The Abilene Longhorn 7th Grade football team overcame a slow start to defeat the Marysville Bulldogs 26-12, Tuesday night, at Cowboy Stadium. Abilene finished the season 4-1 and had a perfect 4-0 record against NCKL competition. Abilene did not play Concordia because the Panthers did not have enough players. The Longhorns also did not play Chapman because Abilene did not have in school learning at that time, and the Irish did not have a full 7th grade team.
Abilene’s victory last week over Ft. Riley was against a combined 7th/8th grade team.
In the game against Marysville, Abilene opened on offense and turned over the football with an interception. The Bulldogs marched down the field and scored on a 36 yard run by Grante Haefele, to take their first and only lead of the game at 6-0 with 57 seconds left in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs drive was aided by penalties on the Longhorns.
The game turned quickly in the second quarter, as Abilene outscored Marysville 26-0 in the period. The Longhorns got the first of four straight touchdowns by Heath Hoekman, on a 57-yard reception from Taygen Funston, to tie the game at 6-6 with 6:59 left in the half. The Bulldogs went three and out on their next possession thanks to a quarterback sack by Funston. Marysville then was unable to get off their punt attempt and Canyn Taylor tackled the punter at the Bulldog 20 yard line.
Heath Hoekman would score one play later to give Abilene their first lead of the game at 12-6 with 4:35 to play in the half. The Longhorns got another big sack to end the Bulldogs next series from Lane Hoekman to force a punt. Abilene took possession at the Marysville 39 yard line and Heath Hoekman scored on the first play of the series to push the Longhorn lead to 18-6 with 2:40 to play in the second quarter. Marysville turned over the football on downs on their next series and Abilene took possession at the Bulldog 46 yard line with just 23 seconds left in the half. It was more than enough time for the quick strike Longhorn offense. Abilene scored on the second play of the series on a 46-yard touchdown pass play from Funston to Heath Hoekman with nine seconds left in the half.
Marysville scored the only points of the second half on a 58-yard touchdown reception by Haefele with 5:44 left in the game. The Bulldogs ended the year with a 4-3 record.
“This is such a good, fun group of kids,” said Abilene head coach Corey Casteel. “We had a blast coaching them all year. I am excited to see what the future holds for this team and am excited to see what they do once they get to high school.”
The NCKL title was the first for the 7th grade since 2013. The Longhorns were lead by head coach Corey Casteel, he was assisted by Todd Callahan and Trent Sanchez.