Revenge of the ‘Cats

Monday, September 14, 2020

FAYETTE — Slater remembered the last time it played at Fayette, and any vows its younger players made for a pay-back were realized Friday.

The Wildcats suffered a devastating 60-6 loss there during the Class 1, District 5 Tournament semifinal two years ago, the program’s first-ever playoff game, their sixth straight loss to the former Lewis and Clark Conference rival they hadn’t beaten since 2010.

Behind an outstanding performance by senior quarterback Keegan Zdybel, who the Falcons limited to 70 yards of total offense in the previous meeting, Slater avenged that debacle with a 42-26 non-conference win over the Falcons.

“We are really happy with going into Fayette and coming out with a victory,” remarked ‘Cats head coach Michael Horton. “Our young men have been looking forward to playing them since they put it to us a couple of years ago.”

None more so than Zdybel, who rushed for 167 yards and two of his five touchdowns, a display Horton called “incredible.”

Not that the Falcons (2-1) made it easy. After the Purple scored first on a 14-yard Zdybel run, Fayette answered with sophomore Benjamin Well’s 23-yard pass to senior Zach Henderson — although failed on its two-point attempt. Sophomore Juan Valdez-Garcia made all six of his conversion kicks for Slater, which remained in front the rest of the game.

Sophomore Dustyn Simmons broke off a 41-yard run and Zdybel returned an interception 85 yards for a 21-6 Wildcat lead. Wells connected with senior Kaden Polson for 23 yards to narrow the gap before halftime.

Fayette gained more ground on a 1-yard toss from Wells to junior Logan Wiswell early in the third quarter, but Zdybel took the ensuing kickoff to the house with an 85-yard return. Junior Garren Vroman’s 53-yard breakaway narrowed the margin to 28-26 and the Falcons threatened to pull in front on their next possession, before Zdybel scooped up a fumble and dashed 74 yards for a score.

A 42-yard Zdybel run capped the scoring in the fourth quarter, and that insurance appeared to be needed as Fayette again drove into the ‘Cats’ “red zone” with five minutes remaining. That’s when senior Carson Knowles, who had 19 tackles, picked off a pass that sealed the victory, Slater running out the clock.

The ‘Cats had 285 yards of offense, all on the ground, not attempting a pass during the rain-soaked contest. Besides his scoring, Zdybel’s tour-de-force included 21 tackles.

Slater (2-0) is scheduled to travel to Urbana on Friday for a tilt against Skyline, which — after opening the season with a 48-0 loss at perennial state power Ste. Genevieve-Valle — have won their last two games by scores of 84-62 and 47-12.

“We are going to enjoy the win, but we have to have a good week of practice with a tough road game this week,” Horton said.

Sweet Springs 42, Russellville 0

RUSSELLVILLE — After barely getting by Carrollton, 14-13, a week earlier, Sweet Springs was hoping for a bit of a breather Friday at Russellville before facing

Although the Greyhounds had some bugs to work out at halftime, they responded with a strong third quarter for a 42-0 victory, their first shutout of the season.

“Overall I am very pleased with our performance,” noted Sweet Springs head coach Jeff Holtzman. “We did a great job securing the ball in very wet and sloppy conditions, with no turnovers.”

All-state junior Cole Lovercamp proved to be a good “mudder,” rushing for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries for the ‘Hounds, starting with a 14-yard run for the game’s first score. Senior Grant Knipmeyer plunged across the goal line from two yards out later in the opening period.

Lovercamp broke off a 34-yard dash to send Sweet Springs into halftime with a 21-0 lead.

The ‘Hounds put the game away, and started the quick clock, with three third-quarter TDs. Junior Matt Eckhoff ran for 25 yards before Lovercamp caught a 42-yard pass from junior Zapher Lea and then scored on a 21-yard run.

Sweet Springs out-gained the Indians (0-2), 322 to 138 yards. Knipmeyer made eight solo tackles, forced a fumble and recovered one, while senior Tyler Bernard got his hands on 11 stops and caused a fumble.

The ‘Hounds (3-0) head to Springfield this week to play Lighthouse Christian, a Home School Association program coming off a 10-3 campaign and opened this season with a 29-14 victory over Class 5 Parkview.

“It feels great to be 3-0, but we know that we have some very tough games ahead,” Holtzman said. “We need to continue to improve our execution in all phases of the game.”

Rich Hill at Santa Fe

ALMA — To say the inaugural season of 8-man football at Santa Fe has been a rough one would be an understatement.

After opening the season with a 60-6 I-70/CRC league loss at North Shelby, a state quarterfinalist a year ago, the Chiefs have been unable to get on the field to see what improvements they have made. Their scheduled second home game Friday was cancelled due to a COVID-19 case at Rich Hill-Hume.

Santa Fe (0-1) is hoping this week’s short trip across the river to Norborne-Hardin-Central won’t pose more difficulties.

Contact Chris Allen at callen@marshallnews.com

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