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Oilers End Indians' Championship Quest

The Central Plains Oilers proved to be too strong, and the Indians' quest for a state football championship ended in a 0-42 loss in the Sub-State Championship football game in Claflin on Saturday, November 17. As they had shown throughout the season, Central Plains' exceptional defense held the Indians to only four earned first downs and kept the Indians from generating a sustained drive at any time in the contest. The Oilers have only allowed 6 points in their last 10 games and 28 total points on the season. The Oilers have outscored their opponents 576 to 28 thus far in the 2018 season. With the win, Central Plains advanced to the State Championship contest against the Solomon Gorillas on Saturday, November 24 in Newton.

The day was very cold with a blustery north wind making conditions uncomfortable for fans and players. The Indians received the opening kick-off. Jordan Raby returned the kick to the Indians; 26. Brady Dinkel's carry into the middle was met by a host of Oilers for no gain. Raby's try on the next play earned only one yard. A third-down carry by Dinkel trying the right side earned two yards. Facing 4th-&-7, the Indians punted. Dinkel's punt went out-of-bounds on the left sideline at the Central Plains (CP) 18 yard line.

CP set up offense using an I-formation. On the first snap, the Oilers' quarterback (6' 4" 202 lb Sr.) Myles Menges attempted to throw deep, but was forced to scramble due to pressure by Jayce Nider. Menges earned 7 yards on the play. On second down, Menges handed the ball to senior running back Alex Hickel (5' 11" 191 ib). Hickel carried the ball to the CP 31 for a first down. On the next play, Jerred Bieberle (5' 9" 170 lb Jr.) carried over the left side picking up 5 yards before being stopped by Nider. Hickel's second carry of the game advanced the ball to the SF 38. Hickel was displaying his 9.6 yards per carry habit. On the next snap, Menges dropped back to pass, was nearly sacked by Jesse Baxter, broke the tackle, and threw deep on the left side to Devin Ryan (6' 1" 165 lb Sr.) who was wide open. Ryan backed into the end zone for the Oilers' first touchdown. Menges scored the conversion points on an option play to the left side. With less than four minutes gone in the game (8:17), the Indians trailed 0-8.

The Oilers' kick-off went into the end zone for a touchback. Jordan Raby earned 5 yards on a nice run over the left side. He was stopped by Mason Doll (6' 2" 197 lb Sr.). Doll ended Raby's next two carries, one to each side, for little gain. Facing 4th-&-4, the Indians punted. The punt stopped with no positive roll at the CP 26.

The Oilers' first play, an option left pitched to Bieberle, was good for 5 yards. Hunter Helton stopped Alex Hickel's carry over the right side for a one-yard loss on the following play. It was the first of five plays the Indians would stop the Oilers for negative yardage in the game. Lawson Oeser (5' 7" 145 lb Jr.; 8.9 y/c ave.) earned two yards on sweep to the left on the next play. CP was flagged for a personal foul on the play, but Indians declined the penalty creating 4th-&-4. The Oilers punted for the first and only time in the game. The punt was very short and went out-of-bounds on the right sideline at the SF 38.

The next possession would prove to the most successful possession the Indians would have in the contest. Beginning just outside Oiler territory, the Indians earned 6 yards by running Jordan Raby to each side. On third down, Brady Dinkel gained another yard over the left side. Facing 4th-&-3 near mid-field, the Indians "went for it." Dinkel earned a new set of downs carrying the ball to the CP 31. Two plays, both carries to the right--one each by Dinkel and Raby, netted only one yard. On third-&-9, the Indians ran a reverse with Cody Baxter carrying for a 3-yard gain. With 1:25 left in the first period, the Indians used their first time-out to discuss strategy. Dinkel's 4th-down pass was caught by Cody Baxter between two Oiler defenders earning another Indian first down. St. Francis had advanced to the Oiler 15. Raby earned two yards around the left end before being stopped by Hickel and Oester. On the next play, Raby was tripped up in the backfield by Doll losing a yard. The play ended the first period. Brett Leibel (6' 2" 195 lb Sr.) tackled Dinkel after a one-yard gain on the following play. Facing 4th-&-8, Dinkel threw a pass intended for Cody Baxter. The ball was intercepted by the Oilers and tossed to the ground in an attempt to gain the Oilers additional yardage on the change of possession.

Central Plains set up offense at the 15 yard line. Two Hickel carries moved the ball to the CP 26. Another Hickel 5-yard carry ended with a tackle by Tiernan Poling. Cody Baxter stopped a run by Bieberle up the middle for a gain of one before Oester was tackled for a one-yard loss by Jayce Nider and others. Menges' 4th-&-5 pass intended for Ryan was dropped.

The Indians took possession on downs at the CP 31. Raby gained one yard going right before Dinkel added 3 over the left side. Dinkel was pressured by Doll and Leibel on a 3rd-down pass attempt and threw incomplete on the right side. Dinkel's 4th down pass attempt intended for Connor Keller was intercepted by Hickel and returned to the CP 38.

On first down, Hunter Helton and Cody Baxter tackled Hickel for a one-yard loss on a carry into the middle of the Indian defense. Hickel picked up 5 yards on an option left on the following play. Quarterback Menges was forced out-of-bounds on the right side by Tiernan Poling on the next play, but not before the Oilers had advanced to the SF 31. Oeser carried to the 20 on the next play where he was tackled by Shadryon Blanka. Blanka stopped Oeser's first down carry after a gain of two on the next snap. An option to the right found Hickel advancing to the 15. The next Hickel carry drew a flag on the Indians for a personal foul. With 1st-&-goal at the 4, Central Plains called time-out with 4:51 showing on the clock. Poling stopped Hickel just short of the goal line on the ensuing play. Myles Menges scored on a quarterback sneak on the next snap. Hickel ran over the right side for the conversion points. With 4:18 remaining in the first half, the Oilers led 0-16. 

The Oilers' next kick-off was an squib kick that was recovered by Colton Neitzel at the SF 39 yard line. After a carry into the middle by Dinkel gained one, Raby tried the right end picking up three yards before Ryan made the tackle. Dinkel then earned 3 yards over the left side setting up a 4th-&-3 situation. On 4th down, Dinkel was pressured by Mason Doll and threw incomplete ending the Indian possession.

The Oilers took possession on their own 35. After Hickel gained 6 yards on the first play of the possession, he was stopped for no gain by Richard Johnson on his second carry. On 3rd-&-4, Hickel banged into the middle breaking several tackles and was eventually forced out-of-bounds by Brady Dinkel at the Indians' 12. On the next play, an option to the right, Bieberle was tackled on the sideline by Tiernan Poling and Jordan Raby after a three-yard gain. Hickel powered for three more on the next snap, and the Oilers called time-out with 39 seconds remaining. Oeser's left side carry gained nothing due to a tackle by Cody Baxter. Again, CP called time-out (0:28). On 4th-&-4, Alex Hickel scored on a 6-yard touchdown run on a pitch to the left side. On the conversion attempt, a pass from Menges toward the left corner of the end zone was incomplete though the receiver was uncovered. With 21 seconds left in the first half, the Oilers had extended their lead to 0-22.

Again, the kick-off was a squib kick. Colton Neitzel recovered the football for the Indians. Brady Dinkel ran a keeper play earning a first down at the CP 35. Dinkel earned two more yards on another keeper on the final snap of the half. Hickel made the closing tackle. The Indians went to the locker room trailing 0-22. Almost everyone else headed for their cars or another location with a warmer temperature.

Lawson Oeser returned Brady Dinkel's kick-off. He was tackled by Connor Keller and Jayce Nider at the CP 31. After a Hickel gain of three up the middle, Menges threw a screen pass to Oeser on the left side. Dinkel made the tackle, but the play was good for a CP 1st down at the SF 38. Menges' next pass was nearly intercepted by Tiernan Poling. After some discussion by the officials, it was decided that Poling never had complete control of the ball before dropping and recovering it. The next play, an option right to Hickel, moved the ball to the SF 27. An option to Hickel going left was stopped by Shadryon Blanka after a one-yard gain. Jordan Raby's pressure on Menges on the following play rushed a pass to Bieberle in the right flat, but the play was good for a two-yard gain. On 3rd-&-7, a sweep to the right by Menges gained good yardage, but a holding penalty nullified the play. On 3rd-&-16, Menges ran an option to the right carrying the ball to the SF 7. A counter to Hickel was stopped for no gain by Jesse Baxter, Richard Johnson. and Hunter Helton. Hickel carried the ball to the one over the right side on the next play. Jesse Baxter made the tackle. On 3rd-&-goal from the one, Menges scored on a QB sneak with 7:30 left in the third period. The conversion pass to Grant Heldstab (6' 1" 182 lb Sr.) was well-defended by Tiernan Poling and unsuccessful. The deficit grew to 0-28.

Again, the CP squib kick was recovered by Colton Neitzel near mid-field. A run by Jordan Raby was halted for no gain by Mason Doll on 1st down. Brady Dinkel gained two around the left end on the next play. On 3rd-&-8, Doll sacked Raby in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. Facing 4th-&-13, the Indians punted. The ball rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

On the first snap of the possession, Alex Hickel started around the right side, cutback to the left and sprinted 65 yards for an Oiler touchdown. Lawson Oeser bolted around the right end for the conversion points. With 5:32 left in the 3rd period, CP led 0-36.

The squib kick-off was returned by Shadryon Blanka to the SF 36 yard line. A run into the middle by Jordan Raby advanced the ball to mid-field, but the next Raby carry into the middle was stuffed for no gain. On the third play of the series, Raby tried the left end and was funneled back into the defensive pursuit by excellent end play. The play resulted in a loss of yardage. Needing to score, the Indians did not punt. A pass from Brady Dinkel intended for Richard Johnson fell short of the intended target on 4th down. Johnson was well-covered by Menges.

CP took possession at the Oilers' 39. A triple-option pitch to the left netted Hickel 5 more yards. An option to the right advanced the ball to the SF 24 where Tiernan Poling made the stop. Hickel's third carry of the series accounted for 4 more yards over the left side. Brady Dinkel made the stop for the Indians. Jerred Bieberle then tried the middle, but the Indians stopped the play for little gain. Hickel then sprinted around the right end moving the football to the 14 yard line before he was tackled by Hunter Helton. On the next snap, a play-action pass from Menges to Grant Heldstab on the right side nearly scored, but Poling made a touchdown-saving tackle. On the play, CP was flagged for holding creating a 1st-&-21 situation. A screen pass to Oeser was well-covered by Raby and the result was a loss of three yards. The play ended the third period. The next CP pass, intended for Devin Ryan, was intercepted by Dinkel.

The Indians set up offense at their own 20. A carry by Dinkel into the middle netted three yards before a Heldstab tackle. Dinkel earned one more on a carry around the left end on the following play. On 3rd-&-6, a Dinkel carry using a "spinner' play picked up two more tough yards. Dinkel's 4th down pass into the left flat was incomplete.

Central Plains began in great field position; at the Indians' 27. Richard Johnson tackled Hickel after a gain of 3 up the middle. Menges then attempted a pass to Oeser in the right flat, but the pass fell incomplete. On 3rd-&-7, a play-action pass to Bieberle was over-thrown in the end zone. CP took a time-out at 9:12 for strategy. On 4th-down, Menges rolled left and passed to Devin Ryan for a 1st down at the 15 yard line. Hickel banged for 8 eight yards over the right side and was eventually stopped by Dinkel and Johnson. On the next snap, Hickel earned a first down over the right side taking the ball to the 5 yard line. On 1st-&- goal, the Oilers advanced the ball to the one. With only a yard to go, CP inserted Mason Wimmer (5' 11" 260 lb Sr.) into the game at fullback. Wimmer banged into the end zone, but a flag erased the touchdown and backed the Oilers up a bit. On the ensuing play, Menges faked the handoff to Wimmer and gave the ball to Hickel on a counter play. Hickel scored with 7:11 remaining in the contest.  A triple-option pitch to Hickel came up short on the conversion try. Central Plains led 0-42.

Myles Menges kicked-off for the Oilers, and the kick sailed into the end zone. Two carries by Jordan Raby netted a total of three yards; but on 3rd-down, Dinkel followed good blocking advancing to the SF 31 before begin tackled by Bieberle. The next two plays, both carries by Dinkel to the left netted three yards. Raby's third-down carry to the right side was stopped for no gain. Facing 4th-&-7, SF took a time-out with 3:58 remaining. The Indians ran a fake reverse attempting to trick the Oilers, but the Oilers squashed the play at the 36 after a short gain.

The Oilers took over on downs. Hickel's first carry of the series netted 9 yards over the right side. Bieberle banged up the middle to the 21 on the next play. With a new set of downs, Hickel powered for 8 around the left end, before Bieberle tried the middle again setting up 1st-&-goal at the 10. The Oilers now began using the entire play clock and substituted several new players into the contest. A 1st-down carry by Micheal Menges (5' 7" 142 So.) was fumbled, but recovered by the Oilers. With Brett Thompson (6' 1" 155 lb Sr.) now at quarterback, the ball was handed to William Layman (5' 10" 170 lb So.) for a 4-yard gain up the middle. The clock expired before the next snap. St. Francis was defeated by an excellent Central Plains Oilers team, 0-42. The Oilers (12-0) will play Solomon (11-1) in the State Championship game on Saturday, November 24 on Fischer Field in Newton, Kansas. Solomon advanced to the State Championship game by defeating Canton-Galva 28-12.

Congratulations to the Indians and coaches Nick Fawcett, Devin Dinkel, and Scott Carmichael for an outstanding season! The 11-1 Indians won the Yoke Bowl, and were crowned Northwest Kansas League Championships, District Champions, Regional Champions, Sectional Champions, and Sub-State Runner-Up. The Indians finished second in the season-ending polls.

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