Football coaches are constantly preaching about being solid in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams.
By Rick Peterson, Topeka Capital-JournalAnd while Silver Lake rolled up 370 total yards of offense in Friday’s Class 3A semifinal against arch-rival Rossville, it was huge plays on defense and special teams that paved the way to a 35-14 victory and yet another Eagle trip to the state championship game.
Silver Lake led 28-14 at the half, with the difference being Eagle touchdowns on defense and special teams — senior Blake Baird scoring on a pick-6 and senior Peter Pfannanstiel returning a kickoff 90 yards.
“Those were very big plays early in the game,” said Silver Lake coach C.J. Hamilton, whose Eagles will take a perfect 13-0 record into next Saturday’s 3A championship game against Scott City. “The kickoff return was big after them scoring and then to get that last score right before the half to go up 28-14 — you always need a cushion against them. One touchdown isn’t good enough.
“They were obviously big plays any time you can score in all three phases of the game.”
After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, Rossville (11-2) got within a touchdown twice, but both times Silver Lake had quick answers.
The Eagles added a final touchdown late in the third quarter after an interception and then clinched the victory when Pfannenstiel picked off another Bulldog pass in the end zone to thwart a Rossville scoring threat.
Rossville finished the night with four turnovers.
“We kind of dug ourselves a hole and never got out of it,” Rossville coach Steve Buhler said. “We got away with it against Colgan — we (also) had a few turnovers there — and against a team this caliber you can’t do that. This time of year you can’t do that and expect to move on.”
The Eagles took a 6-0 lead on their first possession of the game, with junior quarterback Dailin Kruger scoring from 27 yards out to cap a seven-play, 65-yard drive.
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