Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sub-State: SM West 48, Lawrence Free State 21

Steffon Ward. KC Star.
Much like the 2006 Sub-State game between these two, Free State started with an impressive opening touchdown drive but missed the extra point and struggled from there on.

The opening drive spanned 89 yards on 16 plays and ended when Joe Dineen took a carry in from a few yards out.  After that the Free State offense completely fell apart and didn't score until SM West's second stringers came in in the second half.

On SM West's offensive possession following the Free State score the Vikings were able to put together a nice drive of their own--centered around key completions from AJ Verdini to Mitchell Wade and Joel Spiller--to get to the Free State 33-yard line.  On the next play Verdini faked a handoff then stepped back and dropped a perfectly timed ball into the hands of Andre Maloney who'd beat the Free State secondary deep.  The score gave the Vikings a 7-6 advantage.

Free State went three-and-out and was forced to punt on their next possession.  Kyle McFarland, punting in place of the normal starter Saxon Mingus, accidentally kicked the ball of the back of the personal protector, Dineen, when the Vikings' defense came with a heavy punt-block rush.  The ball squirmed around before Ben Lake managed to wrangle it and take it in from two yards out.  The touchdown pushed SM West's lead to 14-6.

Free State continued with the erratic play on offense.  They punted on their next possession and SM West was able to capitalize manufacturing a 32-yard field goal from Joey Reed to go up 17-6.

Free State's next possession showed some life when they found themselves in SM West territory, but McFarland was sacked on an all-important fourth down try and the Firebirds turned the ball over on downs.  A few short plays later Verdini found fullback Steffon Ward in the flat on a screen pass which Ward turned into a 34-yard touchdown.  The score pushed SM West's lead to 24-6.

Free State was forced to punt, again, and SM West regained possession near their own 40-yard line with just a minute left in the half.  Verdini found Wade on a 25-yard completion which set the Vikings up at the Free State 27-yard line.  Reed then booted true a 43-yard field goal as time expired on the half, giving SM West a 27-6 halftime lead.

As if the 21-point deficit wasn't enough of a blow, SM West came out firing on the opening kickoff of the second half.  Brett Sterbach fielded the kickoff then reversed it to Maloney who zigged and zagged his way up the sideline into open field then turned on the afterburners and added SM West's fourth touchdown of the day.  The successful two-point conversion gave SM West a comfortable 34-6 lead.

Free State was forced to punt, again, and McFarland kicked the ball off Dineen's back, again, which set SM West up deep in Free State territory.  A few players later Sterbach added his 21st touchdown of the season on a two-yard run which put the Vikings ahead 41-6.

It wasn't until the 7:20 mark of the second half that Free State was finally able to score again when McFarland hit a wide open Tye Hughes in the back of the endzone on a 12-yard touchdown pass.  A successful two-point conversion made things 41-14.  But SM West came right back with a long run from Tory Powell, which set up a short touchdown run from him a few plays later, extending the lead to 48-14.

Free State's last gasp of the season came a few plays later when TJ Cobbs broke loose on a 78-yard touchdown run with 6:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.  From there, SM West drained the clock and closed out the game.

SM West pushed their record to 11-1 with the victory, setting up a date in the 6A state title game with Hutchinson (10-2) next Saturday, November 24, in Topeka at 1 p.m. at Yager Stadium on the campus of Washburn University.  For Free State the tough loss capped an excellent season which saw them go 10-2 and advance to the Sub-State round for just the third time in school history.

KC Metro Sports Post-Game Booth Wrap and Highlights

16 comments:

smwpops said...

How about thoses Vikings!!!! See you in Topeka!!!

smwpops said...

I think west has a QB.............

Eli Underwood said...

This game supported the old adage that it's extremely difficult to beat a good team twice. We'll see if SM West can keep the momentum going on Saturday.

The Biscuit said...

Does John Stonner still coach at West?

Eli Underwood said...

Yes he's an assistant coach for the Vikings.

The Biscuit said...

Great guy. Was a mentor to me in my youth... Congrats Coach Stonner! If I know you I know you read this blog. It's no wonder the Vikings D is playing out of their minds right now.

Free State Fan said...

Though the loss hurts and the finality of an incredible FS season is here, I can appreciate great football when I see it and West played great. Congrats to SMW on a well-deserved victory and shot at a state championship. You earned it. FS made some costly mistakes, both penalties and plays, and SMW did what great teams do and made us pay for them. They took full advantage and seized control of the game early and didn't let go.

Message to Hutch: You better bring your A++ game. SMW flat out beat a very solid FS team handily and if they can duplicate their effort from this game, they will carry the state trophy home. This Free State Fan will be cheering for the Vikings to win next week.

VikingStudent said...

Ad yes he does read the blog, I know that for a fact. Told you guys Maloney wasn't the only receiver!!

VikingStudent said...

The west players said they weren't nervous at all when free state scored on that first drive, they said they thought they wore down the free state offense

LAW'04 said...

well congrats to SMW for showing up, i'm not sure where FS was...

Govannon Grey said...

I'll be in the Capital cheering on the ol' Vikings. I really don't want Hutch to win, but they have that tough mentality that they just refuse to lose big games. I think Topeka and Derby were the more talented teams, but Hutch has that confidence/swagger whatever you want to call it that is so huge with HS students in these situations.

TheImpaler said...

I just don't see Hutch as the favorite in this game. I know West is higher in the prep power index. This is not your 2006 Hutch team. They blew an 18 point 4th Quarter lead to a mediocre Rockhurst team and lost to a Saline South team that did not get to state in 5A. Also I think this West defense is very nearly as good as 2006 and the offense is, if not more talented, at least much more diverse and harder to defend. I say Vikes -3.5.

Eli Underwood said...

I think Hutch would/will be the favorite against any team in the state until someone proves they can stop the Salthawks in the title game. Since 2004, Hutch has won seven of a possible eight state titles (in both class 5A and 6A) with their lone blemish coming in 2010 when they lost to Bishop Carroll in Sub-State.

Looking back, the only team to have ever defeated Hutch in the title game was Olathe North in 2003 (proverbial passing of the torch kind of thing from the sounds of it). The funny thing was that Hutch looked like the better team on paper that year, but Olathe North just had the moxy to win the game.

Hutch's record since 2003 is 118-12 and they're 7/8 in state title games. Calling them anything but the favorite to win the game, in my opinion, is underestimating how consistent they are season after season.

That being said, I think the underdog card will serve SM West well in this game. Callaghan will be facing a Hutch team that he's seen once (in 2006) and while it's been six years, I guarantee you he has a better understanding and gameplan of how to attack Hutch going into Saturday. Not saying the results will be different than 2006, but I think there is an elevated comfort level of what to expect.

For instance... I remember watching film of the 2006 title game the day after the title with Matt Crow (starting C and DT) and Corey Maher (starting DE and OT) and those guys were just laughing at what was going on, because Hutch was so blatantly approaching a particular formation that it was almost comical. Nothing sophisticated--the way we had gameplanned from them--and had West picked up on this midgame call could have been made which would have totally worked on Hutch (again, I won't say what it was but you get the point). It was comical because no team in the Sunflower League used the approach--because it seemed like such an easy way to get burned--that it hadn't really been gameplanned for. And I'm not so certain Hutch didn't pull out that method that week either, just for the game...

Anyways, IMO, Hutch should be the favorite regardless of whether or not they have two losses this season. But I honestly think SM West is better off going into this game with a chip on their shoulder.

VikingStudent said...

What are sterbachs chances at Simone when he breaks 2k. Warmack is the front runner I suppose

TheImpaler said...

Is there any way to buy tickets in advance? I assume they're not being sold through WU athletics.

VikingStudent said...

Pretty sure only at the schools.