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Local Sports News
Axtell and Hanover 8-man DII State Football Semifinals Preview
By Jonny Kane
Copyright: MSC Sports

It’s the rematch that everyone has been hoping for from what may have been the game of the year to this point across the state of Kansas as Friday night the No. 1-ranked Hanover Wildcats travel to Axtell to take on the No. 2-ranked Eagles in the sub-state round of the 8-man DII high school football playoffs.

The Eagles (10-1) are looking to get revenge on the Wildcats (11-0) who gave Axtell their only loss to this point back in week six which was a shootout victory for Hanover, 50-42.

That was a game that saw nearly everything imaginable including Axtell holding a 34-28 lead in the third quarter before Hanover scored three unanswered touchdowns to take control.

It was by far Hanover’s most competitive game they have played to this point as Axtell’s high powered offense kept up with the Wildcats for the most part early on answering score for score.

Axtell junior quarterback Quinn Buessing threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns in the contest while also rushing for two more, but a pick-six on his very first pass of the game proved to be the difference.

Buessing is far and away the leader of the Eagles as he has shown this season that he is one of the top quarterbacks in the state.

Last week he showed just that throwing for 290 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another in Axtell’s 54-8 sectional round win over Waverly.

So far this season Buessing has put up staggering numbers as he has thrown for 2,380 yards and 50 touchdowns against just two interceptions completing 71 percent of his passes leading an offense that is averaging 60 points per game.

Not only can Buessing throw the ball with the best of them but he has also increased his running and is now a true dual-threat as he leads the Eagles in rushing with 630 yards and 12 more scores.

He isn’t alone though on offense as he has one of the top receivers in the state at his disposal in senior Hunter Koch who has broken two state records so far this season.

Last week Koch caught four passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns pushing his season total to 33 which is now the state record for touchdown receptions in a single season. He also holds the state record for touchdown catches in a career with 63, and on the season he has compiled over 1,200 yards receiving to go along with the 33 scores.

Along with Koch the Eagles have three other guys over 300 yards receiving on the year, as sophomore George Volle has 480 yards, junior J.J. Hart 453 and junior Derek Buessing 303.

Hart also has 439 rushing yards on the year while Volle has recorded 250 yards on the ground.

Defensively the Eagles are giving up just 16 points per game and have pitched two shutouts on the year as well.

Axtell is led on defense by senior Nate Buessing who has over 100 tackles and 11 tackles for loss on the season, while sophomore Kolby Talbot is second on the team with 96 tackles and 11 more tackles for loss. The Eagles have also forced 26 turnovers this season and have eight sacks on the year as well.

Axtell will have to be at their best Friday night if they want to have a chance to stop a Hanover offense that is averaging 50 points per game.

While Hanover is averaging 50 points per game their defense might be equally as impressive, as the Wildcats have pitched six shutouts this season and besides the Axtell game and the playoff win over Frankfort have held every opponent under 10 points this season.

Last week the Wildcats pitched another shutout in a 46-0 blowout of St. Paul in a game that was ended at halftime. Senior quarterback Daiken Stallbaumer threw for 135 yards and four touchdowns in the win along with a rushing score, tossing two touchdowns to Peter Peters and one each to Cade Cohorst and Conlin Juneman.

On the season Stallbaumer has completed 72 percent of his passes for 895 yards and 15 touchdowns to just one interception, while he is second on the team in rushing with 569 yards and 15 more scores.

Hanover is led on the ground by senior Carter Bruna who has nearly 900 yards rushing this season with 17 touchdowns averaging 11 yards per attempt. Junior Taegan Schwartz also has 391 yards rushing with seven touchdowns while Colin Juneman has ran for 235 yards and five TD’s.

Senior Thomas Atkins is the leading receiver for Stallbaumer and the Wildcats as he has 236 yards and four touchdowns, while Justin Naegele has 233 yards and three more scores. Senior Pete Peters only has 167 yards receiving on the year, but he has scored six touchdowns which leads the receiving core.

Peters also leads the Wildcats defensively with 58 total tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss, while junior Jonah Weber is second on the team with 48 tackles and 8.5 more tackles for loss.

Hanover has recorded 15 sacks this season and have 25 turnovers as well, with two coming on interceptions in the first meeting with Axtell which are Quinn Buessing’s only interceptions on the year.

With the two teams being so even it may just come down to the turnover battle along with special teams playing a huge part as well.

Axtell is looking to play for a state title for the third time in school history, while Hanover has won the last two 8-man DII State Titles and is looking to make state title game number seven in the school’s history.

The winner Friday night will be playing for the 8-man DII State Championship next week against either Osborne (10-1) or Dighton (9-2) who is playing in the West Division semifinals.

Kickoff between the Eagles and Wildcats is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night in Axtell with complete coverage on 92.1 KMZA or online with pregame beginning around 6:40 p.m.

©2019 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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