Bluejays flying high
The home team continues to dominate the Norton-Smith Center football series.
The Bluejays sent the vast majority of the Travis Field crowd home happy, thanks to a 32-0 whitewash of the Redmen. It’s the sixth consecutive year the team wearing the dark jerseys has won in the Mid-Continent League series.
Norton is now 4-0 and has outscored its opposition this season 147-13. The only game which was in doubt at halftime was the second contest vs. Phillipsburg, which the Bluejays led only 6-0 at the break, only to blow it open in the second half for a 34-7 decision.
Smith Center, now 3-1, didn’t help its own cause turning it over five times, giving it eight in the past two games. Three of those turnovers were interceptions by Norton’s Deon Lyle, who made his last pick near the goal line in the fourth quarter, snuffing out the Redmen’s best scoring opportunity.
Lyle also scored the game’s first touchdown on a 37-yard hookup with Jace Ruder. Lyle just ran a fly pattern down the left sideline and easily beat Smith Center’s Thayne Benoit.
The only bad news for the Bluejays is Ruder exited the game in the second quarter and did not return. He did not emerge from the locker room in the second half, leading to speculation by myself and Norton Telegram sportswriter Dick Boyd he may have been taken to the hospital for x-rays. I hope he’s not hurt too badly, because Norton is in line for a very special season, and losing Ruder for an extended period could negatively affect the Bluejays.
Norton put the game away in the final minute of the first half. Jordan Dole, last year’s starting quarterback who had moved to running back to accommodate Ruder, returned to his old position after Ruder’s injury. WIth 23 seconds to go in the half and the Bluejays at the Smith Center 49-yard line, Dole took a snap from the shotgun, kept around right end, and broke several attempted tackles by the Redmen to score the backbreaking touchdown. The Bluejays led 19-0 at halftime, and Smith Center’s offense wasn’t doing enough to demonstrate it could score three times.
As bad as the final score was, it might have been worse. Ruder was intercepted in the end zone on Norton’s first drive, and in the second quarter, fullback Jared Tallent fumbled into the end zone from the 2, and the Redmen recovered for a touchback.
Smith Center also had to change quarterbacks in the fourth quarter. Starter L.T. Meitler moved from under center to left halfback when regular left half Brody Frieling was injured and could not continue. Benoit took over at quarterback and threw the last interception to Lyle.
The good news for the Redmen is nobody left on their regular season schedule will be tougher than Norton. They have to forget about Norton quickly, because they open district play next week at home vs. Republic County.
Norton, meanwhile, travels to Plainville, which won its first game tonight over TMP-Marian 12-7.
The trip to Norton was wonderful. Got to see a lot of great people I hadn’t in awhile from Norton: Peggy Cox, Doug Ray, Jason Jones, Kevin Jilka, Dale Engelbert, Fig Millan, superintendent Greg Mann, principal Rudy Perez, athletic director Dustin McEwen, and of course, Mr. Boyd, who like me is a past recipient of the KSHSAA’s Oscar Stauffer Award as outstanding sportswriter. He should have won it long before I did, but he had to wait until years AFTER I did.
Tomorrow I’m back at volleyball in Hoisington, watching Phillipsburg and Smith Center in the eighth Cardinal Classic.