HOLTON — There are good teams, and there are great teams. That’s what Wamego head football coach Dale Burkholder told his Red Raiders after their 56-6 loss at defending Class 4A state champion and top-ranked Holton on a frigid Friday night.
“You ran into a great team tonight,” Burkholder told his beleaguered locker room. “And you know, I still think you’re a pretty good team too.”
Wamego (6-1) had high hopes heading into the 4A District 9 matchup, but Holton (7-0) dashed any hope of a Red Raiders upset early. The Wildcats notched touchdowns on each of their first three drives, while holding Wamego to just two first downs and picking off a Kyler Alderson pass to build a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“We did run into a buzzsaw, a big machine…” Burkholder said. “They just knocked us off the ball in every phase of the game. They mauled us, and we didn’t have any answer for it.”
In all, the Wildcats racked up 572 yards of offense — all rushing. Holton’s “Barta Bone” offense bombarded the Red Raiders with 375 of those coming in the first half. Wildcat running back Drake Ewing rushed for four of Holton’s six first-half touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Wamego passing attack never got off the ground. Cold hands and a stout Holton defense held Alderson to just 11-of-35 passing for 102 yards on the night with two interceptions.
Holton didn’t throw a single pass in the game. It didn’t have to. Holton didn’t punt until the fourth quarter after reeling off seven straight touchdown drives to start the game. Wamego’s lone touchdown came on a 2-yard run by Alderson that cut the Wildcats’ lead to 35-6 — the PAT was no good — before Holton answered to take a 42-6 lead into the half.
Despite the lopsided loss, the main goal for the Red Raiders is still attainable.
“As a team, that’s our dream, you know, to go to the playoffs,” senior linebacker and fullback Logan Stoddard said.
If the Red Raiders can pull District-9 wins against perennial power Topeka Hayden and Royal Valley, they’ll earn the program’s first playoff berth since 2007.
“It’s got to be one of the toughest, if not the toughest (district) in the state,” Burkholder said. “But in the last couple of years, we’ve at least done some damage.”
Stoddard knows what it will take to regroup and do some more damage in 2013.
“We got to take this like men,” he said. “We got Royal Valley next week, and got to come back start playing, have a good week of practice, step up and fix what we did wrong this game.”