The Abilene 7th grade football team lost 42-40 Tuesday night to Marysville at Cowboy Stadium.

The Longhorns finished 5-2 on the season with two losses by a combined four points to Clay Center and Marysville. Marysville finished the season 3-3 with losses to Clay Center, Ft. Riley and Holton. Clay Center won the NCKL in both 7th and 8th Grade as both Bengal teams went undefeated.

Marysville was lead by quarterback/running back Porter Sparks in the victory over Abilene. He finished with five touchdowns that included a 40- yard run with 1:14 left in the game to tie it at 40. He added the two-point conversion that turned out to be the winning points in the game.

Abilene got on the board first with under a minute to go in the opening quarter on an Aaron Hartman 5-yard run to take a 6-0 lead. Marysville answered on its next possession on a Porter Sparks 43-yard reception. The Bulldogs added the two-point conversion, on a run by Dakota Slupianek, to take an 8-6 lead with 7:20 to play in the half.

Abilene then converted on a 4th and one on their next possession at the Bulldog 5-yard line. Hartman connected with Cole Veal on a pass play with 3:37 left in the half to give the Longhorns back the lead at 12-8.

Sparks struck again, this time on a 64-yard run with around 3:30 to play in the half to give Marysville back the lead at 14-12. Abilene quickly responded with a 3-play drive capped by a Landon Taplin 1-yard score. The Taplin touchdown was set up by a Thomas Keener 32-yard run. The score gave the Longhorns back the lead at 18-14 with 2:08 to play before halftime.

Sparks was not done. He scored on the ensuing kickoff on a return of around 60 yards to give the Bulldogs the lead 20-18 at halftime.

Marysville opened the second half with the football and Sparks struck again on a 61-yard run to increase the Bulldog lead to 26-18 with 6:51 left in the third quarter. Abilene answered on a 45 run by Keener. Weston Rock added the two-point conversion to tie the game at 26 with just under five minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. Marysville then turned to Slupianek, who busted loose on a 66-yard run on their first play of their next series. Sparks added the two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs back the lead at 34-26 with 4:25 to play in the 3rd quarter. Abilene came right back with a Rock 15-yard run and a Veal 2 point conversion to tie the game back up at 34 with 2:32 to play in the 3rd quarter.

In the 4th quarter Abilene finally got a defensive stop and took the lead 40-34 on a Taplin 3-yard run with 7:03 to play in the game. Marysville went on to take the game on Sparks’s fifth touchdown. Abilene took control of the ball with 1:14 left in the game and drove to the Bulldog 20-yard line. They were not able to score as the Longhorns ran out of time and faced a strong north wind with their passing game.

“Man, this was a fun group of kids to coach,” Abilene head coach Corey Casteel said. “We had two losses by a total of four points. They competed and were in every ball game we played. I couldn’t have asked for a better group. I think the future looks bright for these guys and I can’t see what happens.”

Contact Ron Preston at

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