Smithville banks St. Joseph Benton
By Bill Knust PrepsKC staff writer
In a game where both defenses proved stiff opposition for the opposing offense, Smithville had just enough to outlast St. Joseph Benton. The Warriors moved on in the Class 4 District 8 tournament with a 17-0 win against the Cardinals.
Smithville never let Benton’s offense get going, holding them to 83 total yards and only eight plays gained six yards or more – three of them coming in the waning moments of the game.
“Defensively, we knew they were going to come in and try and run the football,” Smithville linebacker Jake Boyd said. “They were going to try and run it a lot more than the first time we played them. We worked all week on reading keys and playing downhill, the linebackers especially. We all made good plays on defense. We played lights out.”
Smithville nursed a 3-0 lead into the fourth quarter on a 23-yard field goal from Ben Keesee with 8 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the second quarter. However, Benton never threatened. They finally crossed into Warriors’ territory on their final drive of the game.
“The whole first half the defense played amazing,” Boyd said. “Coming in at halftime, we were only up 3-0, but we still felt confident because we only gave up one big play.”
Smithville finally made it a two-score game, 10-0, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, as Boyd took a snap from the Wildcat formation and crashed in from 2 yards out on a fourth-down play. The touchdown capped off a 12-play drive that covered 47 yards.
“The first game we played against them (earlier this year) was a really tight ballgame until we wore them down late in the third quarter,” Smithville coach Jason Ambroson said. “We just kind of took it over physically. Tonight was a little different. They gave us a different look defensively, and we didn’t handle it really well. That’s on us, but I am going to give their kids credit, too. They played hard. They didn’t want their season to end, either. I don’t care who you are or where you play, in the game of football it is hard to beat anybody twice.”
After forcing another pair of three-and-outs, Smithville’s offense put the game away, getting a couple of key receptions from receiver Garrett Miller. His second was the most important, hauling in a 10-yard reception on 3rd down and 5. Boyd scored from 11 yards out on the next play to provide the final 17-0 score.
Boyd finished the game with 71 yards on 26 rushes and two scores.
The Warriors will now face No. 2-seed Platte County in the district semifinals next week. The Pirates ended the Warriors season a year ago. Smithville knows it will need a strong all-around effort, led by its defense, to come out on top.
“Our defense has been our strong suit all year long,” Ambroson said. “We knew it would have to be that way with as many young kids as we had. We knew we needed to control the ball on offense and not turn it over. Out of all the teams in Class 4, we had the No. 1 scoring defense in the regular season. That is because we try to play team football. The kids rally around that and give great effort.”
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