Hutchinson, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–Scott City has faced is fair share of adversity this season. It started in the summer, when they lost two starting lineman for the season who were injured in separate car accidents. Second, Dalton Buehler, the team’s leading rusher, suffered a severe ankle sprain in the Sub-State game against Beloit and gave it his all Saturday, but couldn’t go any more after four carries in a valiant effort. Third, quarterback Brett O’Neil came down with the flu overnight and didn’t participate in warmups. Somehow, this “Band of Brothers” found a way to overcome all of this, and a 21-0 deficit, to win 28-21 over the Silver Lake Eagles in the Class 3A State Championship game. It was Scott City’s first state title since 1991, when they defeated Riverton 48-32 in Class 4A.
Wind and field position played a big factor in Scott City’s first two drives of the game. On their first punt after a three-and-out, the ball got caught by the wind, and dropped at the Beaver 21 yard line. Three plays later, Peter Pfannenstiel found the end zone from nine yards out, and the Dailin Kruger extra point made it 7-0 Silver Lake with 9:16 left in the first quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, a miscommunication by the kick returners hurt the Beavers, as they went down at the three yard line. After a short punt into a stiff wind, the Eagles would go on another 21-yard drive, capped off by a three-yard run by Dailin Kruger with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter. He would knock in the extra point to make it 14-0 Silver Lake after the first quarter.
Scott City would get a good drive started on their next possession. It would take over 10 minutes and 20 plays, but a 13-yard sack at the Silver Lake 21 on third down, and an incomplete pass on fourth down would end the Beaver threat. Later in the second quarter, Silver Lake’s Dawson DeShazo would pick off Brett O’Neil at the Scott City 34 yard line. After completing a third and long, the Eagles would power it in on a one-yard plunge by Blake Baird with 34 seconds before halftime. Kruger’s extra point made it 21-0 Silver Lake. The Beavers would get on the board right before halftime. With five seconds remaining before intermission, Brett O’Neil found brother Trey on a 23-yard touchdown pass, as Trey would stretch the ball over the goal line. Brett kicked in the extra point to make it 21-7 Silver Lake at the break.
Both teams would trade possessions to begin the second half. With Silver Lake facing third and long, Warren Kropp would flush Eagle quarterback Dailin Kruger way out of the pocket, and Tyler Hess would intercept Kruger for the first time, and take it 26 yards to the Silver Lake 11. On the very next play, Brett O’Neil would run the naked quarterback bootleg to the right, getting by a safety, and pulling the Beavers to within 21-14 after his PAT kick 4:47 to go in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter favored the Beavers in many facets of the game, including field position. Brett O’Neil would take a quarterback scramble inside the one yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter. It would be the next play almost shifted the momentum back to Silver Lake. As Brenner Wells looked like he stretched the ball in the end zone, Silver Lake’s took the fumbled ball and returned it 99 yards, but the officials said that Wells was down before the fumble inside the one. After a penalty and another trip to the one yard line, the Beavers were dropped for a two-yard loss and turned the ball over on downs. Scott City forced another three-and-out, but were unable to punch it in, as Brett O’Neil was intercepted for the third time Chase Saia with 6:04 remaining, and returned it to his own 10. After that, the fortunes of the Beavers would turn for the better. After shoving the Eagles back three yards on three plays, Wyatt Eitel blocked an Evan Burdiek punt at the goal line, and was recovered by Paco Banda at the Silver Lake six. On the next play, Brenner Wells found payturf on a six-yard run with 4:59 remaining. O’Neil’s extra point kick tied the game at 21. After Silver Lake returned the kickoff to the 32 yard line, and a five-yard facemask on the Beavers, Wells came up big again. He would intercept the Dailin Kruger pass at the Beaver 48 yard line. That would set up the drive that will be forever etched into Scott City Football history.
Scott City converted two big fourth downs on their game winning drive. The first was a fourth-and-one on a pass play to Wells from O’Neil that was good for 13 yards to the Silver Lake 29. Then on fourth-and-12 from the Eagle 31, O’Neil found Tyler Hess at the eight yard line with 54 seconds left. After a Silver Lake timeout, a drive that kids dream of playing football in their backyard was complete. O’Neil rolled to his right and found an open Drew Kite seven yards deep in the end zone with 47 seconds remaining. The extra point made it 28-21 Scott City, and the comeback win was complete up to that point. On the very next play, Tyler Hess intercepted Dailin Kruger a second time at the Eagle 42 with 33 seconds left in the game. After an offsides on Silver Lake, O’Neil would take a knee, and ended the game, as the Eagles decided against using their two timeouts left, and the Beavers won their fourth state title game in five tries.
For the game, Brett O’Neil was 16-of-29 for 208 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Brenner Wells had 15 rushes for 39 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Tyler Hess was the leading receiver for the Beavers with five receptions for 119 yards. Silver Lake’s Dailin Kruger was just three-of-10 for 55 yards and three interceptions. The leading ground gainer was Peter Pfannenstiel, who had 81 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. Evan Burdiek had two catches for 44 yards for the Eagles. Scott City doubled Silver Lake in total yards. The Beavers finished with 344 yards on 68 plays, compared to 169 yards on 48 plays for the Eagles. Scott City had an over eight minute time of possession margin, and converted four of eight fourth downs.
With the win, Scott City won their fourth state football championship in school history, the first since 1991. The Beavers are now 4-1 all time in state championship games, ans finish the season 14-0, the best mark in school history. Silver Lake ends their season at 13-1, and are now 7-10 all time in title games, including a 2-7 in their last nine championship games. Scott City’s senior class closed out their high school football careers with a record of 46-3, with all losses coming in the playoffs.