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Local Sports News
Sabetha Sub State Football Preview Against Galena
By Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports

It's down to the final four of the high school football playoffs and all four Class 3A teams are undefeated. On the west side of the bracket, Pratt meets Andale, while on the east, its defending state champion Sabetha hosting Galena. The Bluejays have won 18 straight games.

After traveling last Friday from Southeast Kansas 300 miles one-way to Marysville, Galena gets rewarded for their double-overtime victory by making a four-hour trip back north to Sabetha. It's the first meeting between the schools and first Sub-State game for Galena since 2009. Last year, the Bulldogs won their initial CNC title since 2011 and advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to Silver Lake 13-6. This year, Galena is 11-0 and and has outscored their opponents 487-103 or by an average of 44 to 9.

Coach Beau Sarwinski is in his 12th season as Galena Head Coach and won his 100th game last week in one of the best games in the state all season. The 42-36 thriller in 2OT, saw Galena respond from a 24-0 defecit to take a 30-24 lead, then make a pair of two-point-conversion stops at the end of regulation and overtime, before forcing a fumble in double-overtime and scoring a touchdown on fourth and one for the win. It was the only win by less than 18 points all season for the Bulldogs, who have pitched five shutouts and allowed just one score in two other contests.

In their eight straight playoff campaign, Galena is led by senior quarterback J.C. Shelton who has 775 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns and has completed 60-88 passes for 988 yards and 10 more scores. Kooper Lawson has 881 yards on the ground to pace Galena's rushing attack while Nick Sarwinski has 556 and Joseph Helton 396 rushing. Blake Booth leds the Bulldogs with 21 catches for 383 receiving yards while Sarwinski and Helton have both surpassed 200 yards on 24 combined receptions.

"They are a heckuva good football team and very disiplined," Coach Sarwinski said of Sabetha.  "But our team keeps playing with a lot of guts and resiliency while believing in one another.  If we keep playing every play like it is our last and get some breaks here and there, we feel like we are going to have an opportunity and are very excited."   

Sabetha had a much easier time last week winning at Parsons 62-18, which included a 35-point outburst in the second quarter to pull away from a 7-6 lead. The Bluejays ran for 489 yards with Joe Gruber (senior) toting the pigskin 22 times for 210 yards and a trio of touchdowns. Junior quarterback Gabe Garber added 121 yards and three scores of his own and passed for another touchdown to Ryan Stapleton.

Gruber now has 1,167 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the season while Garber has ran for 977 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 45-67 passes for 858 yards and 11 more TD's with just one interception. Stapleton continues to pace the receivers with 14 catches for 303 yards and five trips to the endzone while Braedon Cox, Gruber and Drew Schmelzle also have more than 100 receiving yards. Sabetha is averaging 397 yards and 40 points per game on offense and their defense has allowed a mere 8.2 points per outing with four shutouts and four other games holding the opposition to just a single score. Garber and Cauy Rokey each have 93 tackles for a defense that has 25 takeaways in 2018. Cox has eight interceptions and has also been a stud on special teams kicking five of six field goals this season and 48-56 PAT's (141-159 career) while routinely sending kickoffs into the endzone.

In 22 years at Sabetha, Coach Garrett Michael, who guided the Bluejays to their third state football title and first apperance since 1997 last year, has had Sabetha in the post-season all 10 years he has been the head coach. The Jays in fact have played into November in 14 of the last 15 seasons.

"When I watch film of Galena, it just looks like a mirror image of us, "Coach Michael stated.  "They want to be physical and they have some good guys in the trenches and their defense is sound and they have some playmakers. Their quarterback is really good and very comparable to Dalton Kellum of Perry Lecompton, who fortunately we have had the chance to face four times in the last 13 months."    

The game kicks off at 5:00 PM on Friday night in Sabetha with live coverage on KNZA 103.9 FM and The winner advances to the State Championship game in Hutchinson on Saturday, November 24th.

©2019 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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