Breaking down this week's area football games

By Steve Sell
September 11, 2014
Kevin Case, Inman

Here are thumbnail sketches of this Friday's McPherson area football games:

• Smoky Valley at Sterling •

The Vikings will try to bounce back after opening the season with perhaps the toughest team on their schedule, losing 27-7 to Hesston.

“We played well at times in all phases of the game,” Smoky Valley coach Chris Hattabaugh said. “We just were not consistent enough. Offensively we must finish drives. We moved the football effectively, but always got bogged down or turned it over. Hesston deserves a lot of credit for that though. Defensively it seemed we were on the field all night. We must tackle better and we didn't create any turnovers, which we were good at last season. I expect our kids will bounce back and have a good effort against Sterling.”

The Black Bears were rather porous in a 54-20 loss to Hillsboro.

“Sterling is a young football team trying to break in a number of new players,” Hattabaugh said. “They will get better each week. They have a wide receiver/linebacker that is 6-6 and 225 pounds. Obviously that is a matchup nightmare for most of our guys. Their quarterback also throws a nice ball.”

The Vikings’ Aaron Taylor had a quality game last week with 114 yards on 19 carries, much of that coming in the second half. Cole Norberg threw for 118 yards, but was picked off three times by the talented Swather secondary.

• Peabody at Canton-Galva •

The talent level of the Eagles’ opponent Friday goes from the outhouse to the penthouse.

The Eagles were sensational in stomping Central Christian 64-16 last week, but Peabody will be a different type of animal. The Warriors blitzed Goessel 54-8 last week in a game, like C-G’s, ended by the point rule.

“Peabody has as much talent as any 8-man team in the state,” C-G coach Jeff Savage said. “They have a huge senior class and incredible depth. They are aggressive and very quick, which is ideal for 8-man football. They were 8-1 last season, including a win over two-time defending state champion Madison and they have most of their key people back. It will be a test of how good we are at this time.”

The Eagles were extremely sharp in their first game. Travis Unruh ran for four scores and threw for two, and he had some help.

“Our offensive line gave great effort and we executed the passing game very well for the first week,” Savage said.

The Eagles’ defense is going to have to step up its game, though.

“Defensively we need to do a better job of reading our keys and running to the football,” Savage said.

 • Bennington at Inman •

The Teutons’ defense bent much of last week, but kept the score competitive with the high-octane Ell-Saline Cardinals, losing only 20-8.

“We shot ourselves in the foot too many times, but our mistakes are fixable if we practice hard this week,” said Inman coach Ed Ramsey, who makes his home coaching debut Friday. “Our team caught my eye, we did compete.”

Bennington comes into the game off a narrow 8-7 win over Remington.

“Bennington spreads the ball and has some speed,” Ramsey said.

The Teutons hope to get their offense untracked this week. Lucas Barlow was a bright spot last week for the Teutons with two catches for 90 yards.

• Halstead at Hesston •

The Swathers hope to build on last week’s impressive 27-7 victory over Smoky Valley in what was a matchup of 2013 divisional champions.

“Last week was a good opening week for us,” Hesston coach Clint Rider said. “Our players executed very well and our defense was outstanding the entire game and got big stops when we need them. We did have too many penalties that killed some drives that we need to clean up moving forward. Smoky Valley is a big, physical squad and a good football team, so you have to be proud to come out of there with a win.”

New Swather quarterback Grant Raleigh ran for 104 yards and three touchdowns while also throwing for another 201. Zach Esau grabbed four balls for 54 yards.

“Grant Raleigh played exceptionally well on offense and gives us great diversity,” Rider said. “Brad Simpson also had a great game defensively setting the edge against their offense. Cole Rostetter had a big night on both sides of the ball making catches, interceptions and coming downhill hard from his safety position. His one-handed sliding catch was maybe the best catch I've ever seen in person.”

Halstead also is 1-0, outlasting Haven 22-14 in its opener.

“Halstead is a scary opponent and one that we certainly won't overlook,” Rider said. “This game means a lot to both communities, and their fans and players. They can be very explosive in the open field. Blake Beckett and Eli McKee are a very good tandem in the backfield and Tate Kauffman is a great tight end. They run a lot of double-tight sets and run the ball very well.”

• Centre at Little River •

The Redskins were an impressive winner over Rural Vista 46-22 last week, as Grant Harvey scored five touchdowns and rushed for 119 yards, while Laramie Peters was the thunder with 111 yards on 13 carries, though he suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him out this week.

"We were able to run the ball effectively behind some solid blocking up front, but were not able to establish a passing game," Little River coach Paul Dold said. "Kyler Cox, Chord Zeller and Colin January blocked very well at center, right guard and right end."

Centre got caught up in a track meet Solomon as it was outrun, 62-36. Dold said Centre has some weapons.

"Centre will be a tough opponent with three tough backs that will attack the edge with sweeps and spread the field with the passing game," Dold said.

• Ell-Saline at Moundridge •

The Wildcats are home for a second straight week against an Ell-Saline team that is playing the McPherson County circuit early in the year, having defeated Inman 20-8 last week.

Moundridge started its season with a 38-7 loss to Marion.

"One word — bad," Moundridge coach Courtney Moddelmog said of last week. "Our front eight played well against the run, which made Marion pass, but our back three have some improving to do. Offensively we were just as bad as we all took turns making mistakes."

There were a couple of bright spots, Moddelmog said. He was especially pleased with the play of Trenton Olson and Deshawn Pfeiff as he called them "relentless" in going to the football. 

Ell-Saline will provide few surprises, Moddelmog said, as the Cardinals always rely on their speed

"Ell-Saline plays really fast and has some decent size up front," he said. "We will have to pick up our speed and stay on blocks. Luiz Antonio Arceo is their quarterback and he can hurt you in many ways, option, throwing or scrambling. They also have several really nice running backs that look shifty and fast on film. But their motor goes with their stud lineman Evan Morrical. He is 6-0 and 245 pounds and is a bull in china shop and can live in your backfield."