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Brookville boo-boo

It rained off and on all the way from Kansas City to Brookville yesterday. It would not stop raining in Brookville until late in the second quarter. This made for an interesting night.

I had a rain cover for my camera, and I would have used it, but I could not get my flash over the rain cover, so I ditched the cover. It wasn’t raining that hard.

The bigger problem was my game notes. I always pride myself on being able to keep a running play-by-play of the game even though I’m taking pictures. I’ll take the play-by-play I write down on the sideline and feed it to The Automated Scorebook on my computer, and it will spit the stats out immediately. I would operate TAS live from the press box when I worked for The Advocate, and that saved me so much time, since I didn’t have to sit there and manually add up statistics. I could just print out the stats and play-by-play, write the story, file it, and be done 15-20 minutes following the game.

My first quarter play-by-play from last night almost didn’t make it. It was quite soggy. The second quarter was a struggle, too, but it was because the paper was wet. Fortunately, the rain abated, and the second half was much easier.

I was also glad I brought two jackets. My parka was soaked after the first half, and I changed to my Milwaukee Brewers dugout jacket for the final 24 minutes. Not as warm, but I had two layers over my turtleneck anyway.

Last night’s Smith Center-Ell Saline football game proved two things:

  1. Mother Nature is often a great equalizer.
  2. Special teams matter.

Both points were proven early. A fine punt by Smith Center’s Kody Zabel and excellent coverage by the Redmen following the game’s first offensive possession left the Cardinals marooned inside their own 10-yard line. Two plays later, Ell-Saline quarterback Luiz Antonio Arceo could not handle the muddy football following a low snap, and the Redmen had the ball at the 4.

Nick Lehmkuhl scored two plays later, and just like that, it was Smith Center 7, Ell-Saline 0, and the game wasn’t four minutes old.

Smith Center looked poised to add to its lead when it used a lengthy drive to reach the Ell-Saline 5, but on fourth down, a low snap to Thayne Benoit did not allow the play to come off, and the Cardinals took over on downs. The first half ended with the same 7-0 score.

It took all of 20 seconds of the second half for the score to change.

Arceo fielded the second half kickoff near the left sideline. He found a wall of red shirts and followed them to the middle of the field, and reached the Redmen 3. One play later, he scored on a keeper around the right side. The conversion failed, but it was a new game at 7-6.

The Redmen looked like they would strike right back when Kaden Meitler returned the next kickoff to the Ell-Saline 14, but that drive came up empty when the Cardinals held on downs with a fourth-and-two at the 6. The Smith Center defense held, and following Arceo’s punt, the visitors had the ball at the Ell-Saline 22.

Guess what? No points. Despite first down from the 12, Smith Center couldn’t pick up the first down from there, and then Zabel missed a 22-yard field goal attempt.

The next Smith Center drive did result in points. For the wrong team.

The Redmen again penetrated the red zone, but with the ball at the 18, Meitler fumbled on a run around left end. Ell-Saline linebacker Luke Sheridan spotted the loose ball and picked it up, and began running the other way. Benoit was in position to make the tackle inside the Smith Center 20, but a good block downfield allowed Sheridan to complete an 80-yard touchdown jaunt. Arceo this time was successful on the conversion, which proved to be critical. Ell-Saline led 14-7 at the end of the quarter, although Smith Cneter was driving.

Six plays into the final period, Benoit spotted Zabel open over the middle. His pass got over the outstretched hand of Cody Walters, and after making the catch, Zabel rumbled into the end zone from 34 yards out. Now, if Zabel could convert the extra point, it would be deadlocked with 9:26 to go, and overtime would be a real possibility for the second time in three seasons between the schools.

Except that Zabel missed. There was still 9:26 to go, but the Cardinals still had the lead.

That 14-13 score did not change. Smith Center never got close to scoring again, and its final play was a Benoit pass which was intercepted by Noah Bradley. Despite gaining 64 net yards and picking up just five first downs, going 0-for-8 on 3rd down conversions and losing the time of possession battle by nine minutes, the Cardinals prevailed, winning for the first time in three games vs. Smith Center. The Redmen won 43-8 at Brookville last year and 20-18 in overtime at Smith Center in 2012. In the 2012 game, the Cardinals missed their conversion in overtime after having the ball first; the Redmen scored and Payton Buckmaster ran in the conversion to win.

The Redmen saw their 33-game winning streak in district games ended. They had not lost a disirict game since October 2003 to Norton at home.

More importantly, Smith Center’s string of 11 consecutive state playoff appearances is in trouble. Not only must the Redmen hope the Cardinals lose at least one district game out of three, they must also defeat Bennington and Phillipsburg in the final two weeks. The best hope would be to hope Phillipsburg wins against Republic County and Ell-Saline, and then Smith Center beats the Panthers in the regular season finale Oct. 30 to force a three-way tie. Since Smith Center lost to Ell-Saline by only one point, the Redmen would need to beat Phillipsburg by two to finish among the top two in a three-way tiebreaker. If Ell-Saline beats Phillipsburg, of course, the winner of the Redmen-Panthers game would finish second behind the Brookville boys.

Following the game, I listened to the Royals-Orioles game. Incredibly, Kansas City got TWO MORE home runs in extra innings to win a postseason game. Alex Gordon led off the 10th with a solo shot, and Mike Moustakas added a two-run clout to put the Royals up 8-5. The Orioles scored once in the bottom of the 10th, but Greg Holland shut the door, allowing the Royals to prevail 8-6 and take a 1-0 lead in the American League Championship Series.

It was midnight when I got off I-435 at Missouri Highway 152, so I decided to go to Buffalo Wild Wings and see who was there. Liz was, and of course she had a big smile when she saw me. Both Morgans, Gilliand (who’s six-plus months pregnant) and Tomec, were there, as was Alexandra Mullinax. Since I was staying only three miles away at the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs, I stayed until a little after 1 before leaving.

Today is going to be hell for the crew at Buffalo Wild Wings. Missouri plays Georgia at 11, the Royals play at 3. LSU plays at 6:30, but who cares?

Circuitous route to victory

Last night’s game in Smith Center was pretty much what was expected.

At least for the first quarter.

After that, it was one of those games where truth was sometimes stranger than fiction.

Smith Center ended up defeating Republic County 24-6, winning its 39th consecutive district game and putting the spectre of the 32-0 loss to Norton the previous week in the past for good. The game was hardly artistic, however, and the Redmen still have a lot to work on as they head into the second half of the regular season, and they hope another trip to the state playoffs.

It didn’t start well for the Buffaloes. Their returner let the opening kickoff go thorugh his hands, and by time he picked up, he was only able to make it back to the 10. They went three-and-out, and a short put left the Redmen at the Republic County 35.

Smith Center did what it was supposed to do, driving to the touchdown, a 1-yard plunge by Kaden Meitler. He gained 136 yards on 28 attempts, filling the voids left by the injuries of starting quarterback L.T. Meitler and left halfback Brody Frieling, both of whom were hurt at Norton. Thayne Benoit, who played quarterback in the fourth quarter of the Norton game, started at quarterback, while David Hileman took Frieling’s starting spot at halfback.

The Buffaloes were forced three-and-out again on their second drive, and Smith Center drove 61 yards following the punt to another touchdown. It was textbook Redmen, running the ball on all 11 plays, ending with a 5-yard touchdown run by Nick Lehmkuhl.

Republic County gained only four yards on its first two possessions. It gained three on the final play of the first quarter, and it picked up its initial first down on a fourth-and-inches quarterback sneak from its own 28. Normally, that’s a move akin to Russian Roulette, but hey, it was only a few inches, and the Buffaloes had lost the previous four meetings to the Redmen by a combined 219-30, why not?

The 14-0 score on the board would not change during the second quarter. The Redmen had a 15-play march which took up nearly half the second quarter, but it ended just inside the red zone. Smith Center’s next drive of the second quarter ended with an interception.

After gaining only 13 yards and one first down in the first 24 minutes, the Buffaloes gained life in the third when a punt went off Cody Carder’s leg and the Buffaloes recovered at the Redmen 41. They took advantage, as Tucker Allen swept right end and scored from 17 yards out to narrow the gap to 14-6 after the 2-point conversion failed. There ere still almost eight minutes to play in the third quarter, so if Republic County could somehow find a consistent offense to go with its stout defense, it might pull the shocker.

Smith Center finally broke its long scoreless drought with 9:45 to play when Kody Zabel booted home a 23-yard field goal. Republic County’s last chance to stay in the game ended when Trey Kuhlman fumbled an attempted option pitch and Benoit recovered

The Redmen did not score on their next drive, but they bled more time off the clock. Smith Center put the game out of reach on Hileman’s 14-yard touchdown sweep around right end with 3:15 to go.

The game got ugly late. Republic County coach Travis Johnson berated the officials when he came on the field in the fourth quarter to check on injured lineman Mikel Cottenmyre, who enjoyed an outstanding game on both sides of the ball. Cottenmyre penetrated Smith Center’s blocking on several plays to stop Redmen backs before they could get started, and he helped open holes for Allen on the other side.

When Johnson came on the field to help Cottenmyre with just under five minutes left, he bitterely complained about what he felt were chop blocks committed by Smith Center which were not being called. Chop blocks are illegal blocks wen one lineman has a defender engaged, and ten a second offensie player, usually a guard or the center, comes in and blocks the same player low. Those are dangerous and have caused many severe knee injuries. Johnson felt the same thing had happened to Cottenmyre, and he let the officials know. As he walked off, he dared the officials to penalize him for unsportsmanlike conduct, and they obliged. Republic County was penalized again for unsportsmanlike conduct after the final Smith Center touchdown.

Smith Center won. It didn’t look good sometimes. But it doesn’t matter. The Redmen are 1-0 where it counts most heading into their next game at Ell-Saline.

Third take

I am still a sleepy lad. I wanted to doze off so bad on the trip to Smith Center, and when I got to the stadium parking lot, I fell asleep in my car for a good 40 minutes.

Now it’s less than an hour to kickoff between Smith Center and Republic County. I’ve seen this before. Twice. And I don’t think the third time is going to be much different.

Okay, there are two differences between the games I witnessed between the two schools in 2011 and 2012 and this year’s game.

First, it’s earlier in the season. Smith Center and Republic County ended up playing its final regular season games against one another from 2010 through 2013. They were placed in the same district by the Kansas State HIgh School Activities Association for the 2014 and 2015 seasons last October, but since Phillipsburg moved into the district and moved down from 3A to 2-1A, it was agreed the Panthers and Redmen would face each other in the finale, since both are in the Mid-Continent League and only 30 miles apart.

Second, Republic County has a win on its record. The Buffaloes lost 33 consecutive games from week five of 2010 through the first week of this season, ending the long skein by defeating Russell 34-21 in week two. Unfortunately, the Buffaloes have reverted to form, losing 27-0 to Ellsworth and 70-6 to Beloit in the last two weeks.

Could it be worse than 55-8, 55-8, 45-14 and 64-0, the scores of the last four years? Maybe. Smith Center is seething after losing 32-0 at Norton a week ago. It’s homecoming for the Redmen. And since this is a district game, the Redmen know they can’t afford a slip-up against a team it is clearly superior to.

Ready for Friday’s grind

I’d like to know how I got back to Russell yesterday. If I had my druthers, I would have stayed another day in Kansas City and driven straight to Smith Center, but I forgot my parka and did not have any warm clothes for tonight’s game, so I had to go home.

I was dead tired all morning. Got the chills again and then could not get up. It was worse when I stood up, because there a couple of times I felt like I would fall down. It was awful, but then again, I’ve felt far, far worse. At least I could breathe without pain.

I finally mustered enough strength to pack the room and load my car right at noon. Problem was, it was pouring. Still. It started raining at midnight Wednesday, minutes after the Royals scored the winning run in the American League wild card game vs. Oakland. It rained most of Wednesday and continued into Thursday.

It was pouring all the way from the Courtyard Briarcliff to the tollbooth at the Kansas Turnpike seven miles west of Bonner Springs. The rain began to let up from there, but it would not totally stop until I got out of Shawnee County.

I apologize for the gap yesterday. When I got home at 4, I fell asleep right away. Didn’t get up until just before 8, when I turned on the Royals-Angels game.

I tried putting some food other than crackers in my stomach on the drive back to Russell. Bad idea. I had two slices of pizza from the Hy-Vee gas station in Topeka after I filled up, and then a Big Mac in Salina. Ouch. It wasn’t until I took Alka-Seltzer did it go away.

Now it’s time for me to go to Smith Center, where the Redmen figure to be in a nasty mood tonight. The game vs. Republic County would be no contest in any situation, but it may get very ugly this time because Smith Center is seething after losing at Norton, and rather easily at that.

This weather just doesn’t give up. After back-to-back weeks where kickoff temperatures were north of 80 and I was in shorts, I’m back to full winter gear tonight. Warm socks, turtleneck, one or two more layers under my parka, and of course, my camouflage hood. I’ll look pretty dorky.

No Buffalo Wild Wings Sunday for sure. Not going to fight crowds for NASCAR at noon, Chiefs at 3:25 and Royals at 6:30. Saturday? Probably not. Monday? More likely.

Early action

I had a scare a few minutes ago when my computer rebooted randomly. It has done so from time to time, and there was a period where it was happening more frequently. I’m guessing this time it was because the computer was overheated.

I’m getting some laundry done this morning before I head off to Hoisington for the Cardinal Classic volleyball tournament. Matches start at 9, but I don’t have to be there right at the start because Smith Center and Phillipsburg don’t play in either of the first two matches.

I compiled the stats from the Smith Center-Norton football game in the wee hours, and the numbers bear out the Bluejays’ dominance. The Redmen were limited to 113 yards rushing, averaging 2.8 yards per carry on 41 attempts. Norton, meanwhile, netted exactly 300 yards on the ground. and averaged an even six yards per carry on 50 attempts. Norton’s Jordan Dole nearly outgained the Redmen on the ground by himself, finishing with 107 yards.

The last five Norton-Smith Center games have been decided by an average margin of 26.6 points, an average score of 40-13. It was the first shutout in the series since the Redmen’s 60-0 stampede in the 2007 season opener, the game which sent Smith Center on its record setting rampage in which it outscored its foes 844-20.

I’m going to miss a lot of college football today because of volleyball, but it isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. I will be home in time to watch LSU pulverize New Mexico State beginning at 6:30. If I’m going to Kansas City tomorrow, I guess I’ll have to hit the hay early in order to get out of Russell by 7 a.m.

Okay, time to put my laundry in the dryer so I can hop in the shower. No time to dawdle.

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.

Time to get going

I’ve got to get in gear now. I have less than two hours than my scheduled departure time for Norton and tonight’s game. I was hoping to make a few stops in Hays to get food and drinks for after tonight’s contest, but if I dally around, that won’t be possible.

At least I’m now dressed to go. That took too long this morning as well. I’ve got to start going to bed at a decent hour.

That won’t be an issue tonight. I won’t be home until after 11:30 due to the long trip. And I have to turn right around and go to Hoisington for its volleyball tournament tomorrow morning at 9. Phillipsburg and Smith Center are involved, and i just found out they won’t play until 10, so I have a little more time to get down there, although it’s only 30-35 minutes.

I”m expecting Norton to emerge from tonight’s game still undefeated. Smith Center is a good team, but I don’t think the Redmen have enough to keep up with the many weapons the Bluejays can throw at a team. The game should be closer than any of Norton’s first three, but I would be surprised if Smith Center can emerge with this one. Then again, Smith Center has defied the odds before.

Redmen survive

Yes, Smith Center improved to 3-0 last night. No, it was not easy. Far from it.

The outcome at Hubbard Stadium was in doubt until Brody Frieling called for a fair catch on Gavin Schumacher’s kickoff with 51 seconds remaining, allowing the Redmen to run out the clock and seal a 30-22 victory against the stubborn TMP-Marian Monarchs.

Smith Center scored three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull it out. It scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 3-yard run by L.T. Meitler with 8:11 to go, and scored again 61 seconds later on a 3-yard run by Nick Lehmkuhl which followed a snap over the head of TMP punter Cameron Fouts, which Kody Zabel recovered at the Monarch 3. Smith Center added an insurance touchdown with under three minutes left.

One week after being the beneficiary of seven turnovers in a victory over Oakley, Smith Center turned the ball over three times itself. The Redmen fumbled on their first possession, and the game would remain scoreless until Zabel hit a 35-yard field goal with 5:19 to go in the first half.

Each team would score a touchdown on its next possession. The Monarchs used two long passes to drive to the Redmen 1, and from there, Nick Schmidt punched it in to put the visitors from Hays ahead 7-3. Smith Center came right back and drove 67 yards to a 3-yard score by Nick Lehmkuhl with six seconds to go before halftime, sending the Redmen to the dressing room with a three-point edge.

The Redmen looked like they might gain a more comfortable lead on their first drive of the second half, reaching the Monarch 11, but a fumble ended the march. TMP gleefully accepted the gift, driving 87 yards to another touchdown, taking a 14-10 lead which it held when the period ended.

Smith Center now faces a much stiffer test when it plays undefeated Norton on the road this week.

Statistics lie again

Oakley gained 445 yards vs. Smith Center tonight, 335 of those on the ground. The Plainsmen held the ball for 27 minutes, 16 seconds, racked up 19 first downs, and averaged 8.1 yards per play.

Meanwhile, the Redmen had only 10 first downs and a pedestrian 257 yards.

Yet the final score read Smith Center 35, Oakley 8.

Seven turnovers, three inside the red zone, will do that to you. Oakley learned that the hard way.

The Plainsmen fumbled three times inside the Smith Center 20-yard line in the second half. The first of those came at the Redmen 2 as it looked like Oakley was going to score its first touchdown and make a game of it. Instead, two plays later, Nick Lehmkuhl galloped 91 yards the other way for a Smith Center touchdown, and it was 28-0. Cue the fat lady.

Time for me to go back to Russell. I’ll get back on the blog then. So long for now.

Friday morning ramblings

No, I was not up at 2:01 a.m. when Verizon began taking orders for the new Apple iPhone models. I was so tired when I got back from Buffalo Wild Wings I was out about 15 minutes later. Good decision, because when I finally got up at 5:30, I was quickly in the shower and dressed.

The traffic heading south from Platte County to Overland Park was easy. I figured an easier way by getting off US 69 at 95th Street, so I did not have to U-turn across Metcalf. I was in line at 7 a.m., and now my car is getting its new tires. By getting here so early, I don’t have to sweat it. If I’m out of here by 11 a.m., I’ll be to Smith Center in plenty of time, no matter if I take US 36 all the way across or I take I-70 to Salina, cut north at Belleville, and then across. Going back to Russell is not an option, at least not right now.

I don’t think Smith Center and Oakley have played a regular season football game, which stands to reason, since the Plainsmen were in the Northwest Kansas League forever until coming to the Mid-Continent League this season for football, last season for everything else. Oakley has played Norton quite a bit, since the Bluejays were in the NWKL before coming to the MCL with Smith Center in 1977. I have also recalled the Plainsmen playing Phillipsburg and Plainville in regular season games in recent years, and they have been in districts with Ellis and Trego.

Oakley was put in a bad position when the NWKL schools began to rapidly depopulate. Oakley was the largest member of the NWKL beginning in the fall of 2010, when Colby and Goodland left to form the Great West Activities Conference with Holcomb, Hugoton, Scott City and Ulysses. Quinter went 8-man in 2008, Hoxie went in 2010, and it was only a matter of time before the same happened at Atwood and Saint Francis. It figured there would come a day when only Oakley and Oberlin were left among the 11-man ranks.

The NWKL used to be a powerhouse league. Scott City was in the league until 1996, and they had a dynasty in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Atwood used to be one of the best in 2-1A year in and year out. Goodland had some fine teams in 4A. Oakley was a consistent winner in 3A, and then 2-1A. And once Tim Lambert, the starting quarterback on Smith Center’s 1986 state championship team, took over at St. Francis, the Indians soon zoomed to the top of the league. In fact, Sainty lost four consecutive seasons (2004 through 2007) to Smith Center in the playoffs, highlighted by a neanderthal 6-2 battle in 2006.

When it became apparent Colby and Goodland were twice as big as any other school in the league, the other members politely asked those two to move on. They did, and the result is a league which stretches almost from Nebraska to Oklahoma north to south, and all of the travel is along two-lane highways.

In 2012, after Atwood went 8-man, the NWKL added 8-man schools Sharon Springs, Dighton and Greeley County (Tribune), plus 11-man school Leoti.

It was too late for Oakley, which in January 2012 was voted into the MCL by a 7-2 count, with Osborne and Trego dissenting. Not long thereafter, the Bulldogs and Golden Eagles both left the MCL, but Trego would soon return. The Plainsmen would play in the 2013-14 MCL volleyball and basketball tournaments, and would participate in the league golf and track and field meets, but could not play a full football schedule, or a round robin basketball schedule, until this school year.

TMP-Marian was placed in the MCL by the Kansas State High School Activities Association in June 2012, effective July 1, 2014. Trego’s return brought the MCL back to 10 for the first time since Victoria departed at the end of the 2004-05 school year.

The MCL was the first, and to date only, league to win three state football championships in the same sesason. It was 1985, when Norton won 4A, Plainville claimed 3A, and Victoria triumphed in 2-1A. The next year, Norton repeated in 4A, and Smith Center won 3A. From 1983 through 1987, six different MCL schools won state championships.

I have written about the Mid-Continent League since coming to Kansas in September 2005. I have worried about the league breaking up, which would really be hard for the three schools along US 36–Norton, Phillipsburg and Smith Center–since all are in a sort of no-man’s land, and all are very good in most sports. Norton and Phillipsburg are too big for some of the other area leagues. They were invited to the GWAC, but Norton superintendent Greg Mann had it right when he said no thank you. He wasn’t about to make his students travel three to four hours on a Tuesday night for a basketball game.

I have suggested Russell should be in the MCL. The Broncos are not a fit for the North Central Activities Association, as much as RHS principal Larry Bernard tries to tell me otherwise. Russell’s closest league foe is 45 miles away, and for the most part, most Bronco teams have struggled against Beloit, Sacred Heart and Southeast of Saline. A lot of people at Russell, led by Bernard, think the MCL is beneath them, but why?

As far as I’m concerned, there shouldn’t be league play for football. Form eight-team districts, and that way seven of nine games are taken care of. It would be easy to schedule the other two. If this were the case, Russell would be in a district with Norton, TMP-Marian, Hoisington, Scott City, Cimarron, Lakin and Southwestern Heights. Two more games would be a cinch.

I don’t make the rules,, I just cover the rules enforced by the KSHSAA. Too bad Gary Musselman doesn’t have more power to affect change. I believe he would make a positive difference if he could.