Close games were a rarity for the Phillipsburg and Smith Center football teams in the 2018 season and the state championship games were no exception.
The Mid-Continent League foe Panthers and Redmen cruised to their respective state titles with shutout wins. Phillipsburg blanked Riley County 27-0 in the 2A title game in Salina to cap a 13-0 season while Smith Center won a second straight championship with a 59-0 rout of Olpe in the 1A championship game at Lewis Field Stadium.
The championship runs for Phillipsburg and Smith Center mark the No. 3 story on The Hays Daily News sports year in review.
Phillipsburg had just one scare all season long, pulling out a 25-24 thriller over Conway Springs in the quarterfinals before advancing to the title game with a 31-14 win over Hoisington.
The Panther senior class went 47-4 in their high school careers, with this year's title following up a 2A-1A championship in 2015.
“Not too bad,″ Phillipsburg coach JB Covington said with a laugh. “The nice thing about it is they’re a great bunch of kids and kids that want to do things right."
Phillipsburg senior quarterback Trey Sides was a Top 11 pick on the Kansas Football Coaches Association All-State football team, throwing for 1,175 yards with 21 touchdowns.
Panther kicker Jonathan Hunnacutt broke the state record for kicking points, finishing his career with 267 points.
Sides and Hunnacutt were joined on the HDN Top 11 All-Area team by teammates Jaret Shelton and Treylan Gross.
“My class has been amazing,″ Sides said. “We’ve grown up playing since fourth grade. We just continued to grow together as a class and we all stuck with football and I’m just glad that we got (the title) this year.″
Phillipsburg handed Smith Center its only loss of the season, taking a 42-14 win in week 3. The Redmen got stronger as the season went on and breezed through their competition in the playoffs.
“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.”
Smith Center's Colby Benoit, Austin Hobelmann and Ethan Peterson were Top 11 picks on The HDN All-Area team.
Another area highlight included Osborne's run to Eight Man Division II state title game, where the Bulldogs fell 58-50 to Hanover in Newton. Osborne, led by senior quarterback Darnell Holloway, finished the year 11-2.