2020 KSHSAA Sub-State Football Holton @ Perry-Lecompton
Trailing 8-3 at halftime at Perry-Lecompton’s football field, the Holton Wildcats fought hard but came up short 22-9 in their Class 3A sub-state playoff game.
The victory earned the Kaws (now 11-1) their second straight trip to the 3A state championship game.
Holton finished with a 9-2 record.
“We had a lot of adversity throughout the week and I thought the kids handled it pretty well,’’ said Holton head coach Brooks Barta afterwards. “However, we have a plan for the week, lose several key players and have to alter the plan. Then on Thursday, we get some players back and have to try to adjust again. Unfortunately, the changes limited our time to add some wrinkles to our game. We probably needed a couple more things to happen for us.’’
Coach Barta was referencing the fact that three of the Holton team’s key players missed almost the entire week of practice leading up to the game Friday, due to quarantining, due to COVID-19.
“If you would have told me we would make them throw the ball 20 times in the game, I would have been very happy,’’ Barta said. “We really took away their run game and they executed their passing game better than we had seen them execute over the last few weeks.’’
Barta said the Wildcats certainly had their chances to win.
“I thought we played pretty good football and had our chances. After watching the game, I thought we had a real chance to win the game. It really came down to about four plays where we had a chance to make plays and Perry made the play instead.’’
“Perry is a very mature and talented football team,’’ the coach said. “They really made no mistakes on either side of the ball and that gave us an open door to taking advantage of situation.’’
Barta said it was a great season, despite the loss.
“Our goal is always to maximize the potential of our team. Our leadership and effort this season really made that possible. We were good enough to play in a championship, but it is a fine line between making enough plays to get there,’’ Barta said. “It has been a very stressful season that was filled with adversity. I am so glad our kids had a chance to go through and learn from the process. I know our community is proud of their performance on and off of the field.’’
The Holton-Perry-Lecompton game started off 0-0 after one quarter of play.
The Kaws kicked to the Wildcats to start the game and after three plays that gained five yards, the Wildcats were forced to punt.
Holton junior Jake Zeller got off a 36-yard punt that was fair-caught at the Kaws’ 34-yard line.
The Kaws had about the same success moving the football, plus they were called for offsides. A third and nine pass from senior Thad Metcalfe to senior Parker Stone picked up seven yards but it was not enough for a first down, so the Kaws punted.
Holton sophomore Lierz fielded the punt at the Holton 20-yard line and advanced the football six yards, but a clipping penalty against Holton backed the Wildcats up to their own 13.
The Wildcats failed to gain 10 yards on their second offensive possession, also and on fourth and seven, Zeller punted again, this time for 38 yards and no return.
The Kaws picked up the first, first down of the game on an eight-yard pass from Metcalfe to Stone with 4:35 left in the first quarter.
On the next play, Metcalfe tried to pass again but had the pass batted down by Holton senior Canon Karn. Metcalfe tried to pass on the next down but could not find an open receiver and the pass was incomplete.
On third and 10, Williams caught a short pass but had no gain as he was tackled by junior Slater Skaggs and Lierz. At the 3:20 mark, the Kaws were forced again and this time the punt rolled to the Holton four-yard line, 36 yards, putting the Wildcats 96 yards from the end zone they wanted to find.
Holton picked up their first, first down of the game at the 3:00 mark after Karn rushed for five and senior Addison Hundley rushed for six to the 15.
An eight-yard run by Holton senior Konnor Tannahill was followed by a four-yard run on the option by Karn to give Holton another first down. Tannahill then picked up another first down on his own and at the end of the first quarter the game was tied 0-0 with Holton netting 45 yards in the first quarter and Perry-Lecompton 28.
Early in the second quarter, it looked like the Holton offense was finding its rhythm as Karn picked up 24 yards breaking two tackles on one run for a first down and Tannahill and Hundley also helping the Wildcats move the chains forward.
Five plays later, the Wildcats had the ball at Perry-Lecompton’s 11-yard line. A holding penalty on the Wildcats, however, made them settle for a 24-yard field goal by Lierz, for the first points of the game. With 7:18 left in the second quarter, Holton led Perry-Lecompton 3-0. The Holton scoring drive went 90 yards on 16 plays.
Taking the ensuing kick-off, Kaws running back junior Reichen Rush went nowhere due to a quick tackle by Holton sophomore Charlie Gilliland at the Perry-Lecompton 23.
On first down, the Kaws passed to Stone for 12 yards and a first down. Three plays later, Stone caught another pass for 15 yards and another first down.
Perry-Lecompton senior Hunter Hess also caught a pass for 14 yards and a first down on this drive. When Hess took the football for an end-around run, however, Holton sophomore Jace Boswell dropped him for a six-yard loss.
Four plays later, with 2:13 left in the second quarter, Metcalfe passed to Stone for a 27-yard touchdown pass to cap a 10-play, 66-yard drive. For the two-point conversion, Metcalfe passed to senior Dawson Williams, which gave the Kaws an 8-3 lead.
The Wildcats received the kick-off from the Kaws with 1:44 left in the first half. They were able to pick up two first downs and move the football to their 36-yard line before the second quarter ended. At halftime, it was 8-3 in favor of the Kaws but still either team’s game to win.
A key statistic for the first half was the nine of 12 success the Kaws had passing for a total of 92 yards.
Holton kicked to Perry-Lecompton to start the second half and the Kaws returned to the passing game, completing a 17-yard pass to Williams and a 13-yard pass to junior Jackson Payne to the Holton 32.
A four-yard run by Metcalfe was followed by a 10-yard pass reception to Stone, giving the Kaws a first down at the Holton 18.
The Kaws only gained six yards on their next three plays, but went for it on fourth down. Metcalfe completed a four-yard TD pass after that, but an illegal forward pass on the Kaws took those six points off the scoreboard as Metcalfe didn’t pass the football until he had crossed the line of scrimmage. The penalty also included a loss of a down, so Holton held and took over possession of the football at their own 12-yard line with 7:57 left in the third quarter.
Holton’s Karn picked up eight yards on a first down run but two plays later Holton found itself in a fourth down and one-yard to go situation at their own 25. The Wildcats went for it and the Kaws prevented them from picking up the first down.
Three plays later, the Kaws scored on a four-yard TD run by Metcalfe and Payne ran in the two-point conversion to put Perry-Lecompton ahead 16-3 with 5:40 left in the third quarter.
Lierz returned the ensuing kick off 12 yards to the Holton 27 and on first down Lierz took the football on a reverse and then passed downfield to junior Reese Holaday for a 29-yard gain.
After that, however, the Wildcat drive stalled and the Wildcats were forced to punt again, pinning the Kaws down at their own 10.
The Kaws picked up two more first downs as the third quarter clock wound down. One of the first downs came on a 21-yard pass completion to Rush. At the end of the three quarters, the score was 16-3, still plenty of time for the Wildcats to regain the lead.
Two plays into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats got the turnover they were looking for when Metcalfe fumbled at Holton’s 32 and the Wildcats recovered.
After three plays of their own, however, the Wildcats faced a fourth down and one-yard to go situation. An option play failed to pick up the first down and wth 10:01 left in the game, the Kaws took over possession of the ball in Holton territory.
The Kaws went to work running the football and then passing it to Stone, picking up two first downs along the way until they were at the Wildcat 10.
A facemask penalty against Holton set up the Kaws on the Wildcat five. Metcalfe then rushed for three yards and then scored a touchdown from two yards out. A two-point conversion pass attempt was incomplete, leaving the score at 22-3 with 5:55 left in the game.
From there, the Wildcats put together a nine-play, 74-yard scoring drive with Karn scoring a TD on a four-yard run. The PAT was no good and with 2:59 left in the game, the score was 22-9. After that, the Kaws controlled the ball, ran out the game clock to secure the Class 3A sub-state championship and a qualified for the state championship game against Andale.