By CONOR NICHOLL
In the 2012 edition of Kansas Pregame magazine, more than 150 11-man teams list a base offense/defense. Just five squads list single wing as its base offense, a formation nearly as old as football itself and popularized in the early 1900s by Pop Warner.
Those five teams are: Iola, Doniphan West, Conway Springs, Meade and Centralia. Just four squads, including Class 3A power Beloit, have the double-wing as its base offense.
Conway Springs has won seven state titles since 1998, while the single wing has helped dominate Class 2-1A in the last four seasons.
Centralia won state titles in 2009 and '11 - the first in school history - while Meade won the state crown in '10. This season, a single-wing team is guaranteed to win a fourth straight title in Class 2-1A. Meade (11-1) will face Centralia (12-0) in the state championship Saturday at Fort Hays State University's Lewis Field Stadium. Game time is 1 p.m. Centralia has outscored opponents 515-63, while Meade has collectively defeated teams 606-131.
"Somebody single wing is going to get it and we are very excited about it, and we are looking forward to it," Meade coach Scott Moshier said.
It marks the first time the two teams have met in the squad's recent successful runs. The two teams are the current dominant powers in the classification and have taken the 2-1A reins from Colgan, Smith Center and La Crosse. Centralia is 76-18 in eight years under coach Larry Glatczak, a Panther graduate. Meade stands at 70-12 in the seven-year Moshier era.
"Both teams are going to run the football, very similar teams," Glatczak said. "Both teams will play-action pas,s and both defenses kind of fly around. So it seems like it's kind of a mirror image of both."
Centralia started 1-3 last season before it won nine straight contests to finish 10-3. This year, the Panthers have ran their winning streak to a state-high 21 contests - and been one of Kansas' biggest surprises under coach Glatczak.
Centralia, which has the state's longest winning streak, entered the season with two offensive and four defensive starters back. The Panthers graduated its entire offensive line and Michael Glatczak, one of the coach's sons and a Shrine Bowl selection. However, Centralia opened the season with a 35-16 victory against St. Marys and a 28-0 Week 2 victory versus Riley- Riley County.
"Thought from that point on, thought the line really started coming together," Glatczak said.
Centralia has received 191 carries for 1,735 yards from junior J.T. Rosine. He has also completed 32 of 69 passes for 609 yards with a 6/1 TD/INT ratio, and collected 117 tackles with four interceptions on defense. Junior Sam Steinlage has 161 carries for 1,284 yards and 23 TDs.
He was hurt in the sub-state championship game against Lyndon ,and his status is in doubt for Saturday.
Centralia's powerful offense comes from the single-wing look that Glatczak installed before the 2008 season.
Centralia had run various offenses in Glatczak's first few seasons as head coach, including wishbone, spread and I formation. After a summer of planning, the Panthers lost in the third round to Colgan, 35-28.
"Thought if we are going to have some kind of program, then we have to hang our hat on something and I have wanted to try it," Glatczak said.
"It's tough to defend, it's tough to prepare against when you have got only one week, basically one day, like a Wednesday is usually defensive day and you have got one day to prepare for it and it's something that you don't see a lot of, so as an opposing team. That's tough to defend."
The next season, Centralia defeated Colgan in the playoffs and then beat Smith Center, 20-12, in overtime at state.
The victory ended Smith Center's state-record 79-game winning streak. In 2010, Centralia lost to Colgan in the playoffs. Last year, the Panthers again beat Colgan and then defeated La Crosse, 20-14, in overtime at state.
This fall, Colgan moved up to Class 3A and Centralia defeated Lyndon last week. More than anything, Glatczak likes the angle blocking of the single-wing, a style that fits his personnel.
"I think it's relatively easy," he said. "When you get to our school, I think we have been blessed with some bigger kids. Usually in a 1A school, you don't have a lot of big kids. ... Sometimes blocking straight ahead is a little tough for them. I think the single wing gives you an unbalanced line, gives you an opportunity to angle block."
Moshier used the double-wing offense in his first year at Meade and then switched to the single wing his next year. Moshier likes the physical nature of the offense and the misdirection. In 2010, the Buffs' single-wing helped the team control the game in a 20-14 state title win versus Colgan. Just like in 2010, Meade lost its first game of the season. Two years ago, it was a defeat to Canadian (Tex.). This year, the Buffs lost by one point to Holcomb in Week 1 and haven't lost since.
"We've just gotten better, because we have looked at what we did and fix small mistakes and after that, I knew that we were just going to go play as hard as we could and get better," senior quarterback Chris Hardaway said. "Our line just improved tremendously from that game."
The offensive line has helped Meade, ranked No. 1 in the preseason in Class 2-1A, rush for 355 yards a contest. In the last five years, the Buffs have averaged at least 283 yards per game on the ground. This season, the offensive line has helped senior running back Trevin Wiens tally 1,587 yards and 26 scores, while Hardaway has 1,034 yards and 16 scores. Junior running back Jett Little has tacked on 91 rushes for 799 yards and nine scores. In his career, Wiens has 393 rushes for 4,235 yards and 68 scores. Hardaway and Little have combined for more than 3,800 rushing yards in their careers.
"They are very physical, and they want this just as bad as everyone on this team, because they are just as ready to get out there," Hardawaysaid of the Buffs' offensive line. "They actually say what plays they want to do sometimes. (They say), 'Let's run this play, because we know that we can get blocks.' So we know that we can count on them to block that."
Last week, Meade defeated La Crosse for the third time in four years. The Buffs, behind the single wing, collected 308 rushing yards - and moved back to the state game.
"We have got the opportunity to go back to Hays, and that's something that we are very, very proud of our kids and the work that they have done," Moshier said. "I just couldn't be happier, couldn't be prouder of these kids. Just Praise the Lord."