By RON PRESTON
SCOTT CITY – Tradition doesn’t graduate. That is the slogan of the reigning class 3A state champions Scott City Beavers which the team lived up to in its season opener.
Abilene took the four-hour drive to western Kansas to play a pre-season ranked team Friday night and fell to Scott City 40-13 at Darner Field.
Scott City won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.
The Cowboys fumbled but recovered the opening kickoff and took possession on their own 27- yard line and were able to convert the opening series into a first down to their 41-yard line.
Abilene was forced to punt on a 4th and 11 play of their second series of series of downs, Cowboy punter Eli Lahr punted to the Scot City 33 yard line.
The Beavers went backwards on their first two tries against the Cowboy defense, but on third down and 18, quarterback Trey O’Neil fired a pass down the middle of the field that was tipped and senior Brayden Strine was able to catch the deflection and outrace the Cowboy secondary 75 for the opening score of the game.
“That first touchdown was a fluke,” Cowboy Coach Jeff Geist said following the game. “We were doing a great job of stopping them.
“That ball gets tipped, our defenders were confused and that kind of play can happen to anybody.”
Scott City scored two more passing touchdowns in the first quarter on passes of 37 yards from O’Neil to Chris Pounds, and a third down and 14 yards to go with less than a minute in the period, O’Neil to Strine for 20 yards with 3.4 seconds remaining. A missed point after attempt made the score 20-0 at the end of the first quarter.
“Many times we had something going and we would take a step back and that step back hurt us,” Coach Geist said.
With less than a minute gone in the second quarter Scott City’s O’Neil found Strine open for a 67 yard score and after the PAT, Scott City led 27-0.
“We got caught three times on passes where we got caught looking into the backfield and not taking care of coverage,” coach Geist said.
Scott City’s Coach Glenn O’Neill has been very successful running a modified version of the Wing-T offense. The variations that he uses give the offense many options on running or passing the ball.
Abilene was able to step up and basically control the remainder of the quarter. Scott City had two more possessions in the period with both of them being three and out on downs.
Quarterback Chase Stalder and running back Tanner Hoekman kept drives alive as Abilene had the ball for the next six minutes of the second period.
Stalder had some key passes to Keil Kelly, Jesse Patrick and Hoekman for the Cowboys.
Following the final possession of the first half by the Beavers, Stalder completed a 26 yard catch and run play by Dalton Goodwin for a first down.
Stalder then found Patrick for nine yards before the Beaver defense stiffened to hold the Cowboys and use up the clock, ending the first half at 27-0.
The two teams exchanged offensive series during the first half of the third period until the Beavers Brett Meyer, now at quarterback replacing the injured O’Neil, completed a five yard touchdown pass to Pounds.
Following the PAT, the score was Scott City 34-0 with 3:36 left in the period.
Stalder found Kelly and Lahr open for three short passes before time ran out in the period.
In the fourth quarter, following two possessions by Scott City and a missed field goal attempt, the Cowboys found the end zone on their first possession as Stalder hit a streaking Lahr for an 80 yard touchdown. The PAT was wide left and the score was now 34-6.
The Cowboys attempted an onside kick but it was recovered by the Beavers at their own 32 yard line.
They kept the ball on the ground grinding out yardage and running time off the clock.
Meyer was able to use one of his option pitches on a third and 18 yard play at the Cowboy 18 yard line for a touchdown by Martin Gough. The PAT failed and the score was 40-6 with 3:02 left in the game.
Cowboy backup quarterback Harley Hazlett entered the game and on the first play, he called his own number and ran straight up the middle for an 89 yard touchdown run. The PAT kick by Kelly was good, making the final 40-13.
For the game Stalder connected on 13 of 26 for 205 yards and a touchdown Goodwin caught two passes for 106 yards, Kelly 5 for 49 yards and Jesse Patrick was 5 for 37.
Stalder carried the ball 13 times for 31 yards and Hoekman had 7 attempts making 17 yards against the Beaver defense.
“We have some work to do,” coach Geist said following the game. “But there were some positives.
“Our running defense for the most part was pretty good. I am pretty pleased with those kids. I think we’ll do a really nice job of stopping the run as we go through the season.”
“They are a quality team,” Geist said of Scott City. “They have a great tradition, a great coaching staff and their kids are fast and they are strong.”
“We are just going to keep chopping wood and we’ll get better,” Geist concluded.
Next up: Abilene hosts Rossville
Scott City 40 -Abilene 13
Abilene (0-1) 0 0 0 13 – 13
Scott City (1-0) 20 7 7 6 - 40
SC – Strine 75 yard pass from O’Neil, PAT- Stewart kick
SC – Pounds 37 yard pass from O’Neil, PAT – Stewart kick
SC – Strine 20 yard pass from O’Neil, PAT – failed
SC – Pounds 65 yard pass from O’Neil, PAT- Stewart kick
SC – Pounds 5 yard pass from Meyer, PAT – Stewart kick
AB – Lahr 80 yard pass from Stalder, PAT – failed
SC – Gough 18 yard pass from Meyer, PAT – failed
AB – Hazlett 89 yard run, PAT – Kelly kick.