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Local Sports News
Centralia Set to Battle Smith Center for 1A State Title in Hays
By Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports

It's a rematch of the 2009 Class 1A State Championship football game in Hays that went to overtime. Centralia beat Smith Center 20-12, which ended a record 79-game winning streak for the Redmen. This year, Smith Center returns to the 2019 title match with 22 consecutive victories having won the last two state trophies and are trying for a unprecedented 11th football championship which is more than anyone else in Kansas. Centralia meanwhile is looking for a fourth state football title in their seventh championship game appearance.

Centralia's 2009 championship started a string of three state titles in five years as well as a runner-up. But now the Panthers are making their initial showing since winning it all in 2013. Larry Glatczak is 132-41 in 17 seasons as Head Coach at his alma-mater, coaching each year alongside his friend and classmate, Roger Holthaus (defensive cordinator) who were seniors on the field when Centralia made their first state football title game in 1985. The Panthers are 11-1 this year with 11 straight victories after an opening night loss to Rossville 28-8. During the win streak, Centralia has won all but one game by at least 18 points. They avenged a season ending loss from a year ago by topping Olpe (22-20) in Sectionals before rolling Jackson Heights last week in Sub-State 44-6.

Centralia's defense has been dominant allowing only 12 points per game and less than 190 yards of offense, barely 100 yards per game surrendered on the ground. Offensively, they score 41.5 points per game and average 371 yards per contest, 335 of which come via the ground attack in the single wing.  Centralia is led by senior spinner-back, Kamble Haverkamp with 2,268 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns as well as all 435 of the team's passing yards and six more scores. Devon Feldkamp is now at 1,100 yards rushing for the campaign and has made a dozen trips to the endzone while also leading the team in receiving with 11 grabs for 196 yards and three more touchdowns. Austin Holthaus (junior) has 144 tackles to pace the Panther defense with Ian Haverkamp (junior) has 113 take downs. Feldkamp (junior) and Corbin Becker (senior) are closing in on the century mark in tackles this season as well and Treydon Talley (sophomore) and Tyler Heinen (senior) are posting nearly six stops per game. Centralia has just five seniors that start and has converted 25 of their two-point tries after touchdown in 2019. 

Smith Center won their first 10 games of this season all by at least 20 points then beat Sedgwick 21-10 in the quarterfinals before rallying with a score in the final two minutes to knock off Plainville 20-19 in the semi's last week and securing that win with a late interception.  It was the third straight year Redmen ended the Plainville season in Sub-State and they have beaten them six total times now the last three years.  

The win for Smith Center came despite losing their top runningback Jaden Atwood (senior) who leads the team with 1,635 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns this season. Colton Shoemaker, another senior has added 868 yards on the ground and Nate Hendrich has another 688 in the wishbone attack. Senior, Trenton Colby has also been efficient completing 60 percent of his passes for 798 yards and 14 touchdowns, including the game-winner to Griffin Kugler from 33 yards out last week. Kugler has 43 receptions for 683 yards and 12 TD grabs, but no one else has more than three catches this year. Smith Center averages 343 yards per game rushing and 409 total yards per contest scoring 36.4 points per game. The defense is led by Joel Montgomery (senior) with 105 tackles. However, Atwood, Shoemaker and Jacob Conrad all have more than 80 stops as well as freshman, Jake Sasse.  Smith Center has 38 takeaways this year and forced 23 fumbles. Sergio Lambert grabbed the clinching interception a week ago and also has connected on 41 of 48 PAT kicks in 2019.

Darren Sasse is the head coach in his sixth season since taking over for legend, Roger Barta. He is also a Smith Center graduate from 1991 and coached the Redmen junior high program from 2000-2012. The loss of Atwood last week is the third key injury that Smith Center has suffered this season losing two-year starter Aaron Moss in week two and starting lineman Charlie Timmons as well. 

The 1A State Championship game kicks off at 1:00 PM in Hays on Saturday with live and local coverage by Justin Fluke and Mike Tanking on KNZA 103.9 FM and free online at   

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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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