Area state playoffs - Victoria has another chance at senior night
By NICK McQUEEN
Finishing with an undefeated record accomplished two things for the Victoria High School football team.
First and foremost, it secured the Knights' first district championship since 2008, something only seven other teams accomplished in Eight-Man Division II this season.
And with the district championship comes an opportunity to host a playoff game. So, secondly, it gave the Knights another opportunity to honor their five seniors -- injured players Sam Ottley and Clayton Roth included -- since their last regular season game last Thursday wasn't played.
"Hopefully we're fresh," Knights coach Doug Oberle said as his team prepares to play host to Ingalls (7-2) on Tuesday in Victoria. "I know I'm antsy. Hopefully, they are a little antsy too to go out and play a football game.
"It's been a while."
The Knights earned a forfeit victory in Week 9 as district opponent Wilson did not have enough players to finish the season. The cancellation forced Victoria to miss its senior night, so Tuesday's home playoff game, the first playoff opener at home for the Knights since that unbeaten regular season in 2008, will be a substitute.
"Trying to hit it home for these guys how fortunate they are to get to be able to pay at home in a playoff game," said Oberle. "There aren't a lot of guys who get that opportunity. Excited for it."
This year marks the state-best 12th straight playoff appearance for Victoria, dating back to 2002. In that span, the Knights have exited in the first round three times -- twice in the last three seasons.
The Knights finished 9-0 despite losing Roth and Ottley, two team leaders, to season-ending injuries early on. In their absence, players like sophomore quarterback Brady Dinkel, junior running back Bryan Dome, and sophomore fullback Lane Kisner, among others, have stepped up to carry the load.
The Knights have outscored opponents 409-100, the closest win a 20-0 win at Dighton in Week 7.
Victoria will take on an Ingalls team whose losses are to Eight-Man Division I playoff qualifier Spearville and district champion Fowler, who will play host to Dighton on Tuesday.
"They have a little size," Oberle said of Ingalls, which scores just more than 28 points per contest. "They do some nice things offensively, and have a tall, lanky receiver (6-foot-4 Lamontae Heady) who is going to be difficult for us to match up with.
"Their roster looks a little like ours -- two seniors who play, and the rest are underclassmen, and the sophomores are pretty talented."
Ingalls is making its first trip to the playoffs since 2006. Tuesday's weather forecast as of Monday morning called for rain with the possibility of snow, which Oberle said could make things "interesting" for the Knights' quick-moving offense.
"Our only 'weather' game this year was Dighton, and we didn't play particularly well there," he said.
A win Tuesday, and the Knights will either travel to Beloit/St. John's-Tipton or play host to Weskan in the second round Saturday.
Class 1A Division I
In a marquee first-round matchup, Eight-Man Division I's highest-scoring team, Osborne (9-0), will play host to last year's Division I sub-state runner-up, Madison/Hamilton (8-1).
Osborne, fueled by its three-headed monster in seniors Maverick LeRock, Kenton Ubelaker and sophomore Jake Tiernan, has amassed a state-best 554 points and has yet to have a team come any closer than 26 points, and that was in the season-opener in a 64-38 win against WaKeeney-Trego.
Ubelaker has rushed for 1,023 yards on 91 carries with 18 touchdowns, while LeRock has added 848 yards with 18 scores. In the run game, Tiernan adds 502 yards with eight scores, and has thrown 49 completions for 898 yards with 19 TDs to just three interceptions. All the completions have been to four different receivers, including Ubelaker and LeRock.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 in Division I in the statewide media poll, play host to a Madison team that has played Division I's No. 5 toughest schedule, according to preppowerindex.com. Madison, a preseason favorite in the statewide poll, is playing on the road by virtue of a 40-34 Week 8 loss to Peabody-Burns.
Also in Division I, Hoxie (8-1) will play host to Spearville (8-1) at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Hoxie took the district title last week in a blowout win at previously unbeaten Atwood-Rawlins County. The Indians will rely heavily again on the play of senior quarterback Chase Kennedy and junior running back Connor Katt. Katt has 136 carries for 1,207 yards with 22 touchdowns, while Kennedy has posted 126 carries for 797 yards and 15 scores. He has also completed 40 of 65 passes for 489 yards and eight TDs with two interceptions.
The Indians' only loss was in Week 2, 36-28 to unbeaten Division II state qualifier Sharon Springs-Wallace County. Since the loss, Hoxie has outscored opponents 338-84, including the 54-28 win last Thursday against Rawlins County.
Rawlins County will travel to unbeaten Jetmore-Hodgeman County for a 6 p.m. start Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, Goodland (6-3) will play host to 5-4 Abilene. Goodland is making its first trip to the playoffs since 2011 (3A). The Cowboys' success this season has been due, in large part, to the play of sophomore quarterback Trey Teeter. Teeter, the son of Goodland coach Kent Teeter, has completed 116 of 228 passes for 1,900 yards and 20 TDs. He is also second on the team in rushing with 52 touches for 201 yards. Teeter has spread the ball around in the passing game, hitting nine different receivers. His favorite target, senior Dax Ruhs, has 37 catches for 785 yards and 11 scores.