Ethan Abell was more than able.
The same could be said for his Oakley Plainsmen teammates.
Abell rushed for 273 yards and scored Oakley’s first five touchdowns in a 40-6 district victory over Sacred Heart on Friday night at Graves Family Sports Complex.
The win locked up third place in Class 1A’s district 3 for Oakley. It was the final district game for the Plainsmen, who are now 5-2 overall, 4-2 in the district heading into next week’s regular-season finale against Sublette.
Abell set the tone early, getting touchdown carries of 40 and 8 yards on Oakley’s first two possessions.
After a Knights defensive stop to start the second quarter, Oakley faced a first-and-24 at its own 17-yard line on the next possession. Abell, a senior tailback, slipped through a pair of potential tackles on his way to the left sideline, where he found a clear path to the end zone for an 83-yard scoring run.
An Evan Bogart interception for Sacred Heart late in the first half kept the score 21-0, but Abell had touchdown carries of 3 and 44 yards on Oakley’s first two possessions of the second half to stretch the lead to 34-0.
"We knew this was our last district game coming in here and we had to have a big effort all night," Abell said. "I love this team and its relentlessness.
"The line did a great job. They fixed some things at halftime and I fixed some things. We got better and that’s what we have to do if we are going to make a run in the playoffs."
Sacred Heart (2-5, 1-4) was coming off back-to-back wins, but some of the issues the Knights dealt with in an 0-4 start resurfaced Friday night.
"We need to clean up the mental mistakes and tackling," said first-year Sacred Heart coach Shane Richards. "We battled all the way in, but we have to clean up those mental mistakes."
Abell didn’t have a carry in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Landyn Plummer took over and had Oakley’s final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 7:01 to play.
SMITH CENTER 46, ELL-SALINE 13 — Jake Sasse scored four times and had 243 yards rushing to lead the Redmen at home against Ell-Saline.
Sasse got his first touchdown with 10:25 left in the first quarter on a 1-yard run. Sasse added scores of 2 and 61 yards, and Griffin Kugler added a 17-yarder for the Redmen in the second.
Nate Hendrich’s 40-yard touchdown with 8:41 left in the third gave Smith Center (6-1) a 34-0 lead.
Sasse put the finishing touches on his night in the fourth with a 3-yard run with 7:39 to play.
Ell-Saline avoided the shutout with 17-yard touchdown pass from TJ Morrical to Taegan Bradley 1.
Hendrich added an 89-yard kickoff return for Smith Center, before Ell-Saline completed the scoring with 34 seconds left on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Kade Wilson to Keenan Drees.
Morrical was 11 of 20 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown. Drees led the Cardinals with 130 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
Ell-Saline fell to 2-5.
VICTORIA 58, TESCOTT 0 — At Victoria, the Knights stayed unbeaten at 7-0, outgaining Tescott 239-44. Grant Schoenrock ran for two scores and also threw for a TD while Jayvon Pruitt had two touchdowns on the ground. Seth Schwien had a 56-yard pick six.
ELLIS 47, SOUTHWESTERN HEIGHTS 14 — At Ellis, the RailRoaders moved into the fourth spot in Class 2A District 7. The Railers (3-4 overall, 1-3 district) were led by Mason Gottschalk’s 205 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Konnor Pfeifer had 96 yards rushing with two TDs.
GOODLAND 33, RUSSELL 16 — At Goodland, Leyton Cure rushed for 157 yards and four touchdowns and also threw for 159 yards and a TD to help the Cowboys move to 3-3.
HOXIE 50, STOCKTON 0 — At Stockton, the Indians rolled past the Tigers to move to 5-1 on the season with their fifth straight win. Brady Jones ran for three touchdowns while Cade Gourley had two on the ground. Quarterback Ashton Dowell threw a pair of touchdowns to Aidan Baalmaan.
HILL CITY 46, WAKEENEY-TREGO 0 — At Hill City, Ringnecks’ quarterback Derek Keith threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more scores. Kaleb Atkins added 111 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for Hill City (4-2, 2-1 district).
HOISINGTON 33, NORTON 6 — In a rematch of last year’s Class 2A state semifinal that saw Norton upset Hoisington, the Cardinals got the better of the Bluejays this time around.
The game was deadlocked at 6 at halftime but Hoisington reeled off 27 points unanswered in the second half to remain unbeaten at 7-0. Sean Anderson scored the Bluejays’ lone touchdown on a pass from Joan Ruder. Norton dropped to 3-3 overall and 0-3 in district play.
CHEYLIN 46, NORTHERN VALLEY 0 — At Almena on Thursday, Colton McCarty ran for 106 yards and four touchdowns while 138 yards and four touchdowns while Logan McCarty threw for three scores to help Cheylin move to 6-0 in the six-man ranks.
ST. FRANCIS 62, WHEATLAND-GRINNELL 16 — The Indians again proved why they are considered the favorite to win the Eight-Man Division II title, rolling to an easy win and moving to 6-0.
TRIPLAINS-BREWSTER 50, LOGAN-PALCO 48 — At Brewster, Ryan Hause rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns, Daxton Lathan had 106 yards and a TD on the ground and Cayde Welsh finished with 99 yards and two TDs to help the Titans pick up their third straight win and move to 5-2.
LEBO 70, THUNDER RIDGE 40 — In a netural-site game at Sylvan Grove, the Longhorns dropped a high-scoring battle, falling to 4-3 on the season.
PHILLIPSBURG 22, ELLSWORTH 21 — At Ellsworth, the Panthers pulled out a 1-point win move to 3-1 in district.
PLAINVILLE 35, ELLINWOOD 7 — At Ellinwood, Plainville moved into the fourth spot in its district with the win.
NESS CITY 48, MEADE 0 — At Ness City, the Eagles improved to 3-3 on the season with the blowout win.
GOLDEN PLAINS 56, WESKAN 41— At Rexford on Thursday, the Bulldogs moved improved to 3-2 on the season.
ATWOOD 42, OBERLIN 8 — At Atwood, the Buffaloes notched their third straight win to move to 3-2 on the season.
OSBORNE 1, SOUTHERN CLOUD 0 (forfeit) — The Bulldogs moved to 4-3 on the season by virtue of the forfeit.
OTIS-BISON 58, CHASE 3 — At Otis, the Cougars improved to 2-5 on the season with the lopsided win.
PRATT-SKYLINE 44, LA CROSSE 34 — At Pratt, La Crosse (3-3) saw a three-game win streak snapped and took its first district loss.
SCOTT CITY 28, COLBY 0 — At Scott City, the Beavers dropped the Eagles to 5-2 on the season.
SYLVAN-LUCAS 36, WILSON 6 — At Wilson, Sylvan-Lucas moved to 5-2 on the season.
Larry Moritz, Special to The Salina Journal, contributed to this report.