Maize South students gathered near the north end of the Mavericks' football field, chanting "Pfeifer, Pfeifer, Pfeifer" as coach Brent Pfeifer walked off the field Thursday night.
Normally such a reception would be reserved for a coach after a win — Andale defeated Maize South 25-13 in the Class 4A-District 12 finale — but the cheers for Pfeifer were deserved.
Despite the loss, Maize South, a second-year school, advanced to the 4A playoffs. Andale finished 3-0 in District 12 to win its ninth straight district title, while Cheney, Trinity Academy and Maize South were 1-2. Maize South won the points tiebreaker.
"Last year, all the traveling we did and all the adversity we went through.. "Pfeifer said, pausing. "I think you see (the difference) on the field. It's fun to watch."
Maize South (4-5), in its first season playing in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail Division IV, won two games in 2009.
When Andale coach Gary O'Hair was told the Mavericks advanced, he was pleased.
"Well, fantastic," said O'Hair, whose team is 8-1 and ranked fourth in 4A. "They ought to be. They are playing good football."
Especially defensively. In the first half, Maize South forced three interceptions and Cayden Good recovered an Andale fumble, returning it 27 yards for the game's first touchdown.
"We've got some seniors on defense, in the linebacker corps, Nehemiah Scott, Cayden Good, they're just fantastic," Pfeifer said. "Unbelievable to watch."
It was the only turnover Maize South capitalized on.
On Andale's fourth possession, Jake Hattabaugh capped a 10-play drive with a five-yard touchdown run, tying the score at 7-7. Hattabaugh had four touchdowns and had 193 rushing yards on 37 carries.
"Offensively, we rode him hard and then we put him in there on defense on the line of scrimmage to let him penetrate because he's so explosive and so quick off the ball," O'Hair said.
In the final 2:15 with Andale leading 19-13, the Indians' Ryan Horsch intercepted Dukes, and Hattabaugh scored one play later. It still took a defensive stand, though, for Andale to seal the victory.
Andale had six sacks, three by Trent Horsch and two by Allen Trent, and held Maize South to 143 offensive yards.
"We were coming off the ball as hard as we could," Trent said. "Everybody was doing their part, and I guess we shut them down."
Andale (8-1, 3-0) 0 7 6 12 — 25 Maize South (4-5, 1-2) 0 7 6 0 — 13
MS—Good 27 fumble return (Calvert kick)
A—Hattabaugh 5 run (Hattabaugh kick)
A—Hattabaugh 30 run (miss kick)
MS—Thurman 15 pass from Dukes (miss kick)
A—Hattabaugh 10 run (pass failed)
A—Hattabaugh 4 run (run failed)
Rushing—Andale, Hattabaugh 37-193, Horsch 4-25, O'Hair 6-11, King 6-7, Staats 2-7. Maize South, Scott 13-48, Wondra 3-23, Rogers 3-11, Dukes 15-4.
Passing—Andale, King 1-4-(-1)-2, Hattabaugh 1-3-9-1. Maize South, Dukes 7-20-57-2.
Receiving—Andale, Hawkins 1-9, Martin 1-(-1). Maize South Wondrna 2-18, Rogers 1-11, Nibarger 1-7, Phillips 2-6.