Game of the Week: Sharon Springs, Hoxie get physical; Wildcats win
Published on -9/9/2012, 12:38 AM
By NICK McQUEEN
SHARON SPRINGS -- It might be rare to see a low-scoring affair in the eight-man football ranks.
But, it's exactly those kinds of contests that Sharon Springs-Wallace County High School football Kevin Ayers said can make a club better.
Two potent offenses took the field Friday only to find themselves in defensive struggle in what has become a decent rivalry matchup between Wallace County and Hoxie.
In the end, it was one big drive and a little bit of "luck" for the home team in a 20-6 win for Wallace County.
"It was a good defensive effort," Ayers said. "They are a very physical ball club. I was proud of the way the kids kept bending, but didn't break.
"Someone would step up and make a play," he added.
The previous two meetings between the teams resulted in a 30-22 win for Wallace County in 2011, and a 44-0 win for Hoxie in 2010, the Indians' first season in eight-man.
This time, though, netted the fewest points scored in a win for Wallace County since a 26-24 victory against Quinter in 2009, and the fewest points for Hoxie since a 42-6 loss to Osborne in 2010.
"We came out and were physical with them," Hoxie coach Lance Baar said. "That's the main thing. I really felt we got beat physically last year."
Neither team could muster much offense in the first quarter, but might have been a little out of sorts thanks to the scoreboard not working the entire game. With no visible clock, both squads moved the ball sparingly through a quick-moving first.
The Indians' multi-threat backfield, which put up 262 rushing yards in a Week 1 rout of Tribune-Greeley County, managed just 20 yards in the first quarter.
"We just wanted to contain the QB and things would fall into place," Wallace County junior D-lineman Clay Schemm said.
The longest play in the first quarter was Wallace County senior quarterback Gavin Mote's 18-yard run on the Wildcats' first play, but Wallace County (2-0), ranked No. 2 in the Eight-Man Division II statewide media poll, eventually fell short on fourth down.
Ayers credited Hoxie's defensive front of senior Brandon Salmans, sophomore Tanner Smith and junior Mitchel Johnson with controlling much of the game, keeping Mote and the Wildcats at bay.
"Those three, at times, really dictated the tempo of the game. We have to do a better job up front on our offensive line to match that," Ayers said.
After unsuccessfully testing the middle in the first quarter, Mote found a seam to bounce to the outside on a 19-yard run in the second quarter. The long run helped cap the Wildcats' longest drive of the game with a one-yard score from Mote. Also on that drive, Mote connected with junior Callahan Grund for 24 yards to set up the long run.
"He's very impressive," Baar said of Mote, the Wildcats' fourth-year starter at QB. "I don't want to give the credit to one person, but he does such a great job at quarterback.
"They have a nice-looking offense, the way they come off the ball and the way the offense runs," Baar added.
Ayers, though, knew it helped his team had a little luck on its side in a tight game. Trailing 6-0, Hoxie (1-1) had the Wildcats stopped on fourth down, and surrounded Wallace County senior Eli Kuhlman on his punt attempt from his own 28-yard line. Kuhlman, though, found a hole, broke a tackle and scurried 44 yards to set up an eventual nine-yard TD pass from Mote to Grund.
"They got heat on the edge, and Eli, being a senior leader and heady player, made a play," Ayers said. "That was all a break down in our punt and blocking scheme up front, and Eli made the best of it. Sometimes it pays to be a little lucky too."
Hoxie made a a deep run to end the second quarter, but came up short on second and goal as time expired. Hoxie junior quarterback Chase Kennedy marched the Indians 60 yards, connecting on pass plays of 11 and 13 yards in the process.
"Just being able to contain a quarterback that can jump around like he can," Schemm said. "We had to make sure he couldn't make any plays on the pass."
That was the only time Hoxie threatened to move the ball offensively deep into scoring position. In the fourth quarter, the Indians made a defensive play that set up a short field and the Indians' first score. Smith picked up a fumble by Mote at the Wallace County 17-yard line, and Hoxie senior fullback Steven Yergey-Dible capped a short drive with a 4-yard score.
"You build off every game, but they're a good club, and when you can step up and go toe-to-toe with a good club, it's going to make us a lot better," Ayers said.
Wallace County tacked on a late score to put the game out of reach and stalled the Indian offense at the 37-yard line to end the game.
"Not very often you find an eight-man game with this score," Baar said. "There are probably a lot of 40s and 50s tonight. Pretty amazing to see (the defense) out of both teams tonight."
Wallace County finished the game with 243 total yards (174) rushing, with 160 total yards for Mote. Hoxie finished with 184 (106 rushing).
The Wildcats travel to Winona on Friday to take on Triplains-Brewster, while Hoxie hosts 2-0 Otis-Bison.