‘Hounds pound ground, earn Class 1 District 5 Finals birth
Semifinal — Class 1 District 5 Tournament — Slater HS
Sweet Spgs 44
The second-seeded Sweet Springs High School Greyhounds football team traveled to Slater High School for a Class 1 District 5 Tournament semifinal matchup with the second-seeded Wildcats, and they did not disappoint, silencing the home crowd early and staying strong to finish out a 44-32 upset victory.
The ‘Hounds got the scoring started early when senior Hunter Sims punched in a touchdown run from the goalline, and a successive 2pt conversion run from Sims set the pace with an 8-0 lead less than two minutes in.
They would score more before there was a rebuttal, as Sims scampered for another 14-yard rushing touchdown with about four minutes left in the first quarter and followed it with another 2pt conversion, driving the score to 16-0.
A Slater touchdown with a failed point-after attempt put Slater on the scoreboard shortly before the first quarter turned over, but a pair of Sweet Springs touchdowns (sophomore Zapher Lea, six-yard pass from Sims, failed 2pt conversion; junior Wade Phillips 15-yard pass from Sims, converted 2-pt conversion on Sims rush) sandwiched a Slater touchdown in the second quarter and extended their lead even further, 30-14.
The teams would exchange touchdowns throughout the third quarter, with Sims and junior Grant Knipmeyer sealing the deal for the ‘Hounds from six and seven yards out, respectively.
A Wildcats touchdown early into the fourth quarter clock would move the score to 44-32, but the ‘Hounds would keep them off the board for the rest of the matchup, earning themselves the victory and a date with one-seed Marceline HS for the Class 1 District 5 Championship.
Sims and the Greyhounds were efficient through the air, completing 5/10 attempts for 48 yards and two touchdowns, but per usual, they were practically unstoppable on the ground.
Sweet Springs rushers tallied a whopping 505 yards on 60 carries, with Knipmeyer (18 carries, 177 yards, one touchdown) and Sims (23 carries, 155 yards, two touchdowns) posting video game-esque stats with the rock in their hands.
Sophomore Cole Lovercamp and senior Jacob Hall also had excellent games in complimentary roles rushing, with Lovercamp bringing nine carries 88 yards and Hall earning 78 yards in his seven attempts. Hall also received the other three Sweet Springs completions, hauling in three passes for 27 yards.
A big key to victory for the Greyhounds was abusing a Slater offensive line that had to pass protect more than they would have liked to due to game flow. They were good through the air, (12/24 passing, 270 yards, no interceptions, three touchdowns -- all in the second half) but seemingly didn’t commit to the passing game until they had too much ground to make up. This could be because of a few mismatches in the trenches, as senior Branden Green (1.5 sacks, one QB pressure), junior Tyler Bernard (seven solo tackles, one sack, one QB pressure), and Knipmeyer (0.5 sacks, two QB pressures) all got after the quarterback often. Hall also was busy defensively, finishing with eight tackles.
Sweet Springs advances to 9-3 on the season. They will have their first crack at Marceline HS in program history this upcoming week, with the winner advancing to the Class 1 State Quarterfinals and a matchup with the victor of Class 1 District 6’s championship game, one-seed Brentwood HS (8-5) and two-seed South Callaway HS (7-6). SCHS is coming off of a narrow 43-36 victory over South Shelby HS, while Brentwood has advanced through the tournament by outscoring opponents 43-0 and 41-0.
Slater ends their season at 8-5.
Sweet Springs faithful will have to travel to Marceline for the matchup, scheduled for this Friday night.