By KYLE MANTHE
The Washburn Review
Week 8 of Friday night football featured a matchup between two of the top teams in the city as the 5-2 Seaman Vikings visited the 6-1 Washburn Rural Junior Blues.
It was truly a tale of two halves as the defenses controlled early on and the offenses took over late, but it was the explosive offense of the Junior Blues which propelled them to a 42-31 Centennial League victory on Senior Night at Bowen-Glaze Stadium.
“This is one they will remember for a long time, a share of the league championship tonight, coming and playing a great game like this, an exciting game, that’s something they will always remember,” Washburn Rural coach Steve Buhler said.
The defenses for each side were as good as advertised with a three and out for each team to begin the game.
Seaman would strike first, moving the ball in nine plays down to the 5-yard-line of Washburn Rural before senior Gavin Wilhelm knocked in a 22-yard field goal.
The Junior Blues responded with a nine-play drive of their own, ending in a 9-yard pass to junior Amr Sabbarini in the right side of the end zone from sophomore Branton DeWeese before the end of the first quarter.
Each side's defense controlled most of the second quarter with an interception coming from Washburn Rural’s senior Landon MacEwan, who finished with two takeaways in the game, but no points would come from the first turnover.
“I definitely think we were being physical, we pride ourselves on being a physical team, and I think we really got to them in the run game,” said Washburn Rural senior Robby Bolin.
With yards hard to come by on the ground, the Vikings would go to the air with a pass from senior Camden Barta to senior Brody Gormley, who tapped his toes at the back of the end zone for a 9-yard TD just before halftime.
“It was a hard-fought seven points we held them to in the first half, so we were kind of in that position and knew that coming out we were going to have to execute the same way we were and unfortunately we didn’t,” said Seaman coach Jared Swafford.
The Junior Blues struck fast out of halftime, with Bolin breaking a tackle and taking an 84-yard pass from DeWeese to the house on the third play.
“We came into halftime and nothing was really working so we came out, made some adjustments and stuff started firing and it just worked out,” Bolin said.
After punts from each side Seaman would counter with a catch and run of 65 yards by Gormley into the end zone, putting the Vikings back out in front, but not for long. Two plays later Washburn Rural junior Ma’Kenttis Adams bounced outside for a 28-yard touchdown run to flip the scoreboard.
After a kick return back to the 20-yard-line by Seaman sophomore Jack Bloom, Barta was able to connect with senior P.J. Vargas for a 17-yard touchdown throw just three plays later.
Next came the longest drive of the quarter, a nine-play balanced attack from the Junior Blues ending in another touchdown pass from DeWeese to Sabbarini from 24 yards out to end the high scoring quarter at 28-24 Rural.
“We went in and just re-adjusted our protection for Branton (DeWeese) and when we were able to give him time it allowed our wide receivers to gain a little separation on the guys that were pressing at the line,” said Buhler.
A quick Viking punt and a 75-yard catch by senior Adrian Tibbetts set up the second DeWeese to Bolin touchdown throw, this time from 20 yards out to break the game open at 35-24. After a second consecutive three-and-out from Seaman, Washburn Rural would need only one play to find the end zone as JC Heim took a handoff 90 yards with just under 10 minutes to play.
The Vikings would get into the end zone one more time on a 3-yard score from Barta to senior Braden Colley but it was too late as the ensuing onside attempt failed.
“I think we will bounce back, we had a great week of practice, we've got great senior leadership, and I like our chances to go out and give ourselves a shot in the playoffs in every game,” said Swafford.
At 7-1 on the year the Junior Blues claimed a share of the Centennial League title with Manhattan and Junction City.
Both Rural and Seaman will be set for home playoff games on Oct. 29, with opponents to be determined late Friday or early Saturday.
“We are excited, we are ready to go, we have been talking about this since last November,'' Buhler said. "This is where we wanted to be, we wanted a top-four seed, I think we got that tonight, hopefully with the win we put ourselves right where we want to be and now the second season starts.''
WASHBURN RURAL 42 , SEAMAN 31
WASHBURN RURAL (7-1) 7 0 21 14
SEAMAN (5-3) 3 7 14 7
Seaman -- Wilhelm 22 FG
Washburn Rural -- Sabbarini 9 pass from DeWeese (Frederickson kick)
Seaman -- Gormley 9 pass from Barta (Wilhelm kick)
Washburn Rural -- Bolin 84 pass from DeWeese (Frederickson kick)
Seaman -- Gormley 65 pass from Barta (Wilhelm kick)
Washburn Rural -- Adams 28 yard run (Frederickson kick)
Seaman -- Vargas 17 pass from Barta (Wilhem kick)
Washburn Rural -- Sabbarini 24 pass from DeWeese (Frederickson kick)
Washburn Rural -- Bolin 20 pass from DeWeese (Frederickson kick)
Washburn Rural -- Heim 90 yard run (Frederickson kick)
Seaman -- Colley 3 pass from Barta (Wilhem kick)
Rushing -- Seaman: Bloom 10-15, Barta 5-8, Huston 1-0, Stallbaumer 8-3. Washburn Rural: Heim 9-128, Adams 15-48, DeWeese 6-5
Passing -- Seaman: Barta 22-35-2, 288 yards, Stallbaumer 0-1-0, 0 yards. Washburn Rural: DeWeese 11-18-0, 294 yards.
Receiving -- Seaman: Gormley 8-134, Colley 5-84, Stallbaumer 5-35, Vargas, 3-32, Bloom 2-3. Washburn Rural: Bolin 4-144, Sabbarini 4-63, Tibbetts 1-75, Hanks 2-17