Salina South Cougar fans are ready to brave the cold, and head south to Wichita to cheer for their team. At stake is a berth in the state championship game.
It will be cold and blustery at Cessna Stadium as the Cougars play the Kapaun Mt. Carmel Crusaders, and by game time the temperature will be in the upper 20s, with a much colder wind chill.
For those not making the trip, they can listen on the radio, or online.
We’ll have coverage of tonight’s Salina South vs. Kapaun Mt. Carmel football game, with pregame coverage at 6:50 and kickoff at 7 on Y93.7 FM.
Before that, we’ll go a little more in-depth on the Cougars and Crusaders during Inside High School Football on SportsRadio 1150 KSAL. We’ll start Inside High School Football at 6 o’clock on KSAL.
You can also listen online at www.ksal.com.
The Salina South Cougars are in the state semifinals for the second straight year, and are looking to return to the state championship game for the first time since winning it all in 2004.
Last year, the Cougars fell short when they met eventual state champion Bishop Carroll in the semifinals on the west side of Wichita. While the Cougars hung around for a half, Carroll pulled away in the second half for the 45-21 win.
This year, the Cougars have already earned their redemption against Carroll, ending the defending champions’ playoff run and a 23-game winning streak during a 21-19 win at Carroll last week. However, the Catholic school from the east side of Wichita now stands in Salina South’s way.
Kapaun ruined a potential Battle of Salina in the semifinals when the Crusaders rallied for a 44-42 win over Salina Central last week. Quarterback Brock Monty is just a sophomore, but is an explosive runner, accounting for over 500 yards on the ground this year. The Crusaders also turn to fullback Ethan Harp, who had four touchdowns last week and has 13 on the season, and running backs Devin Dempsey and Alexander Norris. When the Crusaders throw the ball, Monty completes passes at about a 50 percent clip, with his favorite targets being Jack McGrath and Dempsey.
Defensively, the Crusaders bring a 3-3 stack to the game, starting eight seniors. The defense has been dominant at times, limiting the first five opponents to under 15 points. However, there have been some cracks since. Over the last three games, the Crusaders have given up over half their season point total, surrendering 117 of their 222 points allowed to Andover Central (35 points), Liberal (40) and Salina Central (42).
The Cougars hope they are healthy for tonight’s showdown. Quarterback Justin Stonebraker injured an ankle in last week’s win over Carroll, limiting the South offense in the second half. In good news, the Cougars have back-up quarterback Dalton Wassenberg available for the first time in several weeks.
South’s defense seems to be playing at its peak right now. The Cougars have given up just 593 yards over the last three weeks in wins over Great Bend, Wichita West and Bishop Carroll. Last week, the Cougars gave up 169 yards to Carroll before the Eagles gained 67 yards on their final drive.
Tonight, one of two things will happen: either Salina South’s seniors will realize their dream of playing for a state championship, or Kapaun will return to the championship for the first time since the program’s glory days in the 1970’s and 80’s.
Class 5A No. 4 Salina South Cougars (9-2) at Kapaun Mt. Carmel (10-1), Y93.7, pregame 6:50, kickoff 7:00
Play-by-play: Mike Hammett. Analysts: Dan Flemming, Justin Dean. Sideline: Todd Pittenger.