January 29, 2023

Holcomb punches ticket to first ever state title game

The Holcomb Longhorns are headed to their first state championship football game after knocking off the defending state champion Andale Indians, 26-13. The Longhorns also avenged last year’s 57-13 sub-state loss to Andale.

The Longhorns used a combination of a multi-faceted offense and a stingy, opportunistic defense, scoring via the pass and the run and coming up with 4 Andale turnovers.

After holding Andale to a three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, Holcomb drove 62 yards in 5 plays, 3 runs and 2 passes, to take the early lead. Following a 22-yard completion to Christian Merz, Trey Teeter then hit Braden Showalter for a 17-yard touchdown and a 6-0 edge. On their next possession, the Indians drove to the Longhorn 19, but on fourth down, Braden Showalter picked off a Taylor Richter pass stopping the drive. Showalter now has 8 INTs on the year.

The Longhorns were then forced to punt and the Indians blocked it, but an Andale player failed to secure the ball as it careened downfield and Holcomb fell on it for the recovery at the Longhorn 43. Holcomb turned that break into a 57 yard drive, scoring 43 seconds into the second quarter when Teeter hit Christian Merz from 17 yards out. After the 2-point conversion, Holcomb led 14-0. Andale responded by driving to the Holcomb 25, but the drive was stopped when Tristen Dagenais fumbled and Showalter recovered. Both defenses ruled the rest of the half and Holcomb led 14-0 after two quarters.

Holcomb opened the second half struggling to move the ball and Andale got on the board with a 13 play drive that ate up almost seven minutes and ended with Dagenais diving into the end zone from 1 yard out. The extra point made it 14-7. The Longhorns went three-and-out and then almost suffered a disaster on the punt when the snap sailed over Braden Showalter’s head. He recovered the ball near the goal line and managed to get the punt away cleanly, but the Indians were guilty of roughing the punter, followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving Holcomb the ball at the Andale 41. That drive stalled, but on the first play of the 4th quarter, Alex Ortega picked off a Richter pass and Holcomb took over on its own 48. Three plays later, Teeter hit tight end Conner Van Cleave down the seam and he rumbled 47 yards for a touchdown, upping the lead to 20-7. The Longhorn D held again as Andale turned it over on downs at its own 24 yard line. Holcomb put the game nearly out of reach with less than six minutes to play, when Dillon Williams powered his way into the end zone from 9 yards out and the Longhorns led 26-7. Andale fought back scoring in just 2:10 with Zack Meyer scoring on a 6-yard run. Holcomb recovered the onside kick with 3:33 left in the game and ran out the clock for the 26-13 win.

Fighting a 30-mile-an-hour crosswind, Trey Teeter hit 8 of 15 passes for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dillon Williams rushed for 77 yards and a TD. Meanwhile, Holcomb held Andale’s vaunted rushing attack that had been averaging 350 yards a game to just 178 yards. The Longhorns had 250 yards total offense, while limiting the Indians to less than 200.

Holcomb will play for its first state football title Saturday, November 28, at Salina District Stadium, taking on the Holton Wildcats who stunned top-ranked and previously unbeaten Columbus 23-22. Kickoff is set for 1 PM, with our pregame at 12:30 on AM 1030 KBUF.