Smith Center, the top-ranked team in Class 1A and two-time defending state champion, opened District 5 play against winless Sacred Heart in dominating fashion Friday night at Graves Family Sports Complex.
Even with a continuous running clock through most of the second half, the Redmen rolled to a 60-0 victory over the Knights.
And to make matters worse for the Knights, who fell to 0-6, injuries cut into an already small roster.
Three Sacred Heart players went down with injuries and head coach Garrett Galanski was afraid they will be out for an extended period of time.
“It doesn’t come down to numbers,” he said. “We have 20 guys – but I have 12 guys I feel comfortable putting in front of a varsity offense or defense without getting themselves hurt.
“When you can’t sub, it really drains and limits what you can do.”
The season wasn’t going well to begin with, but the schedule maker saved the toughest stretch for the second half of the year.
Last week, the Knights lost to La Crosse, a team moving closer to the top five in 1A. Next week Ell-Saline comes to Salina after being ranked as high as 5th this season.
“Some people look at it as a negative thing,” Galanski said. "But I turn it into a positive.
"We are very fortunate to go up against the best teams. We just happen to go up against top-ranked teams.”
The Redmen had nine possessions in the game and scored on all of them as they rolled up 497 yards of total offense to 100 for the Knights.
Sacred Heart’s best chance to score came in the third quarter when Smith Center coach Darren Sasse pulled his starters with a 46-0 lead 24 seconds into the third quarter.
Against the Redmen reserves, the Knights were able to cross midfield and move from their own 36 as deep as the Smith Center 16.
On fourth down and 3 from there, an illegal procedure penalty moved it back five yards and the Redmen defense forced Mac Hemmer into an incompletion to turn the ball over with 1:28 left in the period.
With the clock running, the Redmen tacked on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“The bit thing we wanted to do is improve,” Sasse said of his team’s performance. “Every game we talk about trying to get better.
"We take things we see on the film and try to improve on them the following week. That’s what we did tonight and I’m really happy with our young guys executing there late too, but we’ve got to keep improving. We’re going to see some good teams down the road.”
After playing an improved Republic County team next week, the Redmen will host Ell-Saline in the final game of the regular season before going on into the playoffs.
Statistically, 11 men carried the ball for Smith Center, led by Jaden Atwood 193 yards on 11 carries. The Redmen rolled up 447 yards on 46 rushing plays while the Knights were held to 69 on 25 totes. Quarterback Trenton Colby picked up 72 on the ground and passed for three touchdowns
Jared McCartney got the call 19 times for Sacred Heart and gained 46 yards. Hemmer completed 2 of 9 tosses for 31 yards and Landon Power had the longest catch for 23 yards.