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A look back at the 8-man state games

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews,net

NEWTON -- Temperatures dipped below 20 degrees at the Eight Man, Division II state championship game between Wallace County High School and Baileyville B&B last Saturday at Fischer Field. After the contest, players stood on the field, shivering as friends and family took photos.

"Halftime wasn't fun, and before the game, but once you start playing, it's not bad at all," Wallace County senior quarterback Kyle Gfeller said.

Wallace County lost 42-19 in a game that was never closer than two scores all second half. B&B, which closes its doors to consolidate with Nemaha Valley after this school year, won its second straight title. Wallace County moved to 2-1 all-time in state title appearances, and coach Kevin Ayers dropped to 3-1 in championship contests in his career.

Ayers, though, was very proud of his team that never gave up despite the elements and an ankle injury to Gfeller. Wallace County finished 12-1.

"A great season," Gfeller said. "Just came up a little short. I am proud of my guys. I will miss them.

"Our kids didn't quit to the very end," Ayers added.

Wallace County pulled its starters in the final minutes with the game out of reach, but Kyle's brother, backup quarterback Eric Gfeller, led a scoring drive.

"They still battled," Ayers said. "That kind of attitude, that kind of person will do a lot of good things on this earth."

The difference came in turnover margin. Wallace County was minus-3 in turnover margin after it lost just one fumble all season and had been plus-24 in turnover margin.

The Falcons had excelled in forcing turnovers, especially after a Week 1 loss to Madison. B&B was plus-41 in turnover margin, including 23 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries.

"Outside of the Madison game, we have turned everybody over at least three times," coach Justin Coup said. "We have taken advantage of a lot of opportunities, and a lot of that is because of our kids and how well they fly to the ball and create opportunities."

Tiernan collects title

Osborne sophomore quarterback Jake Tiernan watched his dad, Steve, win two championships and collect three runner-ups at B&B. On Saturday, Jake earned his first crown as a player as Osborne defeated Jetmore-Hodgeman County, 56-8, to complete a 13-0 season.

"It's great," Jake Tiernan said. "I was always the manager there. It's fun then, but it's a ton more fun now."

Osborne set a Kansas eight-man record with 760 points and Tiernan completed 100 of 129 passes for 1,653 yards and 28 scores against five interceptions.

"He always just seems to put the ball right on the money," senior Kenton Ubelaker said. "He has just got that accuracy that it takes."

Tiernan and Osborne each completed 78 percent of passes to break the eight-man state marks for single season individual and team completion percentage.

We "have two or three backs that can run the ball and a lot of guys that can catch the ball, so it does make it tough to defend us," coach Steve Tiernan said.

Tiernan credited his talented skill players and his line blocking to give him time.

"Put the ball where they can catch it, and they'll catch it usually," he said.

"Our line is good," Ubelaker added.

"They would give us the holes to run through, and that's all there was to it."

Against Hodgeman County's 5-1 defense, Osborne ran several new plays for big gains took advantage of the open middle of the field.

"We have always had them, but this is the first week that we have really ran them," Jake Tiernan said. "Nobody has really seen them, so it worked out good obviously."