Plainsmen quarterback Charlie Johnson looks for an open receiver as he breaks away from the line during the game at Haenfler field on Friday, Sept. 15.
Sedgwick County hands Plainsmen first regular season loss in three seasons
Last year, the Perkins County Plainsmen played the spoiler, handing the Sedgwick County Cougars their first loss in 16 starts.
This year, the Cougars got to play the spoiler role, handing the Plainsmen their first regular season loss in three seasons.
The Cougars scored their final touchdown with just :22 seconds left to go up 28-33.
The Plainsmen got off two plays before the clock ran down to end the game.
With 9.1 seconds left and the Plainsmen on their own 33, the Cougars gave quarterback Charlie Johnson a running lane and he took off.
Coach Lance Steffen tried to call his last time-out as soon as Johnson was tackled but officials ruled time had expired.
That left the Plainsmen with a feeling they haven’t experienced much.
“Hopefully we learn from this,” Steffen said after the game.
“This is the game where we beat them last year and they went on to win a state championship,” he added.
Their coaches told Steffen that loss helped refocus their team and led to the state championship run for back-to-back championships.
Steffen said this could be the wake-up call for his kids, too.
“This is the first time in two years that you’ve felt this feeling and you get to play another game,” Steffen said he told his players after the loss.
In the past two seasons, the Plainsmen suffered season-ending losses in the playoffs.
Steffen noted his kids are resilient and will bounce back.
District Play Begins
From here on, each of the next four games takes on more meaning because they are D1-10 district games.
This week the Plainsmen host Hemingford at Haenfler Field. They come into the game with a 2-2 record and some big kids on both the line and backfield.
Of three district games remaining, two will be at home.
Next week the team travels to Dundy County Stratton and will close out the season at home against Sutherland and Morrill.
A district championship ensures the Plainsmen a spot in the 32-team D1 playoffs.
Makings of a track meet
Friday’s game looked like it could turn into a track meet in the early going.
The Plainsmen drove 65 yards down the field on the opening possession of the game to score on a 2-yard run by Alex Patrick.
With 10:03 on the clock, the Plainsmen held a 6-0 lead after the PAT run by Patrick fell short.
The Cougars answered right back with a 57-yard drive of their own, with their senior quarterback Brennan Ehmke scoring on a 2-yard keeper. A successful kick gave them a 6-7 lead with 8:44 on the clock in the opening period.
From there,the two teams began feeling each other out before a rash of turnovers and penalties struck.
With 3:22 left in the first, the Plainsmen put the ball on the ground, giving the Cougars great field position at the PC 14.
The Cougars scored on the next play but fortunately for the Plainsmen, a Cougar penalty nullified the play.
Two plays later, Tyson Patrick stripped the ball while making the tackle to get the ball back.
However, the Plainsmen gave it right back two plays later on an interception at the Cougar 27.
The Cougars got to the PC 14 on a third-down completion from Ehmke to senior receiver Cade McKinley.
The pair would hook up numerous times later in the game and together set up the Cougars go-ahead touchdown.
Emhke went right back to McKinley in the end zone but this time senior Michael Beck killed the threat with an interception.
Three plays later, Johnson would pull away for 33 yards on an option keeper to the Cougar 21. Following some tough yards from Domonic Wendell and Patrick, Johnson got the score on another keeper at the 10:12 mark. Wendell added the point after run for a 14-7 lead.
The final two minutes of the first half weren’t especially kind to the Plainsmen.