Win Friday and Chieftains Make Playoffs
By REX ZIMMERMAN
Running and defense. The South Barber made a big statement Friday night as the Chieftains withstood Caldwell’s homecoming excitement and big plays to roll up a 60-36 victory in 8-man Div. II District 4 action. The win gives Coach Matt Cantrell and his squad a 6-1 overall record and 3-0 in district play with two big games left.
This Friday night, the Chieftains host Pretty Prairie in the biggest game of the season so far. The Bulldogs were unbeaten heading into district play, but losses to Attica/Argonia and Caldwell the past two weeks have them in a “must win” position.
Unbeaten Attica/Argonia leads the district points race with the Chieftains right behind. A win by South Barber Friday night would lock up one of the two playoff spots from District 4 and set up a showdown with the state-ranked AA Titans for the district title on the final game of the regular season. A loss to Pretty Prairie, meanwhile, would send the playoffs into a battle of points that wouldn’t be decided until the final games were completed.
Kickoff this Friday night is 7:00 p.m. and there should be a real playoff atmosphere as only 8-man football can provide. Chieftain fans are encouraged to fill the stands and help the team get back into the playoffs.
Ground Game Starts Strong
South Barber set the tone for the game early in the first quarter as the defense quickly forced a Bluejay punt, then used runs by quarterback Grant Cantrell, Neal Gugelmeyer and Trae Rathgeber to pound the ball to the Caldwell 3 yard line. Gugelmeyer carried the ball in for the touchdown and with the extra point the Chieftains were on top 8-0.
That didn’t last long as the Bluejays, known for their big play ability, took the following kickoff all the way back for a score to trail just 8-6 after the missed extra points try.
Taking over on their own 26, South Barber went back to work with more runs by Rathgeber, Gugelmeyer and Cantrell to steadily moved downfield. A pass to junior Spencer Kimmell took the ball to the Bluejay 10, and Neal Gugelmeyer scored his second TD on the next play. The extra points try failed but the Chiefs were on top 14-6.
After another stop by the defense, the Chieftain offense had a 3rd and 8 play near midfield when Grant Cantrell found Gugelmeyer open over the middle. The freshman receiver made the catch and rambled 31 yards to the Bluejay 10. A short pass to freshman Cole Coggins and a penalty put the ball on the 1 yard line, and Cantrell carried it in for a 20-6 lead early in the second period.
A tough run defense set up the next South Barber score as Caldwell was forced to go to its passing game and was quickly intercepted by Neal Gugelmeyer. A 24 yard scramble by Cantrell moved the ball to the Bluejay 16 and scored a few plays later on a 4 yard run for a 26-6 lead after the extra points again were no good.
But Caldwell was far from done. After taking the kickoff near midfield, it took just two plays for the Bluejays to score to close the score to 26-14. Back came South Barber with another dose of Cantrell, Gugelmeyer and Rathgeber, who combined to moved the ball downfield to the Caldwell 5. On a third down play, Cantrell sprinted around end for the score and passed to junior Gavin Doherty for the extra points and 34-14 lead with just seconds left in the second quarter.
That was enough for Caldwell, however, as they threw a long pass into the endzone on the last play of the half that tightened the score at 34-22 at the break.
Bluejays Keep it Close
Several Chieftains were nursing injuries Friday night, but stepping up were players like Brian Farney, Cole Coggins and Ruben Torres who, along with senior standout Tyler Martin, held Caldwell out of the endzone early in the third quarter of play. But the Bluejays used a big 4th down touchdown run and extra points to make it a 34-30 game late in the period.
South Barber answered right back on a 28 yard run to the Caldwell 6 by Grant Cantrell. A penalty set the ball back to the 12, but Trae Rathgeber carried to the 2 and on 3rd and goal Cantrell carried in for the touchdown for a 40-30 lead as time ran out in the 3rd quarter.
All Chieftains in 4th Quarter
South Barber’s defense stopped Caldwell on downs to start the final period, then the offense used a run by Trae Rathgeber and pass to Gavin Doherty to set up a 1st and goal at the Bluejay 10. Next play, Cantrell took it in for the touchdown and scored the points after for a 48-30 Chieftain lead.
Caldwell fought back with a long pass followed by a 14 yard touchdown run to make it a 48-36 score, but that was it for the Bluejays.
Grant Cantrell ripped off three nice runs to set up a first down on the Bluejay 5 and on third down he pounded over for the TD for a 54-36 lead.
With just a couple minutes left in the game. the Chieftain defense again held Caldwell on downs and the offense started working time off the clock. On a fourth down play, Cantrell found Spencer Kimmell open for a touchdown pass for a 60-36 lead.
A final Bluejay drive was highlighted by a big quarterback sack by Tyler Martin and a pass interception by Trae Rathgeber to end the game.
Grant Cantrell was 10 of 14 passing for 129 yards and rolled up a whopping 220 yards rushing on 44 carries and 6 touchdowns. Spencer Kimmell had 3 pass receptions for 54 yards and Cole Coggins had 2 catches for 17 yards. Neal Gugelmeyer caught one pass for 30 yards, Gavin Doherty 2 passes for 15 yards and Trae Rathgeber had two receptions for 13 yards.
Neal Gugelmeyer had 14 carries for 76 yards and Trae Rathgeber had 12 runs for 38 yards.
Spencer Kimmell had 10 total tackles and assists followed by Grant Cantrell and Tyler Martin with 8 tackles each. Ruben Torres had 5 stops followed by Brian Farney with 4, Trae Rathgeber 3, Kadin Banks with 2, and Gavin Doherty, Cole Coggins and Kolby Pavlu with 1 tackle each. Neal Gugelmeyer and Trae Rathgeber each had a pass interception.