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  • Southwest Preps

Meade one win away from 5th State Football title

It's been a solid fall sports season for Meade High School.

Their volleyball team - playing as a co-op with Fowler - did very well, although their season ended at Sub-State, and the boys cross country team capped off another solid running season with their second straight state title.

But their football team is the lone Southwestern Kansas still alive in the fall sports season, and stands one win away from the school's fifth football title.

The No. 2 Buffaloes (12-0) will meet defending state champion Little River (12-0) for the 8-Man Division I state championship on Saturday in Newton. Kickoff is set for 11 am at Newton-Fischer Field.

Meads is seeking its fifth overall football title, and their first since winning the Class 2-1A championship in 2012. The also won the 2-1A title in 2010, the Class 2A title in 1980, and the 2A title in 1972 - the last published time, according to what we can access from the Kansas High School Activities Association website, the last time a Meade team was 12-0.

Without knowing the record of the 1980 squad, this may be the first time that the Buffaloes can finish unbeaten since 1972, and set a record for most wins in school history if they can pull off the victory on Saturday.

The Buffaloes have won 14 in a row, and have spent much of this season on top of their opponents. Until their 48-34 win over Hill City last week in the semifinals, the Buffaloes have blown out their opponents, with only a 40-20 win over South Central, and their 49-24 win over Wichita County - who played in the final last season before falling to Little River - coming close to being a game.

Meade has outscored their opponents, 615-144, and holding a 226-68 advantage in the postseason.

The Buffaloes lean on their ground attack, with seniors Korben Clawson and Torren Haynes leading the way. Clausen has 1,812 yards and 31 rushing TDs, while Haynes, who is the team's quarterback, has rushed for 1,226 yards and added 21 TDs, plus has another 1,416 yards and 18 TDs passing.

When Haynes takes to the air, which he completes 62.1 percent of his passes, he leans on junior Grayden Stapelton (32 catches, 633 yards, 12 TDs) and sophomore Brock Keith (22 catches, 508 yards, 4 TDs).

The Buffaloes have also leaned on their defense. Junior Braden Norris (117 total tackles) and Clawson (100 tackles) lead the defense. Norris leads the team with 10 tackles for loss (4 sacks) and chipped in with five fumble recoveries, while senior Cullen Lumry leads the team with six sacks. The defense has also forced 31 total takeaways, led by senior Zach Volden's six fumble recoveries and Stapelton's four interceptions.

Little River is looking to defend their title won last season against Wichita County. They are 4-0 in one-score games this season, and their winning streak entering Saturday stands at 20 straight games. In their last three postseason contest, they have trailed, including by two scores to state power Canton-Galva before winning a wild 76-68 game in the semifinals.

The Redskins scored 42 points in the fourth quarter in that semifinal win, and was the second straight week in which they trailed by two scores in the fourth quarter to win.

Little River may be without its starting quarterback, as Rylan Konen was injured in the second half, but they have a capable backup in place in Braxton Lafferty.

Lafferty leads the Redskins in rushing with 1,362 yards and 265 rushing TDs, plus another 251 yards and seven TDs receiving. Konen (899 yards, 19 TDs rushing and two more TDs receiving) provides a big support in the ground game, but if he can't go, it will provide opportunities for both Braden Young (376 yards, 8 TDs) and Grant Stephens (326 rushing yards, 8 TDs).

By the way, all of those before-mentioned Indians are juniors.

The Indians have outscored their opponents, 621-222, this season, but have had three close calls in the playoffs. The trailed 14-0 early to Burlingame - before winning, 42-26 - then trailed by two scores late to both Madison (won 38-32) and Canton-Galva before winning their way back to the title game.

Little River's defense has forced 23 turnovers and the team has a plus-13 turnover ratio. Meade enters Saturday's tilt with a plus-24 turnover ratio.

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