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Axtell and Thunder Ridge Set to Square Off in 8M-DII Title Game
By Jared Sleppy
Copyright: MSC Sports

#1 Axtell (12-0) and #2 Thunder Ridge (11-1) are set to square off this Saturday at Fischer Field in Newton for the Class 8M-DII State Championship.

The Eagles are the defending champs and have won 25 games in a row. Last year’s title was their first since 1993. They are playing in their third state championship appearance in the last four years with the other being their 34-26 loss to Osborne in the 2019 finale.

All Axtell has done this postseason is outscore their playoff opponents 206-46. Until last week’s 36-32 win against Canton-Galva, they hadn’t beaten anyone by fewer than 44 points. It was also their first full-length 48-minute game since their Week 1 82-38 win at Cair Paravel.

In last week’s win, Axtell’s quarterback Isaac Detweiler threw for 188 passing yards with two touchdowns. He also carried the ball 26 times for 142 yards and two rushing touchdowns. On the defensive side of the field, he had an interception and 2.5 tackles for loss as well.

Running back Brandon Schmelzle had 124 yards from scrimmage with a rushing and receiving touchdown. Their offense had 384 total yards with 6.9 yards per play.

Detweiler’s overall numbers are absurd. He has a total of 57 total touchdowns (4.8 per game) and 2,661 total yards. Over the air, he has 38 touchdowns to just one interception. Again, Axtell has only played two full games this season.

As a unit, they average 314.1 yards and 59.1 points per game. They have 69 plays of 20+ yards which averages to 5.8 per game. Axtell averages an absurd ten yards per play and are 61.5% on 3rd down conversions.

Their defense is no slouch either. They are allowing just 2.2 yards per carry, a 23.8% 3rd down conversion rate and only 142 yards per game.

Tenth year head coach Eric Detweiler has an absurd playoff winning percentage of 79.3% (23-6), which is actually better than his overall record of 78.1% (86-24).

As for the Longhorns, their lone state title came in 2011. Their most recent state title game appearance came the year after.

Last year, they made the sub-state round, but lost to Axtell 46-0 in their only loss of the season. Thunder Ridge has won nine games in a row following their 48-22 Week 3 loss to Hill City. That would be their only game without being able to score 40 points.

In the following remaining games in the regular season in Weeks 4-8, the Longhorns would outscore their opponents 247-18.

Last week, Thunder Ridge defeated Dighton handily 48-12. In that game, quarterback Dylan Bice threw just four times but carried it 18 times with 236 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. His brother, Dalton, had 102 rushing yards as well on just 12 carries.

Dylan Bice has been cruising in the playoffs with 14 rushing touchdowns in the previous four games with 586 rushing yards. Thunder Ridge is averaging 58 points per game in the playoffs.

This season, the Longhorns are averaging 410.6 yards per game with right at 300 rushing yards per game. Their offense runs the ball 74.3% of the time and they average 8.7 yards per play in total.

They also do a good job turning teams over. The Longhorns have a turnover ratio of +21 with 16 interceptions and ten fumble recoveries with only five turnovers lost.

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on Sunny 101.3 FM with Jared Sleppy on the call.

©2024 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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