Longhorns and Falcons set for title rematch
By KLINT SPILLER
Kensington-Thunder Ridge football coach Jerry Voorhees said he reminded his players this week the school's 2011 state championship was exactly that -- in 2011.
This is a new year and a new team.
"Last year is over," Voorhees said. "This is about this year's team. This is about us."
Many of the players are different and some of the schemes have changed, but pretty much everything else is the same as it was last weekend at this time of the year.
Thunder Ridge is once again facing Baileyville-B&B High School for the Eight-Man Division II state championship at Fischer Field in Newton. Game starts at 11 a.m. Saturday.
However, this year, B&B (12-0), ranked No. 1 in the most recent statewide media poll, is considered to be the favorite entering the contest, but Thunder Ridge (11-1) has momentum, reeling off 11 consecutive victories after faltering in the first game of the season.
"We are playing our best football right now, and I think Baileyville is, too," Voorhees said. "They are playing really well right now. It ought to be a good football game."
Senior fullback Trevor Lowe leads the way for the Longhorns, running for 1,538 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.
B&B head coach Justin Coup said one of his team's top priorities is slowing down Lowe, who rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns against B&B last year in the state title game.
"You still have to stop Lowe," Coup said. "All the attention was on (Joel) Struckhoff last year, but if you go back to the state game last year, the person who beat us was Trevor Lowe."
Thunder Ridge and B&B differ wildly in their philosophies. B&B utilizes multiple spread formations and passes frequently, while Thunder Ridge runs power football out of the I-formation.
Both strategies have worked for the respective teams, as the Longhorns average scoring 49.8 points per game and B&B averages 47.3.
"They are physical just like they were last year," Coup said. "They are going to come and knock you in the mouth ... and make sure you have to match it on every play."
B&B, a perennial eight-man power, has been dominant in the past six seasons, going 68-5, making the state playoffs each time, making five state title appearances and winning two with an opportunity at a third.
"(The players) understand the tradition," said Coup, who is in his second year after taking over for Steve Tiernan who left to coach at Osborne. "They respect the tradition, and I guess they are just trying to work hard to make sure they are a part of the tradition."
B&B is led by junior quarterback Dustin Rottinghaus and senior fullback Dustin Deters.
Rottinghaus has completed 77 of 137 passes for 1,212 yards and a 15-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while Deters has bulldozed for 952 yards and 17 touchdowns, according to maxpreps.com
Both are filling voids left by departed seniors, but Rottinghaus at least got a taste of play last season, replacing injured quarterback Eric Huerter.
"That helps going into (the state title game)," Coup said. "It really does, because as a quarterback, there's a little bit of pressure going into that game (for the first time)."
Though Thunder Ridge handily defeated B&B 46-14 in the state title game last season, Coup said his players aren't seeking vengeance.
"You just want to make sure you bring home the big trophy and not the little trophy," he said. "It wouldn't have mattered if Wallace would have won. The motivation would have been the same. You are competing for a state championship."
Voorhees said B&B is so well-rounded they are tough to stop.
"You try to find a weak spot, and you can't find one," he said. "They are just solid at every position on offense and defense."
However, Voorhees said he wouldn't write off his kids.
"We are lucky enough to have some talent, too, this year just to be able to make another run and get back there," he said. "I told our kids, 'Don't be satisfied just getting there. Make sure we come out and prepare well this week and come out and play well Saturday.' "