By Dean Backes
With the success of one goal line stand, Smith Center coach Roger Barta has watched his defense transform into one of the great defenses in Kansas high school history. He believes that the goal line stand during his team's 60-0 season opening win over Norton may be responsible for the swagger his defense wields today.
"They (Norton) completed a pass on us down there," Barta said. "I believe they had the ball first-and-goal at about the one yard line. They ran two quarterback sneaks that didn't go anywhere. The kids just got after it. I think the kids saw just how good they could be that night. It got the kids going."
When the smoke settled, Smith Center took over possession on its own five or six yard line, and went on to post the first of 10 straight shutouts. Barta's top line defenders were responsible for that stand. But his younger players have been in on the action, as well, and with the same result.
Phillipsburg some how managed to find its way to the Smith Center five yard line against Barta's second team players. Stuffed. Plainville forced its way inside the 10-yard line as well, but it was the young kids that shut down that drive during first round playoff action. Still others dented the 10 and 15-yard lines. Nothing.
"Our seniors are pretty aggressive," Barta said. "But our young kids are pretty decent as well. That's the key."
Although the string of shut outs is impressive, Barta's defense will have to remain on its toes the remainder of this season and into next season if it wants to climb higher into the national record books. Five teams are tied for seventh, according to nflhs.com, with 14 straight shutouts. With a berth in the championship game, the Redmen will play a 13-game schedule.
If Smith Center shuts out the remainder of its 2007 schedule, and the first five opponents next season, the Redmen will move into a tie for second place with 18 straight scoreless games. Shelbyville Bedford County Training (Tenn.) holds the record of 52 straight shutouts posted over eight seasons from 1942-1949.
Smith Center can move into a tie for second place in shutouts for a season by claiming its fourth straight state championship and posting zero's throughout the playoffs. That feat would catapult the Redmen into a three-way tie with Pittsburgh Perry (Pa.) and Grand Junction (Colo.), at 13.
As well as the defense has played; the offense may be even more dominant. In first round playoff action, the Redmen scored 72 points in the first quarter against Plainville to break the national record of 66 points in a quarter set in 1925. The Redmen went on to win that game 83-0.
The big scores have sometimes created a dilemma of another sort for Barta. How do you keep from running up the score? His starters haven't played a full first half this season.
"A lot of times I don't know what to do," Barta said in reference to the record-breaking year. "I had no concept that (Plainville) was a record. We were just playing and it got out of hand."
Six Plainville turnovers in the quarter spearheaded Smith Center's offense to the big numbers.
The lopsided wins have also limited the Redmen starters from playing a full 48 minutes.
"We needed a game that the kids could play and play a whole game," Barta said. "It's been one of those years. Things have gone pretty well."
Smith Center's 704 points in 10 games stands alone at the top of the charts, according to nflhs.com, in the points in a season category for 10 or fewer games. The Redmen need just 80 points in the games Smith Center has remaining on its schedule in order to climb into the top 10 nationally in points scored in a season regardless of how many games are played.
Despite his team's dominance, Barta believes the scoreless streak may come to an end in the playoffs. After all, the Redmen will be facing some pretty explosive offenses as they try to win another Class 2-1A state championship this month.
Friday's contest at Oakley (11-0) could be the first such challenge. The Plainsmen have a strong running game that chews up yards and the clock while putting nearly 40 points on the board per night.
Both teams will try to establish the running game. Smith Center runs out of a double tight end wishbone set.
"Neither team throws very much," Barta said of the match up between Smith Center and Oakley. "They run, run, run and then they throw the ball and hurt you with a big play."
Top Rushing Performances
Daniel Capul rushed for 230 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns for Garden Plain in a 42-0 win over Hesston.Wichita Southeast's Joseph Randle ran the ball 23 times for 197 yards and a pair of scores and Trezz Tillman carried the ball 18 times for 190 yards and three scores in a 42-34 win over Emporia.Cameron Horesky rushed 27 times for 247 yards and a pair of scores for Hoisington in a 45-35 victory over Salina Sacred Heart.Sacred Heart's Aaron Wedel carried the ball just seven times, but managed 232 yards and a touchdown in a 45-35 loss to Hoisington.Jake Davidson rushed 18 times for 231 yards and five touchdowns for South Haven in a 42-22 win over Tescott.Louisburg's Jason Spradling ran 30 times for 210 yards and three scores in a 34-27 win over Pittsburg.
Top Passing Performances
Garrett Gould connected on 18 of 35 passes for 241 yards and a score for Maize in a 41-13 loss to Hutchinson.Hillsboro's Spencer Brown completed 16 of 26 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-26 loss to Conway Springs.Conner Martin connected on 18 of 42 aerials for 305 yards for Sacred Heart in a 45-35 loss to Hoisington.Mulvane's Jordan Gosch connected on 12 of 20 passes for 303 yards and a pair of scores in a 30-27 win over Wamego.Ben Malotte connected on 19 of 40 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown for Marysville in a 28-7 loss to Baldwin.Blue Valley West's Mike Besler completed 10 of 11 passes for 249 yards and six touchdowns in a 70-6 win over Sumner Academy.Nathan White connected on 11 of 20 aerials for 223 yards and three scores for Quivira Heights in a 28-10 win over Victoria.
Top Receiving Performances
Ethan Ungles caught six passes for 129 yards for Andale in a 47-27 win over Buhler.Maize's Brett Soft caught a dozen passes for 164 yards in a 41-13 loss to Hutchinson.Justin McCay latched on to four aerials for 167 yards and an 84 yards touchdown for Bishop Miege in a 27-21 come-from-behind win over Shawnee Heights.Blue Valley West's Aaron Ashley caught four balls for 174 yards and three scores in a 70-6 win Over Sumner Academy.Kris Gorman latched on to five passes for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Quivira Heights in a 28-10 win over Victoria.Great Bend's Brett Holt caught seven balls for 130 yards and a pair of scores in a 38-14 win over Topeka Seaman.Tyler Springer latched on to four passes for 127 yards and a score for Mulvane in a 30-27 win over Wamego.Columbus' Tyler Fleming caught nine passes 107 yards and a pair of scores in a 41-27 win over Fort Scott.Gavin Johnson grabbed three passes for 104 yards and a touchdown in a 28-7 loss to Baldwin.
Girls Gymnastics: West Rebounds for State Title
Despite having reconstructive surgery on her right ankle following her sophomore season, Lawrence senior Mallory West was able to win her third all-around state title in four years with a score of 37.050 in Hutchinson last weekend.
After winning all-around titles following her freshman and sophomore seasons, West's right ankle began to show signs of wear and tear from years of gymnastics. She spent most of her junior year rehabbing before earning sixth place in the all-around at the state meet.
"It's been a long road back from surgery," West told the Kansas City Star. "I'm feeling great. It makes every moment of physical therapy worth it."