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Gone before sunrise

It’s almost time for me to leave the abode on North Brooks Street and head back to Smith Center for day two of the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament. Each team will play two more pool matches before the top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals.

Two-time defending league champion Smith Center and Stockton are 2-0 in pool A, while Plainville and TMP-Marian are 2-0 in Pool B. The four undefeated teams will pair off in pool play today.

Smith Center lost its second consecutive football game last night, as LaCrosse took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 48-14 victory. The Leopards scored on each of their first two possessions, then tallied again in the final minute of the opening period on Andrew Jay’s 65-yard interception return. The Redmen twice got to within 14 in the second quarter on touchdowns from Cale Rogers (7 yard run) and Kody Zabel (11 yard pass from Thayne Benoit), but never any closer.

LaCrosse rushed for 408 yards, with 164 from quarterback Jack Garcia and 150 more from Jay. The Leopards gained 508 yards against a Smith Center defense which allowed 64 last week to Ell-Saline and 82 two weeks prior to Republic County.

The Leopards had been lying in wait for this game, even though it wasn’t a district game and has no bearing on playoff berths. LaCrosse lost playoff games to Smith Center n 2006 and 2008, the latter at home, and the Leopards made sure they enjoyed every minute of the victory. The final score would have been worse had not a 76-yard touchdown run by Jay in the fourth not been called back by a holding penalty well downfield

LaCrosse is basically in the playoffs anyway. The Leopards are 2-0 in their district and have 1-6 Wichita County next week before closing with Oakley. .

Smith Center was limited to 169 yards. No back gained more than 41.

This is the latest in a season Smith Center has lost back-to-back games since 2002, when it lost all three district games to Norton, Phillipsburg and Beloit to finish 4-5, the last time the Redmen missed the playoffs. If the Redmen are to avoid missing the 2014 postseason, they will have to beat Bennington next week at home and Phillipsburg on the road Oct. 30.

No other surprises last night. Norton 60, Russell 14; Phillipsburg 54, Republic County 6; Plainville 51, Wichita County 7; Osborne 52, St. Francis 6; Hill City 51, Stockton 34; and Victoria 58, Thunder Ridge 34.

Okay enough dilly dallying. Time to get going north.

Going south

Volleyball went pretty much as expected yesterday. Three of the top four seeds in the Mid-Continent League tournament–#1 Smith Center, #3 Plainville and #4 Stockton–each went 2-0. The fourth 2-0 team after yesterday is #5 seed TMP-Marian, which ousted #2 seed Ellis in yesterday’s only three-set match.

It’s a day off from volleyball because football is taking center stage. I’m on my way to LaCrosse. where Smith Center faces the host Leopards. It is not a district game, but the Redmen will be aiming to get back on track after last week’s one-point loss at Ell-Saline. LaCrosse is 5-1, with its lone loss coming in week four to Southeast of Saline.

Smith Center won two playoff games over LaCrosse in a three-year stretch several years ago. The Redmen won 46-0 at home in 2006, then two years later came to LaCrosse and won 32-14. Both games were in the Class 2-1A quaterfinals, and in both years, Smith Center went on to win state championships. The latter game was featured prominently in Joe Drape’s book Our Boys, the book about the Redmen’s 2008 season.

I originally was going to stay home and do Russell’s game vs. Norton, but I don’t care for homecoming. Not at all. I’ll gladly make the 53-mile drive instead.