On a frozen tundra of artificial turf, the Holcomb Longhorns skated, slid, crunched and finally soared their way to a 21-0 state championship win over the Holton Wildcats. Ice covered the surface of the field at Salina District Stadium, site of the 4A Division 2 championship game, and temperatures never got above freezing all day. Add in more freezing drizzle and it made for tough sledding for both football teams.
Neither team could find much traction in the early going, although Holton cracked midfield on its second possession, eventually stalling at the Longhorn 39. The punt put Holcomb at its own 11 and on 3rd down a Trey Teeter pass was picked off by A.J. Haussler at the Longhorn 45. That’s when the Holcomb defense rose up, holding the Wildcats to 9 yards on four running plays and taking over on downs at the Longhorn 36 with 10:41 remaining in the 1st half.
On the next play, Trey Teeter aired it out, hitting Christian Merz for a 31 yard gain. Three running plays netted 6 yards and on 4th down Teeter connected with Brandon Stegman for a 25-yard gain to the Wildcat 2. Dillon Williams did the rest pushing through the line for the final two yards to break the scoring ice. The 2-point conversion failed and Holcomb led 6-0.
Holton had its best scoring opportunity on the last possession of the 1st half. The Wildcats drove from their 28 to the Longhorn 10 in 13 plays, but as time expired, quarterback Justin Rieschick threw up a jump ball that was batted down in the end zone. The two teams skidded into the locker room with Holcomb up 6-0 at halftime.
Brandon Stegman got things warmed up to open the 2nd half, with a 38-yard run down the sideline on the first play. The Longhorns would eventually face 4th and goal from the seven yard line. Trey Teeter’s pass into the end zone was almost picked off by the Wildcats, but as the ball caromed off the defender, Braden Showalter pulled it in for the touchdown. The 2-point conversion gave Holcomb 14-0 lead early in the 3rd quarter.
Holton tried to answer crossing midfield again, only to be stopped at the Longhorn 43 and punt the ball away. Holcomb started at its 17 and took just four plays to score again. After a running play went nowhere, Teeter hit Merz for a 21 yard gain. After a short gain to the 41, Teeter aired it out again, this time hitting Showalter on a 59-yard catch and run for the TD. Teeter’s point-after kick made it 21-0, Holcomb, with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game.
Again Holton mounted a long drive getting to the Holcomb 17 in 13 plays, but on 4th down, Stegman blitzed from the outside and sacked Rieschick to turn the ball over to the Longhorns. Holton would get the ball just one more time and turn it over on downs for the third time in the game. Holcomb ran out the final 5:29 and the Longhorns could celebrate their first football state championship in school history. The Longhorns finish the year at 11-2 and reign as the champions of class 4A-Division 2.