Injuries Make Chieftain Playoff Hopes a Long Shot, Play at Attica Thu.
By REX ZIMMERMAN
South Barber’s chance to make the state playoffs took a big hit Friday night as the Pretty Prairie Bulldogs used their strong running game to pound out a 74-26 win.
It wasn’t so much that the Chieftains lost the game…they just started running out of players after a string of injuries this season that included both senior starters.
Coach Matt Cantrell and his squad are still alive for one of the two playoff spots from District 4, along with Caldwell and Pretty Prairie. With a 3-1 record, in fact, the Chieftains are still in second place, but face unbeaten Attica-Argonia this Thursday evening, October 29, in the final regular season game. They need to stay close to the Titans to have a chance., and some help from Norwich and South Haven in their games against Caldwell and Pretty Prairie this week couldn’t hurt, either.
Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. this Thursday night at Attica.
Chiefs in Hole Early
After losing senior Kolton Pavlu to a leg injury earlier this season, the Chieftains also faced Pretty Prairie without their other starting senior, Tyler Martin, who was out with a hand injury. That spelled trouble against the Bulldog running attack, which featured a 230 lb. fullback.
Pretty Prairie wasted little time in taking control of the game as they scored on their first two possessions to take a quick 16-0 lead. But South Barber wasn’t giving up that easily, especially on Parent’s Night.
Junior quarterback Grant Cantrell led the team downfield with short runs by sophomore Trae Rathgeber and freshman Neal Gugelmeyer, then ripped off a nice third-and-long run to set his team up deep in Bulldog territory. Cantrell then found Rathgeber open for a short 7-yard scoring pass to close the lead to 16-6.
The Chieftains put more points on the scoreboard on their next possession spearheaded by a nice 4th down run by Neal Gugelmeyer deep in Bulldog territory. Cantrell then got good blocking up front and tossed a short pass to freshman Cole Coggins open for an 11-yard score. The second half was marred, however, by an injury to Gugelmeyer that sidelined him for the remainder of the game.
A couple of long Pretty Prairie scoring runs gave the visitors a 38-12 lead at halftime.
Chieftains Continue to Battle
Any sign that the Chieftains were giving up easily were quickly erased at the beginning of the second half as junior kick returner Gavin Doherty sprinted ?? yards with the opening kickoff to quickly make it a 20-point game.
But with players out and many others playing through their own pain, the bigger, deeper Bulldogs started to put the game out of reach. Two long touchdown plays put Pretty Prairie on top 52-18.
The Chieftains were quite done yet, however, as they put together a 61-yard drive for their final points. Grant Cantrell had first down passes to Gavin Doherty and junior Brian Farney. The drive was kept alive by a 4th down pass from Cantrell to Doherty down to the Pretty Prairie 12 yard line. A short pass to Trae Rathgeber took the ball to the 5, then Cantrell tossed a short pass to Farney for the touchdown. Cantrell ran for the extra points for a 52-26 score.
The Bulldogs used another long run to boost the score to 60-26 late in the third quarter. Forced to use all four downs rather than punt, the Chieftains gave Pretty Prairie a short field on their final possession, and they answered with a final short touchdown pass to end the game 68-26 early in the final period.
South Barber quarterback Grant Cantrell was 17 of 35 passing for 138 yards while he carried the ball 26 times for 60 yards. Trae Rathgeber was top receiver with 8 catches for 62 yards followed by Brian Farney with 2 receptions for 23 yards and Gavin Doherty 2 catches for 22 yards. Spencer Kimmell had 2 catches for 16 yards, Cole Coggins one reception for 11 yards and Neal Gugelmeyer caught two passes for 4 yards and carried the ball 7 times for 29 yards.
Defensive leaders were Gavin Doherty with 11 tackles, Spencer Kimmell and Cole Coggins with 9 each and Neal Gugelmeyer with 8 stops. Also on the tackle charts were Grant Cantrell, Brian Farney, Trae Rathgeber, Ruben Torres, Kolby Pavlu and Joseph Bowden.