HAYS — After 79 consecutive victories, a team finally found a way to thwart Smith Center's dominance.
Centralia (13-1) turned the Redmen's strength against them Saturday, using a strong rushing game and capitalizing on Smith Center mistakes for a 20-12 overtime victory that denied the Redmen (12-1) their sixth consecutive title and ended the nation's longest current high school football winning streak, and the record in Kansas.
Panthers senior quarterback Tyler Glatczak, facing second down at the 9-yard line in overtime, saw daylight up the middle and just made it across the goal line. He then hooked up with his sophomore brother Michael for a two-point conversion pass that turned up the heat on Smith Center.
It was then Smith Center's turn on offense, but on the first play senior running back Colt Rogers fumbled and Centralia's Tyler Gleason fell on the ball, sealing the Panthers' first state championship.
"It's over," Redmen coach Roger Barta said. "We played 80 teams and finally there was one that got us."
That Centralia managed to do it by using the run game — Smith Center's principal weapon — was a key, Barta said.
"They were good on the offensive line," Barta said. "They were big, strong and physical. We couldn't stay on our blocks very well.
"It's been a long streak. We'll take Sunday off, and Monday we'll start on a new one. We've got to get ready for the next game now."
Smith Center's offense seemed listless against the Panthers, who held Redmen running backs Rogers (1,780 yards and 25 touchdowns this season) and Matt Atwood (1,024 rushing yards) to 40 and 32 yards, respectively. Rogers also fumbled three times.
The Panthers (13-1) scored first and retook the lead in the second half, but Timor Schubart's second field goal of the game, with 49 seconds left in regulation, pulled Smith Center into a 12-12 tie.
Barta said he considered trying for a go-ahead touchdown with fourth-and-2 at the Centralia 12 with less than a minute to play.
"I thought we had a chance in overtime," Barta said. "I thought about it, but it was fairly long and we weren't very consistent on anything that would pick up yardage. We thought we had a chance in overtime."
But Saturday, overtime was Centralia's domain. In the week leading up to Saturday's game, Panthers coach Larry Glatczak told his team that they couldn't do anything about the Redmen's streak, that they only had to be concerned with Saturday's game.
"They intimidate you, and they have a reason to, because they've won 79 in a row," Larry Glatczak said. "Our kids don't worry about that. We're a bunch of small-town farm kids, we don't get intimidated. We don't do that.
"Last week, everybody was talking about 'The Streak, The Streak, The Streak.' Well, you know what? We have nothing to do with the past, all we can do is play one game on Saturday, and that's what we focused on — playing them in one game and beating them."
Glatczak said one of the keys was that the Panthers stayed focused, even facing the prospect of overtime.
"I told them (at the start of overtime), 'Hey guys, we've got them right where we want them.' "
Michael Glatczak had a hand in two of Centralia's touchdowns, in addition to the conversion reception. He picked a fumble out of the air at the 12 and ran it in for the Panthers' first score in the first quarter. Then, with 28 seconds to play in the third quarter and Centralia trailing 9-6, he lined up on the right side, took the ball on a reverse and ran it in from 8 yards out.
"I knew it would be open, and sure enough it was," he said.
Michael Glatczak said that the state title had been the Panthers' goal from the beginning of practice. But to get there, Centralia had to beat both perennial 2-1A powers Smith Center and Pittsburg Colgan.
"From the beginning, everybody was thinking 'Smith Center, Smith Center,' " he said. "And I knew we could do it."
Despite the streak ending, Barta expressed optimism that the Redmen's dominance can be regained.
"We played a lot of young kids this year," Barta said. "We'll be all right next year. I feel bad about it for our seniors."
Smith Center (12-1) 0 9 0 3 0 — 12 Centralia (13-1) 6 0 6 0 8 — 0
Cent—M. Glatczak 12 fumble recovery (run failed)
SC—Schubart FG 25
SC—Stansbury 13 run (kick failed)
Cent—M. Glatczak 8 run (pass failed)
SC—Schubart FG 30
Cent—T. Glatczak 9 run (M. Glatczak pass from T. Glatczak)
Rushing—Smith Center, Rogers 20-32, Atwood 13-40, Stansbury 4-24, T. Kuhlmann 3-15. Centralia, P. Steinlage 19-81, T. Glatczak 13-50, Gleason 4-9, Ka. Talkington 4-9, M. Glatczak 1-8.
Passing—Smith Center, Stansbury 3-4-34-0. Centralia, T. Glatczak 4-12-48-1.
Receiving—Smith Center, Rogers 2-28, Corbett 1-6. Centralia, M. Glatczak 3-39, Ka. Talkington 1-9.