The Ringnecks gave the Knights all they could handle. Building a 19-6 lead by halftime, the Hill City High School football team just couldn’t hang on against perennially competitive Victoria, dropping a 42-41 nailbiter in Eight-Man Division I, District 7 action.
Victoria began the third quarter with three straight touchdowns to take a lead, added two more in the fourth quarter, then held off a Ringneck charge to punch the Knights’ ticket to the Eight-Man Division II state playoffs.
Trailing 19-6, Victoria’s Drayden Karlin returned the opening third-quarter kickoff 75 yards to paydirt. The Knights followed that with a 19-yard TD pass from Cooper Windholz to Caden Oberle, then a 7-yard scoring run from Jayvonn Pruitt. With 9 minutes, 56 seconds to play in the game, Tyler Knoles tacked on the Knights’ final score, putting Victoria up 42-27.
Not to be outdone, Hill City quarterback Conner Born added his fifth and sixth touchdown runs of the evening as the Ringnecks made a rally. His last, though, came with 4:35 to play as the team’s exchanged defensive blows the rest of the way.
Born’s big night of 26 carries for 147 yards and six score wasn’t enough.
The Ringnecks need a win at Washington County on Friday to make sure they are one of four playoff qualifiers out of the district. At 5-2 overall and 3-1 in district play, the Knights wrapped up a playoff spot, but will host Stockton (3-4) on Friday, and a win would wrap up second place behind district champion Clifton-Clyde.
St. Francis 64, Trego 14
WaKEENEY — The visiting Indians moved to 7-0 and put the finishing touches on an Eight-Man Division I, District 8 championship with a blowout victory. Jordan Raby had four total touchdowns for St. Francis, scoring the first two TDs of the night. Brady Dinkel added two passing touchdowns and a rushing score, and the St. Francis defense recorded a safety.
Trego now needs a win Friday at Hoxie (6-1, 3-1) to make sure it makes it into the playoffs. Trego can still make it in with a loss if Wichita County (5-2, 2-2) wins against Oberlin (3-4, 1-3). Hoxie defeated Oberlin 52-6, making sure the Eight-Man Division I champion Indians will return to the playoffs. The Indians will await their result against Trego in the final week to find out their seed.
Osborne 68, Northern Valley 0
ALMENA — Osborne sits 6-1 overall and 4-0 after a romp against Northern Valley, yet the Bulldogs still have to beat Thunder Ridge at home to wrap up the championship in Eight-Man Division II, District 5.
The Bulldogs made short work of the Huskies (5-2, 2-2) on the road Friday.
Darrien Holloway rushed 11 times for 182 yards and four scores, while Mason Schurr added five carries for 159 yards and three scores. Darnell Holloway did not attempt a pass for the Bulldogs, but rushed five times for 88 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense pitched the shutout, holding Northern Valley’s offense to just 49 rushing yards and 50 passing yards. It was the first time Northern Valley has been held scoreless since Week 3 of the 2015 season, a 50-0 loss to Atwood-Rawlins County.
Osborne, meanwhile, has recorded back-to-back shutouts ahead of the district championship tilt this week against Thunder Ridge.
Thunder Ridge 50, Wilson 6
KENSINGTON — The host Longhorns moved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Eight-Man II, District 5, and are on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 2013. However, in the final week of the regular season, the Longhorns could slip into fifth place or win a district championship in a wide-open field.
Ness City 62, Kiowa County 14
GREENSBURG — Ness City wrapped up a playoff spot out of Eight-Man Division I, District 6, and has the possibility of claiming a district championship with a win against unbeaten Jetmore-Hodgeman County in the season’s final week. John Pfannenstiel passed for 228 yards and six touchdowns Friday in the win against Kiowa County, hitting Landon Reinhardt for three scores, Edwin Rodriguez for two and Andres Rios for another.
A win by the Eagles coupled with a loss by Spearville to South Gray would give Ness City the title. A loss could potentially drop Ness City into the district’s third seed. Regardless, Friday’s win wrapped up a playoff berth for the Eagles.
Plainville 41, Ellis 0
PLAINVILLE — The host Cardinals wrapped up a district title with the blowout against the Railers. Jordan Finnesy passed for 204 yards and three scores, while Jared Casey rushed for 55 yards and two scores as Plainville moved to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in Class 1A, District 6. The Cardinals still can finish 2-1 with a loss to Oakley, but now have head-to-head over Ellis and La Crosse, the only other teams who can finish 2-1. Ellis will host La Crosse on Friday with the winner getting the second seed out of the district.
La Crosse 24, Oakley 22
La CROSSE — La Crosse did its part to set up a battle for second place in the district, while Oakley will finish the season as the four seed from the district, regardless of what happens against Plainville. La Crosse scored in the fourth quarter Friday to nab the win.
Hunter Morgan had three TD passes for the Leopards and rushed for one more, finishing with 144 passing and 122 rushing yards.
Smith Center 57, Republic County 8
SMITH CENTER — Posting its third straight blowout, Smith Center set up a district-championship showdown with Ell-Saline next week. The winner will finish 3-0 in district, while the loser will take the second seed with a 2-1 mark. Sacred Heart and Republic County will battle for the third seed.
Norton 35, Ellsworth 7
NORTON — In a season that started out rough, the Norton Bluejays will head to the 3A playoffs and can finish no worse than 3-2 in Class 2A, District 8 play after Friday’s blowout win. The Bluejays will close the regular season at Hoisington and can finish no worse than third. The fourth spot is up for grabs among TMP-Marian, Minneapolis and Ellsworth.