Cheylin, Golden Plains a matchup of familiar foes
Published on -9/27/2012, 10:12 AM
By CONOR NICHOLL
Rexford-Golden Plains and Bird City-Cheylin have plenty of familiarity on the football field. The programs have veteran coaches in Travis Smith, in his 13th season with Golden Plains, and Max Keltz, the 14th-year head coach for Cheylin. The coaches are friends and the teams often have well-played, close contests.
"We usually do play our best game against Cheylin," Golden Plains senior running back Andrew Luna said.
"It's always fun to compete," Keltz said.
The teams, especially recently, have earned multiple playoff berths and district titles. Smith has a 60-58 record in his career and hasn't won fewer than four games since 2004.
Helped by veteran assistant Travis Betz, the former head coach at Winona-Triplains, Golden Plains is known for its high-scoring offense.
The Bulldogs have averaged 32.7 points per game since the start of the 2006 season, according to preppowerindex.com. Cheylin has averaged 26.9 points in the same span.
"He runs a little unique offense compared to most that you see," Keltz said. "It's kind of a single wing, double wing, he does do some conventional things out of the I, or what I call the pro formation. Really have to pay attention to the deception that he is in doing in the backfield."
Keltz has guided the Cougars to a 20-5 mark since the start of the 2010 season. Golden Plains holds a 5-3 edge in the series in the last eight years, but Cheylin has won the last two meetings.
On Friday, Golden Plains will play host to Cheylin in a key Eight-Man, Division II, District 6 matchup. Game time is 7 p.m. Both teams are 2-2 overall, 1-1 in district play. Both squads are coming off a big district loss. Cheylin fell 50-6 to Sharon Springs, ranked No. 2 in the classification in the statewide media poll.
The Cougars also lost 22-14 to Atwood in Week 2.
"The Atwood loss, we all felt like we were pretty close, and Sharon, we had some adversity, and I felt like we really didn't step up to the plate when they swung a punch at us," senior quarterback Kenan Reeh said. "I felt like at least (Tuesday) at practice, we were ready to go. I feel like as a team, we definitely have the fire to come back, keep the rest of the season going good."
Golden Plains lost 56-6 to Weskan last Friday and fell 54-18 to Quinter in Week 1.
Both teams have similar scoring margins. Opponents have outscored Golden Plains 132-114, while opponents have outscored Cheylin 98-76.
"They are always the most physical team that we play every year no matter how good they are, they are going to come out and hit you in the mouth," Smith said of Cheylin. "The key for us this week is the two games we have lost this year have been teams that have come out and put it to us physically.
"We have got to be able to come out and be physical this week," he added. "If we are not going to be physical, it's not going to be a good game. If we come out and be physical, then I think that it will be a competitive game."
Friday's contest could eliminate one team from postseason play in a close district. Sharon Springs and Weskan remained undefeated at 4-0, while Wheatland-Grinnell, Cheylin and Golden Plains are tied. Either Cheylin or Golden Plains has made the playoffs the last four years. Golden Plains won the district title in 2009 and Cheylin earned the crown the last two seasons.
"It's a very tough district," Smith said.
Even though eight-man districts have five or six games, losing two district contests likely keeps a team from the postseason.
"I feel like it is pretty important for our eligibility for playoffs and just coming off a big loss, I feel we really need to rebound, get everybody back on the train with confidence and everything," Reeh said. "I feel like this game here Friday is a big one for us."
Of the 32 teams that made the eight-man playoffs last year, just two - Chetopa and Quinter - in Eight-Man, Division I qualified with two district losses.
"To me, I think that's very important to be able to come out top on this game to determine how well we will play for the rest of the season," Luna said.