Yates Center secures playoffs with victory


November 1, 2013 - 12:00 AM

UNIONTOWN — Ben Wiehn almost felt like he was part of a Dickens novel Thursday evening.
 It was the best of times (the first half) and the worst of times (the second half) for Wiehn’s Yates Center High Wildcats.
A dominating first half saw the Wildcats lead host Uniontown High 38-14 in their pivotal regular season finale.
But everything that had been going right for Yates Center started going wrong after intermission.
The Eagles outscored Yates Center 22-0 after intermission, including a touchdown and two-point conversion with a minute left in regulation to cut the Wildcat lead to 38-36.
The comeback ended there.
Yates Center recovered Uniontown’s onside kick to secure the victory, and advance to the Kansas Eight Man, Division I playoffs — the school’s first postseason appearance on the gridiron in 23 years.
“That’s eight-man football for you,” Wiehn said. “We had people jumping around, and I couldn’t sleep after the game.”
Yates Center (6-3 overall and 4-1 in Eight Man I, District 2) doesn’t get much time to bask in its victory. The Wildcats will travel to Howard on Tuesday to take on undefeated West Elk, the same squad that toppled Yates Center, 52-6, in week 2.
While statistics were unavailable — Wiehn had yet to go over game film Friday — a familiar trio led the way on offense.
Caleb DeNoon, Austin McNett and Robert Arnold all played pivotal roles for the Wildcats, who led 24-0 after one quarter.
“We were able to do a good job in the first half, using our spread and pistol offense to move the ball,” Wiehn said.
Aside from a couple of big pass plays, the Wildcats weren’t allowing much on defense, either.
But a fumble at the Eagle 10 late in the half snuffed Yates Center’s final scoring drive.
And the Wildcats lost two defensive starters in the second half, one to injury, the other to illness.
“We had a couple of younger players who did all they could, and we were hoping Uniontown wouldn’t notice, but they did,” Wiehn said. “When you have a freshman who’s all of 5-7 and 130 pounds trying to take on a lineman who’s 6-8 and 260, there’s not a lot you can do.”
The Eagles directed many of their plays straight at younger Wildcat defenders.
“Our defensive line was still doing a good job, but they were able to get to the corner and gain yardage that way,” Wiehn said. “Give Uniontown credit. They made the adjustments.”
 But credit also is warranted to the Wildcats, who did just enough to fend off the Eagle charge.
“This was one of our goals, to play on Halloween night in a game that meant something,” Wiehn said. “And we met another goal, to qualify for the playoffs. We knew we had a shot.”
The Uniontown game also should be a good primer for West Elk, Wiehn said, because both teams run the same type of offense.
“They run the I-formation, and they’ll take it right at you to set up their play action,” he said. “It was actually after our first West Elk game that we switched from a 3-3-2 to a 4-2-2 defense. We needed to have a defense that fit our personnel, and it’s worked for us.”

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