Beavers corral Mustangs in district opener
Senior linebacker Sloan Baker is tackled after intercepting a pass near the goal line during Friday's 49-0 shutout of Southwestern Heights.
By Rod Haxton, editor
On a night when Scott City could literally score at will - six straight possessions to open the game - it was a rare mistake by the Beavers that created one of their highlights.
Following Friday’s 49-0 smackdown of Southwestern Heights (2-5), junior deep return man Wyatt Kropp was upset with himself for mishandling a punt that gave the Mustangs first-and-goal at the four yard line late in the first half.
The SCHS defense preserved the shutout with an interception by linebacker Sloan Baker at the goal line.
“That gave us a reason to get fired up,” senior linebacker Marshal Hutchins assured Kropp after the game. “If it wasn’t for that we wouldn’t have had much to talk about.”
Well, not much, except for the six first half touchdowns.
And maybe the four interceptions - one of them returned for a score.
SCHS (7-0) entered the opening round of district play expecting to get an easy win and they got it, even with starting quarterback Trey O’Neil on the sideline as he waits for his knee to recover from an injury that occurred during the Hugoton game two weeks earlier.
With back-up quarterback Brett Meyer under center for the entire first quarter and JV quarterback Bo Hess taking snaps the remainder of the night, the Beavers were more than capable of putting up points and extending their district win streak over the past seven seasons to 17 games.
“The boys know what our next opponents are like and what their records are,” says head coach Glenn O’Neil. “We emphasize that we have to focus on our game and not play down to the level of our opponent. During practices all week, I feel like that’s what we did, but on Friday we played at a level where I expected us to be. We were focused and took care of business.”
Great Field Position
Not that the Beavers needed the extra help, but they had great field position for each of their seven scoring drives.
Scott City’s worst starting field position was their own 47 and three drives started inside the Heights 33 yard line.
“When you can score 49 points with less than 300 yards of offense that’s some short touchdown drives,” notes O’Neil.
Or no touchdown drives, as with the 38 yard interception return by Meyer for a touchdown that put the Beavers on top, 21-0. Less than 2-1/2 minutes later that was followed by a Meyer to Drake McRae touchdown pass covering 25 yards which gave SCHS a 28-0 first quarter lead.
After that, the only question was whether Meyer might have an opportunity to score a third touchdown as a receiver when he hauled in a 16 yard pass from sophomore Bo Hess early in the second quarter. Meyer had one more pass thrown in his direction, but was unable to make the acrobatic catch on the near sideline.
“It would have been pretty neat to score three touchdowns three different ways,” noted Meyer. “With Trey coming back, I probably won’t get that chance again and that’s fine with me. I’d a lot rather be playing wide receiver.”
On the next play, junior runningback Wyatt Kropp was untouched on a 30 yard scoring run.
Because of the short field, and the second half running clock, touches were very limited for the SCHS runningbacks. Twelve players carried the ball, led by Hutchins with 54 yards on eight carries while Kropp had just three carries for 51 yards.
The SCHS defense continues to improve after posting their third shutout of the season and the fourth consecutive game in which they have held an opponent to a touchdown or less.
Defensively, the SCHS defense forced three-and-outs by the Mustangs on five of their first eight possessions. Two other possessions ended in interceptions.
SWH had just 92 yards of total offense - all on the ground - and only five first downs.
Finding a role for junior Abe Wiebe at defensive end has helped to solidify the defense over the last three games. In limited playing time against the Mustangs he had seven tackles (two solo). That comes on the heels of the Ulysses game in which he had six tackles - two behind the line of scrimmage.
“I’ve been jumping around this year. I started at linebacker, then went to (defensive) tackle and then, against Holcomb, I got my starting spot at defensive end. I’ve been working pretty hard at it,” says Wiebe. “I’m getting a better feel for the position and I’m able to start being more aggressive.
“D end is where I started last season and I’m glad to be returning to that position. It’s where I feel most comfortable.”
Likewise, Wiebe feels the defense is getting better with each game.
“We keep learning something new and finding ways to improve,” he adds.
The only serious test for the defense was late in the opening period when the Mustangs recovered a fumbled punt at the four yard line. Following a one yard gain and a penalty against SCHS, SWH was looking at third-and-goal from the one. The short drive ended with an interception by Baker on the next play.
That was the last time that the Mustangs crossed midfield the rest of the night.
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