taking a 38-16 lead into the half, St. John (7-1 overall) nearly let Fairfield (5-3) back into the game. With a slim 38-36 lead, the Tigers scored the final two touchdowns to pull back away. St. John improves to 5-0 in the district, clinching a playoff berth. This Thursday’s game against Kiowa County (4-1 district, 6-2 overall) will decide the district champion
The Falcons scored first, but St. John answered behind quarterback Spencer Nusser with a three-yard run four minutes later. Tied at 8 after one quarter, the Tiger offense came alive in the second quarter with four scores. Nusser ran in from a yard out, then Schulyer Brown followed suit from five yards away. Nusser then went to the air, completing 36-yard strike to Dean Wade and a 15-yard touchdown pass to Zuriel Reyes. That gave the Tigers a 38-8 lead. The Falcons scored twice in the third quarter, then just four seconds into the fourth quarter to pull within two. Brown’s touchdown with 7:43 to play gave St. John some breathing room, then Reyes scored from six yards out with 97 seconds to play to secure the win. Nusser completed 15-of-22 passes for 165 yards, and Brown finished with 145 yards on the ground.
The Cougars have not yet clinched a district title, but they did secure a spot in the playoffs with a 60-14 halftime win against Wilson on Friday. Otis-Bison has the lone unbeaten district record heading into the final week of play.
The scoring machine that is Dylan Wissman was back at it on Friday for six more touchdowns, bringing his season total to 30 rushing scores. His most impressive runs came early as the senior dashed 57 and 24 yards for two of the first three touchdowns. In between, Jordan Hoffman ran 44 yards for his first of two scores. Hoffman started the second quarter with a 15-yard touchdown before Wissman scored twice on plays of 18 yards. After another Wilson score, Wissman ran 37 yards to push the Cougars past the mercy rule before halftime. Wissman finished with 173 rushing yards, and Hoffman ran for 120 yards.
The Oilers want to go back to the playoffs. Rarely has that been more evident in 2012 than on Friday night when Central Plains moved to 4-4 with a 56-52 win against unbeaten Solomon. The Gorillas now have to play district-leading Pretty Prairie (7-1), while Central Plains gets pitted against Little River (6-2).
Both offenses were active in the first half with a 22-22 score after one quarter, and a 36-36 tie at the half. Senior quarterback Bryce Steiner’s 23-yard pass to Layne Bieberle was the lone touchdown of the third quarter giving the Oilers a 42-36 lead with 12 minutes to play. Solomon scored first in the fourth quarter, but Central Plains answered 57 seconds later with an 18-yard run from Steiner. The Gorillas again took the lead, but Steiner and Bieberle again connected, this time for 67 yards for what turned out to be the game-winner with 2:53 to play. Bieberle had a career night with punt returns for scores from 65 and 45 yards out. In all, he returned seven punts for 249 yards and led the Oilers with 147 yards on just four receptions. Steiner finished with 224 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-23 passing. He also threw two interceptions.
The Knights inched closer to a playoff berth with a 58-6 halftime win against Western Plains on Friday. Otis-Bison has not quite clenched the district title, but the Knights need the Cougars to down Sylvan-Lucas this Friday. Victoria (5-3 overall) will also need to beat Wilson (3-5) to claim the No. 2 spot in the district.
The Knights jumped out to a 36-6 lead after one quarter, then piled on 22 more points in the second quarter to end things early. Noah Dreiling caught a 24-yard pass from Sam Ottley to start the scoring, adding a three-yard touchdown reception from Ottley for the final score of the game. Ottley’s blocked punt return for five yards gave the Knights a 16-0 lead, and Bryan Dome’s 67-yard kick return gave Victoria a 24-6 edge. Dalton Dreiling added a one-yard score, and Clayton Roth ran in for three touchdowns on plays of 70, two and four yards.
The Coyotes won on Friday night, but the 34-22 victory over South Central does little for the big picture. Kinsley improves to 3-4 but is eliminated from playoff contention in Div. I, District 6 play.
Kinsley led 12-8 after one quarter, extending the gap to 28-8 with a quarter to play. Senior quarterback Nathan Frame finished with four touchdowns. Two of those came via the ground as Frame ran for 95 yards on 17 carries. The senior also completed 8-of-12 passes for 197 yards and two scores. Senior Tyson Espinosa also had a big game with 221 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Espinosa caught two passes, one for a score, for 52 yards. Senior Gustavo Sanchez led the Coyotes with 118 yards and a score on five receptions. Defensively, Espinosa led the team with 14 tackles. Chavez had the lone Kinsley interception in the win.