After 43 seasons on the sidelines, Salina Sacred Heart Knight Football Coach Bruce Graber called it a career Friday night.
On a beautiful fall eveningt, the Republic County Buffaloes ended Sacred Heart’s season with a 35-10 win over the Knights. Immediately following the contest, Sacred Heart’s head coach Bruce Graber announced that after 43 seasons (including seven at Sacred Heart) he is retiring. Calling himself “very blessed”, Graber explained that it is a young man’s game and he’s grown tired after over four decades of doing a job he loves. He said he and his family, who he wants to spend more time with, made the decision back in June. “Our record this year had nothing to do with this. If we were 9-0 at this point in the season, the decision would have been the same.”
On the field, the Knights seemed out of sorts the entire game. Republic County received the opening kick-off, drove down the field and scored on quarterback Trey Kuhlman’s run of 7 yards. Meanwhile, the Knights first drive of the game would end with a “pick 6” when defensive back Justyn Stindt galloped 53 yards after intercepting an errant David Anderson pass. That made the score 14-0 with less than five minutes gone by. The Buffaloes never looked back.
Republic County increased their lead to 21 when running back Nicholas Allsman struck pay dirt on a 51 yard run midway through the second quarter. The Knights only points of the half came when Tristan Slagle booted a 22 yard field goal as time ran out.
Things went from bad to worse for Sacred Heart when the Knights fumbled the opening kick-off of the second half. Republic County, on a fourth and long play, got a 33 yard TD pass from Kuhlman to Trevor Lowell to increase their lead to 25 points early in the third quarter. The Knights only touchdown of the game would come on the ensuing drive that ended with back-up quarterback Caleb Jordan hitting wideout Trace Leners on an 8 yard TD pass.
Allsman tallied the last score of the game when he scampered in untouched from the Sacred Heart 11 yard line.
With the loss, the Knights end their season 3-6 overall and 1-2 in District play. It was the first time that Graber missed the play-offs during his tenure at Sacred Heart. Republic County improved to 4-5 on the season and 2-1 in the District and the Buffaloes secured a play-off game next Friday at Sedgwick.