Area preview: Little River seeks 2nd win

By Steve Sell
September 17, 2015

Little River saved the area from being shut out of the "W" column last week.

The youthful Redskins evened their record at 1-1 with a 38-26 victory over Centre and they'll try to make it two straight this week when they host Peabody.

"We saw improvement, but not nearly enough to compete during the rest of the season," Little River coach Paul Dold said. "Our offensive line play showed the most improvement, but defensively, across the board, we were very undisciplined."

Peabody comes in on a high as well, having routed Canton-Galva 56-18.

"Peabody is always a tough opponent that will be cranked up and ready to play," Dold said. "They have a couple tough backs and will look to exploit weaknesses presented by the defense."

Clay Zeller had a strong game last week as he led the Redskins in both rushing and passing and will need to duplicate that effort this week.

• Bennington at Moundridge •

The Wildcats may need a compass to find their way to the game.

Moundridge is finally playing before its home faithful against a Bennington team that is off to a spotless 2-0 start.

The Wildcats are 0-2, but have been highly competitive in both games.

"Our kids continue to improve every day and that is what we are looking for," said Wildcat coach Matt Cole, who is looking at the big picture of qualifying for postseason play. "To start out the season on the road against two of the toughest 2A teams in the state would challenge any team, yet we not only believe we could have won both games, but should have won both games. We had an outstanding performance by our kick return team, putting two scores on the board and really seeing this unique return strategy does work."

 Bennington scraped by Inman 19-8 last week.

"This week doesn't get any easier as we take on a great Bennington team who comes in at 2-0 and flying high," Cole said. "They are well coached with great speed at skill spots and a couple of talented bigs up front. Just as with our first two opponents, we have a pretty good idea what they're going to do and our kids are ready."

And there's the excitement of being home, which it is only once in the first five weeks.

"More than anything we're excited to be finally coming home and playing for the first time this year in front of our home crowd," Cole said. "We're dinged up a little bit, but we still get to put 11 out against their 11 so we will put a healthy bunch on the field that we believe in 100 percent and expect to go out a win our first ballgame."

• Trinity Catholic at Inman •

Just being competitive doesn't cut it for second-year Inman coach Edward Ramsey.

The Teutons, for the second week in a row, played a highly regarded opponent close, only to lose.

Inman was defeated 19-8 by Bennington.

"We saw improvement defensively, but took a step backwards offensively," Ramsey said. "Ben Pankratz stepped in and played corner and did a wonderful job, leading the team in tackles."

The Teutons continue their brutal early season schedule this week as Trinity has been a strong program for years. However, it's also hungry for a win after falling to 0-2 last week with a 28-8 loss to Marion.

"They are 0-2, but we saw them on film and they're very physical," Ramsey said. "Being physical and aggressive is what we have to get better at."

Chad Sprunger was a bright spot last week as he rushed for 86 yards and scored the lone Teuton touchdown. Keaton Case threw for 83 yards, all to Kane Timmesh.   

• Smoky Valley at Haven •

Smoky Valley improved defensively in its second game of the season, but the offense remained stuck in neutral.

After losing 35-0 to Hesston in its opener, the Vikings clamped down on the defensive side and allowed just a single score to Sterling, but that was enough as the Black Bears came away with a 6-0 victory.

“We had significant improvement from a week ago, but just made a few too many mistakes,” Viking coach Tim Lambert said.

Haven scored a 22-14 victory last week over Hillsboro, which means its halfway home to its victory total of last year when it finished 2-7. 

• Canton-Galva at Burrton •

Burrton would appear to be a team the Eagles might have a chance to break through against.

But C-G can’t afford any more injuries, as first-year coach Dustin Patee said his team is down to 11 players since two-way standout Caleb Sovde was hurt last week and is out.

Yet, Patee is optimistic.

“We saw a huge improvement in effort and resiliency (last week), but we still turned the ball over too much,” Patee said.

Burrton also has threadbare numbers.

“Burrton has three good defenders and one great ball carrier,” Patee said. “If we can get around the defenders and stop or at least slow down the ball carrier, we should stay in the game.”

Burrton is 0-2 and lost 28-12 last week to Stafford. 

With Sovde out, Jacob Smith stepped up to lead the Eagles last week.

“Jacob Smith had an amazing game at linebacker,” Patee said. “We need him to step up big time with the numbers we have the rest of this year.”

 • Hesston at Sterling •

It's a position the Swathers haven't been in too often since Clint Rider took over as head coach in 2013.

The Swathers are looking to bounce back from an 18-6 setback to state-ranked Halstead, only the second regular-season loss during Rider's tenure.

The Swathers should be able to get well on Friday.

Sterling outlasted Smoky Valley 6-0 in a defensive slugfest last week. The Swathers had played the Vikings the first week of the season, rolling up 35 first-half points in breezing to a 35-0 victory.

“The easy thought would be to think that we regressed from Week 1 to Week 2, but we played a very good team in Halstead,” Rider said. “Defensively, we did a really good job not letting McKee or Beckett break out long runs. On that side of the football we were phenomenal and coach Broadfoot, our defensive coordinator, had a great game plan. Our players fly to the football and have exceeded my expectations as to where I thought we would be at this point.”

It’s a rarity when the Swathers don’t put up big points.

“Offensively, our drives to start each half were positives, but we left around 21 points on the board by stalling out in the red zone and twice inside the 10-yard line,” Rider said. “We were very close to having the lead in that game had we finished drives in the red zone, but give Halstead's defense credit for making plays in that area of the field.”

Several players had good games despite the loss.

“Zach Vogt was all over the field making plays on defense,” Rider said. “Getting tackles for loss is pretty difficult playing safety, but he had multiple of them. Jon Weber also played extremely tough. Garrett Roth, Zach Esau and Trevor Koehn had great games on defense as well.

“Offensively, Tanner Bachman made some really nice plays in space and Alex Hostetler was very productive running the football when we asked him to. Zach Esau settled into the game in the second half and really made a lot of progress in his second start.”

Sterling won’t be overlooked, Rider said.

“Sterling is an improved squad from last season as they were very young,” Rider said. “They are a team that is big up front and likes to get moving downhill quickly. They have a mobile quarterback who a great runner in space. We will need to stay focused as this team has shown they are very hungry.”