'It's not a secret to what they do': Rossville knows Beloit's game plan. Can the Dawgs stop them?

·5 min read
Rossville's Raphael Cooney (8) photobombs head coach Derick Hammes on Nov. 19 at Rossville High School.
Rossville's Raphael Cooney (8) photobombs head coach Derick Hammes on Nov. 19 at Rossville High School.

No. 1 seed Rossville (12-0) will play for the state championship in 2A at 1 p.m. Saturday when the Dawgs taken on No. 2 Beloit (9-3) at Salina District Stadium.

Rossville is on a 25-game win streak after going undefeated to win the 2A state title last year. Beloit fell in the state semifinals last year to Hoisington.

Rossville will be playing for its fifth state title, all under head coach Derick Hammes since he took over in 2013, while Beloit is looking for its fifth state title in program history. Beloit's last title came in 1996 when it went 12-1 and won the 3A state title.

We talked with both coaches to get their keys to the game for Saturday.

A look at the numbers

Points for: Rossville, 577; Beloit, 356.

Points against: Rossville, 99; Beloit, 159.

Total yards per game: Rossville, 409; Beloit, 299.33.

Passing yards per game: Rossville, 137.3; Beloit, 38.42.

Passing touchdowns: Rossville, 15; Beloit, 4.

Rushing yards per game: Rossville, 271.7; Beloit, 260.92.

Rushing touchdowns: Rossville, 57; Beloit, 42.

Turnovers forced: Rossville, 19; Beloit, 18.

Keys to the game

Rossville

Rossville ended the regular season with a record of 8-0.

They beat Republic County (56-0) in the opening round, Nemaha Central (32-12) in Regionals, Riverton (56-14) in Sectionals and Silver Lake (36-8) last week in Sub-States.

After playing three, 3A teams to start the season and losing to Southeast of Saline and Concordia to start the year, Beloit won four in a row before falling in the regular season finale in a close game to Hoisington.

In the post season, they've beaten two more quality teams in Cimarron and Kingman.

"I think offensively, they're running the ball really well," said head coach Hammes. "Their ability to get off the ball up front. It's not a secret to what they do. It's to their credit they do it anyway. That’s the mark of a good football team.

"On the defensive side, they don’t give up big plays. They cover space really well and tackle and are really long and athletic."

Benson Berndt leads Beloit with 274 carries for 1,832 yards and 25 touchdowns with Hammes complimentary of his vision, ability to make the first man miss and getting his shoulder pads down and finishing the run strong.

"They run it out of big personnel. Sometimes three backs in the backfield, sometimes two to three tight ends," said Hammes. "It's more complex than meets the eye with the added lineman, unbalanced line. They add a gap to the line a lot of the time, more than meets the eye, but it still boils down to getting off the ball and running hard."

Defensively, Beloit gives up just 89.75 passing yard per game and 89.42 rushing yards per game with Hammes pointing out the size and length of Beloit along with two defensive lineman that can break down run schemes because of their penetration into the backfield.

Hammes' keys to the game: When we have an opportunity, we have to take it. In this game, because it could be a possession game, a three and out could be a turnover for either one of us. When we're on defense, that could be big for us.

Offensively, we have to have productive possessions. Move the ball, get first downs, things like that. It's not up and down the field and score at will when you face good teams, our possessions have to be quality.

Beloit

Beloit ended the regular season with a record of 5-3.

They beat Lakin (53-6) in the opening round, Cimarron (51-6) in Regionals, Hillsboro (32-27) in Sectionals and Kingman (22-19) last week in substate.

Head coach Brad Gober pointed to the team's tough schedule early on, allowing them to find out their deficiencies and what they needed to do to get better.

"Early in the year we saw some things, we had to work on and fix if we wanted to play and beat good teams," said Gober. "We were able to do that and that’s a huge part of that success.

"Just making sure we fit everyone on defense where we were supposed to. On top of that, looking at our run game, we went under center this year and our power stuff, things hit a bit different than in the gun.

"The backs we're a feel for the offensive line and where the holes would actually be. How much movement we get up front compared to last year, just little intricacies in our offense. Once we got that figured out we really started to roll."

With two quality wins in the post season against Cimarron and Kingman, Gober pointed to the belief from the team this year combined with the youth last year that gained experienced when they lost in the semifinals to Hoisington.

Gober also pointed to other running backs stepping up with injuries, with Branson Hiserote running for 452 yards and four touchdowns and Logan Arasmith adding another 416 with six touchdowns.

Preparing for Rossville, Gober pointed out their speed on both sides of the ball.

"When you play teams like that, at any given point any given play can be taken to the house for a touchdown," said Gober. "We do really good on defense and fit well within what were trying to do on defense, make tackles in space. If we can do that, we’ll be alright."

"Good size up front on defense, their linebackers read very well," said Gober on the defense. "They just got speed all over the place. Plays that might go for 10 yards against other teams might go for three. They have so much speed that can make up for any mistake they might make."

Gober's keys to the game: We have to control the clock, we've got to manufacture long drives and keep their offense off the field. That’s the big thing, they're so dangerous. Control the clock, time of possession needs to be in our favor, we need to tackle well in space and not turn the ball over. If we can do those three things, we’ll be in a good position.

Contact Seth Kinker at skinker@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @SethKinker.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Rossville, Beloit ready for Kansas 2A state football championship game

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