Holcomb to play in first state title game

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Last spring the Holcomb boys’ basketball team brought home a state championship. This Saturday the Longhorn football team will try to do the same when they take on the Holton Wildcats. Holcomb is 10-2 after avenging last year’s semi-final loss to Andale, beating the Indians 26 – 13 last Friday. Holton is 9-3 and knocked off top-ranked and previously unbeaten Columbus 23 – 22, scoring a touchdown and 2-point conversion with 31 seconds left in the game. That win avenged the Wildcat’s sub state loss to the Titans a year ago.

Holton’s powerful multi-option running game is led by Mason Barta with 987 yards on 173 carries, a 5.7 yards per carry average, and 15 rushing touchdowns. Barta has rushed for more than 100 yards in three games. Spencer Baum has 701 yards on the ground and 4 TDS; Will Wright has 647 yards rushing and 2 TDs; Justin Pool has 617 yards and 5 TDs; and quarterback Justin Rieschick has rushed for 583 yards and 4 TDs. As a team, the Wildcats average 329 yards rushing a game, 5.9 yards per carry.

Clearly, stopping the running game is the critical challenge for the Holcomb defense, which last week held Andale’s 350-yard-per-game running attack to just 178 yards. Longhorn Coach Kent Teeter says the difference is that Holton will line up and run right at you, determined to simply overpower the defense. The Wildcats throw the ball about four times a game. Of their 14 pass completions, 4 have gone for touchdowns, including one in last week’s upset win over Columbus.

Holton is giving up only 13 points a game, while scoring 27 points a game. The Longhorns also have a stingy defense, surrendering just 11 points a game, putting up 36 points a game.

The Wildcats are coached by Brooks Barta (202-35) in his 20th year and have won 3 state titles while losing 3 under Barta. Their most recent championship came in 2012. Longhorn head coach Kent Teeter is in his second season at Holcomb and coaching in his first state championship game.

Kickoff from Salina is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., with pregame at 12:30 on AM 1030 KBUF.