Holton football coach Brooks Barta had a plan to stop the vaunted pass attack of Mulvane and quarterback Ty Redington.
All it involved was playing smart and never letting Mulvane get comfortable.
“We knew that if we set in one thing they would pick us apart and figure out what we are doing,” Barta said. “We have a really intelligent group of kids. We probably changed our coverage eight or nine times during the game just to give them some different looks.”
The plan worked so well that Holton (13-0) cruised past Mulvane (11-2) in the Class 4A semifinals, 28-6.
Holton will play Eudora for the 4A state title next Saturday in Salina.
“We got beat by a better football team tonight,” Mulvane coach Dave Fennewald said. “Tonight they were better than the Mulvane Wildcats. First quarter I thought was huge — they are jumping on that 14-point lead like that.”
Mulvane entered the contest having shutout its last two opponents, and three of its last four. But Holton proved to be too physical for the Mulvane defense early on.
Holton, known for its grind-it-out, physical rushing attack, was just that. The Holton offense marched 54 yards in 12 plays on its first possession, the first 11 plays being runs.
The drive ended when Holton quarterback Jaxon Wright threw one of his two passes in the game, this one a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Burdiek.
The rest of the night Mulvane saw a heavy dose of Holton running backs Cameron Karn and Chase Wilson, which combined for 195 rushing yards.
“Our line… they played tremendous,” Karn said. “They opened up some holes for us and we just executed really well tonight.”
Karn led the way with 124 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns, and even had an interception late in the fourth quarter.
“Cameron (Karn) has probably played the five best games of his career in the last five weeks. I think he would give credit to the guys in front of him,” Barta said. “He really put his shoulder pads down and ran the ball up in there hard.”
Mulvane was held to 55 yards on the ground, and didn’t score until late in the fourth quarter. Redington threw for 156 yards, but most of that came on the final possession.
“Their front four really dominated the game. They would drop seven into coverage and we were just unable to run the ball against that front four,” Fennewald said. “When you can drop seven into coverage and still stop the run, it’s pretty hard to throw and complete passes.”
Any season-ending loss is emotional, but this especially struck home for Fennewald. This senior class is among the winningest in school history, and includes Fennewald’s son, Kolby, a defensive back.
“It’s awfully hard, especially when you have a son in that class. It’s been awfully emotional for him,” Fennewald said. “They are a great bunch and I love them to death. They are going to be a hard bunch to replace. A great, great bunch of kids.”
H—Burdiek 19 pass from Wright (Hampton kick)
H—Karn 19 run (Hampton kick)
H—Karn 6 run (Hampton kick)
H—Lassiter 1 run (Hampton kick)
M—Smith 38 pass from Redington (kick fail)