How ‘bout them Bluejays!

The Sabetha Bluejay football team celebrates after beating Marysville in the 3A State Championship game on Saturday, November 25, in Hutchinson. Sabetha won 7-6.

Unfinished business is how the Bluejays approached the final game of the 2017 campaign when they met the Marysville Bulldogs in the State Finals on Saturday, Nov. 25, at Hutchinson Community College.

Both underdog teams, with matching 12-1 records, defied the odds and rose to the occasion to knock off juggernaut squads in the playoffs, earning a berth in the championship game.

An epic battle of conflicting offensive philosophies made for nerve-shattering, edge-of-seats viewing from both sides of the stadium. In thrilling fashion, defense and kicking won the contest, with the Jays inking their mark in 3A high school football history with a 7-6 victory over the Bulldogs.

Th 2017 Sabetha Bluejay football coaches smile for a photo after the team defeated Marysville, 7-6, in the 3A State Championship football game in Hutchinson on Saturday, November 25.

The Jays won the toss and deferred to the second half, and the Bulldogs received the kick to start the contest. Marysville’s spread offense chipped away at the Bluejay defense and marched into Sabetha territory for the first six plays of the game, but safety Joseph Gruber intercepted Bulldog quarterback Jack Blumer’s pass and returned it to his team’s 40, blunting the drive.

Sabetha’s first drive culminated with a three and out, but the ensuing punt snap was high and the punter, Gruber, had to run the errant punt attempt.

The Sabetha Bluejay football team celebrate after beating Marysville in the 3A State Championship game on Saturday, November 25, in Hutchinson. Sabetha won 7-6.

The Bulldogs took over on the Jay 40-yard line, but the selfish Sabetha defense stalled the drive on the 17, and the Jays took over on downs.

The Bluejays struggled to establish their running game that had been key to their success for the entire season. Total offensive stats in the first half for the Jays proved that point, with the Bulldogs defense allowing just 54 yards in the first two quarters, with Gabe Garber logging 34 of those.

“Marysville did a good job of taking some things away that we like to do, and had good enough athletes to execute that,” said Assistant Coach Nathan Bauman. “It was rough sledding the whole game.”

Marysville had success with their passing game but struggled to punch it into the end zone on all but one attempt. After a Sabetha punt was blocked deep in their own territory, the Bulldogs took over on the Jay 32 with two minutes to play in the half.

Four plays later, Blumer connected with receiver Gabe Pieschl from 16 yards out with one minute to play in the half. The two-point conversion was stuffed, but Marysville took a 6-0 advantage into the locker room at the break.

The Bulldogs’ time of possession in the first half was almost 17 minutes compared to the Bluejays’ 6 minutes, and they logged 156 yards of total offense in the first two quarters with 103 of those coming through their passing game.

A high, short kick gave Sabetha field possession near midfield to start the second half.

“We made a small adjustment to our game plan at halftime and that worked well enough for one drive,” Bauman said.

The Jays chipped away at the Marysville defense, picking up chunks of yardage mostly on the heels of Joseph Gruber, who gained 30 plus yards on the drive.

But it was Wyatt Beyer who found the end zone from 8 yards out, and at 9:35 of the third frame the score was knotted at 6-6. Braeden Cox gave his team the first lead of the contest with the P.A.T. kick, which sailed perfectly through the uprights.

The 2017 Sabetha Bluejay football team smiles for a photo with their 3A State Champion plaque on Saturday, November 25, after defeating Marysville 7-6 in Hutchinson.

After this drive, both teams struggled to find many yards offensively in the second half, with the Bulldogs turning it over on downs on their next possession and Sabetha being forced to punt on their following series.

The Jays held their lead through the end of the third quarter, but Marysville was marching to start the final period.

“We’ve talked about our ‘bend but don’t break defense’ and ‘6 yards is better than six points’ defensive philosophy,” Bauman said. “Marysville had the most talented offense that we’ve faced all year, and they did some things that were difficult to defend.”

On first down and 10 from the Sabetha 18, the Bulldogs looked like they were going to find holes in the Jay defense and regain the lead. But a fumble killed the drive with Gruber coming up with the loose ball on his team’s 13-yard line.

Sabetha pushed up to their own 23 but were forced to punt out of their own territory. Gruber’s punt was a boomer, and the Bulldogs started their drive from their own 30.

With 5:38 left in the game, Marysville started their drive and marched 63 yards on 17 plays, eating up precious time on the clock. With second and goal from Sabetha’s 7-yard line and 31 seconds left on the clock, Blumer took the snap, eyed his receiver and rifled the pass. Garber stepped in front of the pass for the interception to preserve the lead and the win.

Sabetha lined up in victory formation, took a pair of knees and sealed the 3A State Champion victory by a score of 7-6 in a thrilling, defensive battle.

The Bluejays finished with a 13-1 record and add their third state title in school history.

11.25.2017 State

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS

TAC

SKS

INT

FUM RCY

#      REC

REC  YDS

#         RU

RU YDS

Cole Oehn

10

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Joel Hackney

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

8

Joe Gruber

5

0

1

1

0

0

18

54

Ryan Stapleton

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Brandon Brownlee

6

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

Mason Engelken

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

-2

Wyatt Beyer

3

0

0

0

0

0

7

27

Kamden Brownlee

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Gabe Garber

12

0

1

0

0

0

6

34

Riley Herrmann

10

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Isaac Sunderland

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Cauy Rokey

12

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Trevor Kramer

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Kyle Grimm

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Elliot Strahm

8

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

TEAM TOTALS

SHS

MAR

FIRST DOWNS

10

22

THIRD DOWN CONV.

5/10

8/13

FOURTH DOWN CONV.

1/3

1/4

# RUSHES

37

30

RUSHING YARDS

121

107

RUSHING AVG. YARDS

3.3

3.6

PASSING YARDS

0

227

# COMPLETIONS

0

29

# PASSES

1

40

# INTERCEPTIONS

0

2

PUNTING YARDS

37.3

0

FUMBLES/LOST

0/0

1/1

PENALTIES/LOST YARDS

5/25

6/65

TOTAL OFFENSE

121

334

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