Varsity Kansas

Rose Hill defense clamps down on Holton in first-round win

ROSE HILL — The Rose Hill offense is imposing. Quarterback Derrick Decker is a versatile athlete who can tear up a defense by running or passing. At running back there are plenty of options — Jonny Pearson, Hunter Lewis or Eastin Dockers. And the offensive line plays physical and smart.

But in Rose Hill’s 28-12 win over Holton in Tuesday’s Class 4A first-round playoff game, the Rockets’ offense got plenty of help from their defense.

The Rockets forced two Holton fumbles, got an interception, blocked a punt and forced the Wildcats to turn it over on downs four times.

“Our defense was outstanding,” Rose Hill coach Greg Slade said. “You knew they were going to run the ball. . . . We didn’t allow some things to happen tonight for their offense.”

Holton, ranked third in Class 4A, has a strong running game — Rob Riederer had a game-high 110 rushing yards — but Rose Hill gave up two plays of more than 10 yards.

“(Defensive) coach (Ray) Boese, definitely get his name in the paper,” said Decker, a quarterback and strong safety. “He’s done a great job preparing the team. Definitely he’s put so much time. He’s become, obsessed is his word, obsessed with film.” Decker was in on, seemingly, every defensive play. He deflected the attention. “We pursued really well,” he said. “Our linebackers did a great job tonight to come in there. All I did was just clean up whatever came out.” Decker, who had 98 passing yards and 59 rushing, opened the scoring by running 24 yards for a touchdown. After Caleb Braddy intercepted Holton’s Kennedy White, Decker connected with Dockers for a 33-yard touchdown. While Holton got within 14-6 after a Drake Ewing touchdown, the Wildcats fumbled away their next possession. Pearson then ran 11 yards for the score and the 21-6 lead. Pearson finished with 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

“Our defense forced some turnovers tonight that were huge and gave our offense opportunities to do some things,” Slade said.

Less than two minutes into the second half, Rose Hill’s Austin Shaffer blocked a Holton punt. The Rockets took over at the Holton 2, and Pearson scored for a 28-6 lead.

“They’re a really good football team, and we made a lot of mistakes,” Holton coach Brooks Barta said. “ . . . Rose Hill’s a really good team, and you can’t make those kinds of mistakes.”

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