HAYS — The Smith Center High School football team started its 2018 season with a 45-0 win (against Thomas More Prep-Marian) at Lewis Field Stadium.
Unfortunately for Olpe on Saturday on the campus of Fort Hays State University, not much was different.
If anything, the defending 2-1A state champion Redmen just got better.
That certainly showed as Smith Center ended it season at Lewis Field with a 59-0 beatdown of the Eagles in the 1A title game. After one quarter, the outcome never really was in question.
Smith Center (12-1) captured the school’s 10th state championship and the seventh since 2004, putting no doubt into the contest early.
“I’m just so happy for this group of guys here,” Smith Center coach Darren Sasse said. “It’s tough to follow a group like we had last year.
“These guys just came to work every day, just so happy for them.”
The defending champs could do very little wrong Saturday, running what Olpe coach Chris Schmidt said was a difference maker on just the third play of the game.
“The credit goes to them, they came out hard,” Schmidt said of the Redmen. “The third play was a critical play of the game.”
Redmen senior Ethan Peterson found a big hole around the left side and scored from 60 yards. It was the first of many. Mixed with turnover after turnover (four by halftime), the Redmen built up a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and led 41-0 at halftime.
“The last couple weeks we have just played at a really high level,” Sasse said.
That showed in the results. Smith Center outscored its playoff opponents 225-41. By halftime of Saturday’s title game, Smith Center had 254 yards of offense, and held Olpe to minus-8, and forced four turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions). For the game, Smith Center recorded seven sacks for a loss of 45 yards, forced two recovered fumbles and picked off six passes.
“It was a little bit of a shock for us,” Schmidt said. “No one has really done that to us. We never responded.”
Peterson had two scores by halftime, and ended with 161 rushing yards and three scores. Senior Colby Benoit had all three of his rushing scores by intermission and finished the game with 118 rushing yards. Smith Center racked up 359 on the ground, while junior Colbren Hoelting went to the air to try and mount anything for Olpe after the break. The Eagles’ only drive into Redmen territory against the No. 1s stalled at the 25.
“We’ve been good against the run all year,” Sasse said. “We’ve turned some teams into passing teams that I don’t think wanted to.
“When you take that away, that’s big for us.”
Olpe ended up with 152 total yards on 58 plays, but had minus-35 on the ground.
“These kids are better than they showed,” Schmidt said of his 12-1 Olpe club. “But, the credit goes to Smith Center.”
The only losses the last two seasons have been to Phillipsburg, which on Saturday claimed the 2A state title. Sasse gave just as much credit to the MCL slate.
“It’s a big credit to our league too,” Sasses said. “We really see some teams that get us ready for this time of year.”
Smith Center 59, Olpe 0
Olpe (12-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Smith Center (12-1) 21 20 18 0 — 59
SC — Peterson 60 run (Lambert kick).
SC — Peterson 15 run (Lambert kick).
SC — Benoit 13 run (Lambert kick).
SC — Maxwell 2 run (Lambert kick).
SC — Benoit 7 run (Lambert kick).
SC — Benoit 23 run (kick failed).
SC — Peterson 70 run (pass failed).
SC — Colby 8 run (Kick failed).
SC — Timmons blocked punt return (pass failed).
Olpe — Hoelting 3-11, Cox 4-3, Robert 1-1, Redeker 1-(minus-12); Colb. Hoelting, 14-(minus-23).
SC — Peterson 12-161, Benoit 11-118, Maxwell 14-48, Colby 3-27, Lambert 1-5, Atwood 1-4, Moss 2-0, Kugler 1- (minus-1), Shoemaker 1-(-3).
Olpe — Colb. Hoelting, 16-34-4, 187 yards.
Smith Center — Colby, 3-3-0, 51 yards.
Olpe — Cam. Hoelting 7-85, Cox 3-47, McCarthy 3-31, Barnard 2-15.
Smith Center — Benoit 1-22, Kugler 1-21, Peterson 1-8.