Thursday, 18 October 2018
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Sabetha and Marysville 3A State Title Football Preview
By Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports

Pregame interview with Sabetha Head Coach, Garrett Michael - click here to listen
Pregame interview with Marysville Head Coach, Dustin Heuer- click here to listen

UNDERDOGS - Class 3A has been considered one of the best and deepest divisions in Kansas high school football and 2017 proved to be no different.  However, two teams that were not ranked at the end of the regular season and not among five undefeated squads entering the playoffs have survived the gauntlet and will face off for a State Championship in Hutchinson on Saturday at 1:00 PM.   

HISTORY - Both Sabetha and Marysville have just one loss and despite being separated by just 50 miles in Northeast Kansas, have not played each other since competing in district play in 2001 and 2002.  For the Bluejays, it is their fourth title game appearance in football, having won it all their last two trips in 1993 and 1997.  Marysville is 0-2 in state football finals, the latest setback in 2009. 

MARYSVILLE SEASON - The Bulldogs went 4-1 in the NCKL with a lone loss coming in week four against Concordia (22-16), a team that went 4-5 this season.  In fact, Marysville only played three teams with a winning record in the regular season, but avenged their first-round playoff loss from the last two years by beating Norton 62-21 in Bi-Districts.  Wins followed against Larned (36-28) and Cheney (42-25) before upsetting top seed and unbeaten Phillipsburg 30-24 in Sub-State last week, for their third victory by eight points or less.

SABETHA SEASON - In the regular season, Sabetha faced four teams that won playoff games, with a lone setback at Nemaha Central 21-7 in a week seven game that decided the District and Big 7 League title.  The Jays responded by winning their final two district games 127-6 then won at MH-MA for a second straight year 56-14 to continue their 10th consecutive playoff campaign.  Sabetha beat Perry Lecompton for a second time this season 28-6, then derailed Osage City 56-13 before a 17-14 Sub-State triumph at unbeaten and #2 ranked Silver Lake last week.  It was the Bluejays only second game decided by less than 14 points this season.   

MARYSVILLE STATS – The potent spread attack for the Bulldogs has produced 42.8 points and 395 yards per game.  Jack Blumer has completed 70 percent of his passes and thrown for 2,940 yards while also leading the team with 903 rushing yards and accounting for 44 total touchdowns.  Atreyau Hornbeak has 850 yards and 20 rushing scores to aid the Marysville ground attack that averages 169 yards per game.  Gabe Pieschl leads the receiving core with 49 catches for 1,196 yards and 13 touchdowns while Jacob Backus has 64 receptions for 808 yards.  Brennan Wetter, Derek Roever and Hornbeak all have at least 16 catches and 220 yards receiving as well and the Bulldogs have turned the ball over just seven times this season.  The Marysville defense has 35 takeaways and four scores, led by linebacker, Bryson Meinhardt with more than 100 tackles.  However, they are allowing 19.6 points per game and have held just one opponent to less than 13 points this season.

SABETHA STATS – The Bluejays have averaged 381 yards per game with 346 courtesy of a physical and balanced rushing attack.  Brandon Brownlee has completed 19 of 38 passes for 373 yards and five touchdowns.  Five runningbacks all have more than 575 yards, led by Joe Gruber with 1,152 yards and 13 scores.  Mason Engelken has 969 yards and 11 TDs, Wyatt Beyer has 686 and 10 TDs, while Joel Hackney has added 581 yards and eight touchdowns and Gabe Garber has 14 trips to the endzone and 640 yards.  Blake Frey has 140 yards receiving to pace the Jays while Gruber has caught a pair of touchdowns in the post season and Riley Hermann also has a couple TD grabs and 120 yards receiving this season.  The Sabetha defense is a bigger story, allowing a mere 10 points per game and holding eight opponents to eight points or less.  Two foes have scored a season high 21 points on the Bluejay defense with linebackers Cauy Rokey and Garber both well over 100 tackles on the season and Gruber not far behind, as well as Elliott Strahm, who has been a dominate force on both sides of the line of scrimmage.  The Sabetha defense has 33 takeaways and 22 of those are interceptions after grabbing three more last week against Silver Lake.  Wyatt Beyer has picked off five passes in the last two games and has seven total this season as Sabetha has prepared and faced spread offensive teams the last nine weeks with senior defensive leader Cole Oehm leading the charge. 

SPECIAL TEAMS – Sabetha could have an advantage here with Braedon Cox who hit a 28-yard field goal against the Eagles last week that proved to be the difference.  Cox has hit 52 of 56 PATs this season and is 18 of 19 in the playoffs while also routinely sending kickoffs inside the five or ten yard line.  Cox is 94-104 attempting PATs in his high school career, earning top Big 7 honors as a sophomore and this year as a junior.  Marysville typically goes for two-point conversions after touchdowns.                            

COACHES – Dustin Heuer is in his fifth season at Marysvile and took over in the midst of a 32 game losing streak, which was erased with four victories in 2015 before a 7-3 campaign a year ago.  Dustin, who previously coached at Crete, Nebraska is a Hanover graduate, where his brother (Matt Heuer) is also coaching in a state championship game, looking for his Wildcats to repeat as undefeated 8-Man Division Two Champs in Newton, where they are making their fourth state title game appearance and will face Hodgeman County at 3:30. 

After beating his alma-mater Silver Lake for the second straight time last week, Garrett Michael has been coaching at Sabetha for 21 years and had the Bluejays in the playoffs each of his nine seasons as head coach.  His dad, Tom, was the head coach at Marysville from 1984-1988. 

SCHEDULE/BROADCAST -  The game will be on turf, which neither team has played on this year.  Sabetha is traveling to Hutchinson on Friday with a stop in Salina for a full practice on turf while Marysville will drive to Hutchinson on Saturday morning. Game time is 1:00 PM on Saturday and will be broadcast live on KNZA 103.9 FM and   Pregame starts at 12:20 PM.

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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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