Saturday, 14 December 2019
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Centralia Completes Comeback to Capture 1A Championship
By Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports
11/30/2019

Everyone knew that the best football player in Class 1A would be keeping the football when the title game was hanging on a fourth and goal play from the two-yard-line with Centralia down 14-12 against Smith Center and just a minute remaining in the game. Kamble Haverkamp made a man miss and snuck around the right end for his third touchdown of the game that gave the Panthers their first lead of the day with 55 seconds left and an 18-14 victory for the fourth state football title in school history! The party officially commenced after the Centralia defense allowed just one yard in the final four Smith Center plays of the game. That Panther defense was key with huge stops throughout the second half before the offense took advantage of two short field to score twice in the the final seven minutes of the game. 

The wind was a major factor and after a scoreless third quarter, the two-time defending 1A champs still held a 14-6 advantage heading in the final frame. Smith Center had maintained momentum and found second half success with freshman fullback, Jake Sasse picking up big chunks of yardage as the Redmen drove twice inside the Centralia 40-yard-line. Both times, the Panther defense made stops on fourth down and short. 

When the Panthers got the wind in the final quarter, things really started to swing in their favor, including a 70-yard punt by Haverkamp.  Centralia forced a three-and-out and following a 23-yard Smith Center punt, scored on their next offensive play as Haverkamp broke free up the middle for a 37 yard touchdown. Another failed two-point pass attempt left the Panthers still behind 14-12. Yet, they forced another quick three-and-out and then had the football at the Smith Center 24 yard line following a 10-yard Redmen punt into the stiff 30 MPH wind. 

With less than three minutes in the game, Haverkamp converted a fourth down and 11 finding Corbin Becker for a sliding catch inside the 10-yard-line. Four plays later on fourth down and goal at the two, Haverkamp got the call and punched in the winning score as Centralia won their first state football title since their last appearance in 2013 and is now 4-3 in championship games. 

Centralia was 1-10 converting on third downs and only had five first downs in the game and 148 total yards of offense. Haverkamp accounted for 104 yards on 23 carries and all three touchdowns while going 3-7 passing for another 36 yards earning "Player to Bank on" honors from the Citizens State Bank and Trust Company of Hiawatha. But the Panthers never panicked in a game that was turnover free for both teams. 

Smith Center finished with 257 yards of offense and 11 first downs before their 22-game win streak was snapped ending a third straight season with a 12-1 record and the 2019 state runner-up trophy. The Redmen were 0-4 on fourth down plays. Senior quarterback, Colby Trenton had 138 yards rushing while Sasse finished with 83 yards and 19 carries as the Redmen played inspired while trying to overcome the loss of star senior back Jaden Atwood who had more than 1,600 yards rushing before suffering a knee injury in the 20-19 Sub-State win against Plainville.  

On Saturday in Hays, Trenton had both rushing touchdowns for Smith Center in the first half with a 21 yard run on third down and seven that capped a 78-yard drive on 13 plays in the first frame. Haverkamp answered for Centralia with a 40 yard touchdown on the final play of the first quarter to pull within 7-6, capping a three play drive that covered just 48 yards. Colby found the endzone again just 52 seconds before halftime on a 13 yard run to the outside that gave the Redmen a 14-6 advantage at the break. Colby also had a team high eight tackles before Smith Center dropped to 10-4 in state title games. 

It wasn't odd that Centralia won the 2019 title after also claiming state football championships in 2009 (overtime against Smith Center), 2011 and 2013. Corbin Becker had 12 tackles and Austin Holthaus added 11 stops while Colton Hasenkamp earned Giant Communications "Lineman of the Game" honors with eight take down on the defensive line including a huge tackle for loss that forced a Redmen punt late in the fourth quarter. Isaac Flood and Tyler Heinen each added eight stops as well.  Centralia appeared to score on a long screen pass to senior Noah Quigley on their first drive of the second half, but it was called back by penalty and the Panthers turned the ball over on down inside the Smith Center 35-yard-line.  

Coach Larry Glatczak talked after the game about "winning one for Whitey." Glatzcak's father had passed away between the second and third weeks of this season. Centralia will take a 12-game winning streak into 2020 after losing just five senior starters.     


©2019 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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