Oakley’s run ends with 14-0 loss to Olpe in 1A title game

Rick Peterson Jr.
rpeterson@dailynews.net
Oakley's Ethan Abell (21) vaults an Olpe defender during the 1A State Football Championship Game Saturday in Hays. Abell had 69 yards on the ground for the Plainsmen in a 14-0 loss to Olpe.

After falling behind by two touchdowns, Oakley coach Jeff Hennick felt his Plainsmen were one big play away from getting right back into the Class 1A state championship game.

But against the stingiest defense in the state, that one play was hard to come by.

Oakley’s defense played well enough to keep Olpe from completely pulling away, but the Plainsmen couldn’t find the momentum-changing play, taking a 14-0 loss on Saturday at Lewis Field Stadium.

Olpe (13-0) surrendered just 35 points all season long.

“I know that our kids know that they’ve played better games,” Oakley coach Jeff Hennick said. “Hats off to (Olpe). They took away a lot of the stuff we like to do.”

Olpe limited the Plainsmen (10-3) to just 134 yards of offense and six first downs. It was the seventh shutout of the season for the Eagles in 11 games (Olpe got a bye and COVID-19 forfeit in the playoffs).

“One block away, one big offensive play away, one defensive play away,” Hennick said of Oakley turning the tide. “A couple times when we had to make a defensive play, they found somebody right in the middle of the field. Hats off to their quarterback (Damon Redeker). Their quarterback made so many plays for that team today to extend drives.”

Olpe, which captured its second state title in program history, limited the Plainsmen to just 52 yards on 28 attempts on the ground. Oakley standout senior running back Ethan Abell had 69 yards on 19 carries.

“I think it starts up front with our linemen and doing a good job of cutting their linemen down and letting our second tier flow to the football,” Olpe coach Chris Schmidt said. “They got two real good running backs, and I thought we did a nice job of crowding. They got a 10-yard gain here and there, but we didn’t let them have the big play, and that was big.”

Redeker tossed a pair of touchdowns in the first half, and the defense took care of the rest. He found a wide-open Kynden Robert on fourth and goal at the 2 with 4:41 left in the first quarter. The Eagles pushed the lead to 14 early in the second quarter when Redeker scrambled to find Gabriel Castillo for a 13-yard TD.

Redeker rushed for 119 yards on 20 carries while adding 86 yards through the air.

“He’s an athlete, so we kind of want to put him in that decision where he can make the pass, or if nothing’s there, he can run,” Schmidt said. “He did a nice job, especially in the first half of getting outside containment and causing them some trouble.”

Oakley’s best scoring chance came late in the first half after Abell blocked a punt that gave it to the Plainsmen at the Olpe 49. Two runs by Abell put the Plainsmen in the red zone, but Oakley turned it over on downs at the 17.

Christian Koch had a team-high 12 tackles for Oakley, while Hunter Scheck, Jenson Schoenfield and Jonathan Temaat each had nine. Corbin Bockwinkel had an interception in the third quarter but the Plainsmen couldn’t take advantage.

The Plainsmen’s 10 wins were a seven-win improvement from last year. They avenged their two regular-season losses, beating Smith Center and Inman in the quarterfinals and semis to make the first state title game in program history.

"These kids did a heckuva job to get here this year," Hennick said. "... Just for us to be able to get here was something that these kids will remember for the rest of their life. The ride that they've taken the community and me and our staff on, they've brought pride back to Oakley. I hope that pride stays there."

Hennick told his team to keep things in perspective.

“In the big aspect of things, football is a little bitty thing in life,” he said. “It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt tomorrow and the next day and probably for a week or two. But the sun’s going to come up tomorrow and we’re going to get back to the grind and there will be another good day.”

He hopes Oakley’s breakthrough year can be a springboard for future success for the program.

“Moving forward, these kids got a taste and they know what it takes to get here,” Hennick said. “I hope that our young kids, kids in second, third, fourth, fifth grade, middle school kids, I hope that they want to be here someday.

“Once you get that taste, it becomes pretty sweet, and I hope that they got that taste now.”

OLPE 14, OAKLEY 0

Olpe (13-0);7;7;0;0;—;14;

Oakley (10-2);0;0;0;0;—;0

Olpe — Robert 2 pass from Redeker (Castillo kick)

Olpe — Castillo 13 pass from Redeker (Castillo kick)

Individual statistics

Rushing — Olpe: Redeker 20-119, Robert 9-28, Hoelting 4-5, Olsson 1-1, Team 1-(minus) 1. Oakley: Abell 19-69, Scheck 3-4, Schmidt 1-(minus) 3, Cain 3-9, Team 2-0.

Passing — Olpe: Redeker 7-16-1 86 yards. Oakley: Cain 5-12-1 82 yards.

Receiving — Olpe: Hoelting 5-74, Robert 2-(minus) 1, Castillo 1-13. Oakley: Cunningham 3-21, Schmidt 2-61.

A cluster of Olpe defenders hold Oakley's Hunter Scheck (40) to a minimal gain during the 1A State Football Championship Game on Saturday in Hays.