STORY BY KAYCIE TIMMONS
The Smith Center Redmen and the Thomas More Prep-Marian Monarchs began their 2019 football season on Friday, September 6th at Hubbard Stadium in Smith Center, KS. It was a typical season opener with first-game jitters, 19 total penalties, and obvious mistakes. However, Smith Center started its state-title defense with a 34-0 victory.
“I felt like we came out a little sluggish, but we need to start out hitting hard, finishing our blocks and holding our blocks longer,” said Smith Center senior, Colton Shoemaker.
TMP’s defense came out strong and made the Redmen work hard to score. Both teams remained scoreless throughout the first quarter. On the Redmen’s first drive, Jaden Atwood had a 52 yard carry to move the Redmen down the field. However, the Monarchs held the Redmen on a 4th and 2 to force a turnover on downs. Smith Center held TMP on their first drive, and after a short punt, took over on the TMP 37-yard line. Neither team was able to push past the opposing defense to generate much offense for the rest of the first quarter.
The Redmen were finally able to put a drive together early in the 2nd quarter. Starting at their own 24, they finished with a 31-yard touchdown run from Colton Shoemaker at the 9:54 mark. An extra point kick from Sergio Lambert put the Redmen up 7-0. On TMP’s following drive, they faked a punt from their own 29, and Bryce Seib ran the ball for a gain of 31 yards. The Redmen held on downs and took over with 5:55 left to go in the half. Smith Center spent the next 5 minutes working their way down the field and scored with just over a minute left, from a 15-yard carry by Colton Shoemaker. The PAT was no good leaving the Redmen up 13-0.
TMP found life on the following kickoff. Kade Harris had a long return to the Smith Center 35. After a personal foul penalty, the Monarchs started their drive at the 20 with 59 seconds of play left in the half. Quarterback Bryce Seib scrambled for a first down at the Smith Center 9 yard line with 22 seconds left. Seib then completed a pass to Jace Lang at the 5-yard line, but he was tackled and with no timeouts, the Monarchs were unable to stop the clock. As time ran out, Seib threw a desperate pass towards the end zone that was intercepted by Smith Center’s Mason Teselle, ending the half.
Smith Center gained control of the game in the 2nd half. Halfway through the 3rd quarter Trenton Colby scored with a 20-yard carry, and a PAT from Sergio Lambert put the Redmen up 20-0. To start the 4th quarter, Jaden Atwood broke away and ran 58 yards to score the Redmen’s fourth touchdown and increase the lead to 27-0. The Monarchs had many chances to decrease the lead but were never able to finish their drives.
With 5 minutes remaining in the game, the Redmen began their final drive of the game. Colby completed a 28-yard pass to Griffin Kugler, then Shoemaker had a 15 yard carry to move the Redmen down the field. Colby finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Kugler with 57 seconds left of game time. TMP was unable to answer in their last drive leaving the final score at 34-0.
Coming off back-to-back state titles, the Redmen have a lot of pressure to perform this year. Smith Center has many returning players to the team, but also many younger ones expected to step up and fill positions.
“We’ve had a lot of people that came back, that hadn’t played very much this year, a lot of young kids, so it wasn’t really surprising what happened the first half,” assistant coach Mike Rogers said. “Always in the first game, you have to work some things out. The kids did a good job of keeping their composure and they didn’t get too caught up in the moment with things that went wrong and we got things figured out better the second half.
“They always say you make the best improvement from the first game to the second game. I think we’ll find out when we watch film, there are a lot of things we can correct and get better at, and we’ll work hard next week to get that done.”
Next Friday, September 13, the Redmen will face the Norton Bluejays at home and the Monarchs face the Ellis Railroaders on the road.