No. 3 Galena, No. 2 Silver Lake set for battle in sectional round of 3A playoffs

GALENA — Coming off a 28-6 victory at Wellsville in the regional round, Galena is set for its biggest challenge to date in the Class 3A playoffs.

The third-ranked Bulldogs will host No. 2 and perennial state power Silver Lake in a sectional playoff game set for 6 p.m. tonight.

“It’s a big accomplishment for our team as it’s one of our goals each year,” said Galena coach Beau Sarwinski. “Any time you are able to play football in the month of November, it’s great.”

The Bulldogs — CNC League and District 7 champions — are coming off an impressive road win at Wellsville in the regional round that moved them to 11-0 on the season.

In that contest, Galena jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the intermission on a 28-yard scoring strike from JC Shelton to Garrett Hall and a one-yard dive into the end zone from Shelton.

Wellsville made things interesting with a third-quarter touchdown to get back within one possession. But GHS eventually put the game away, getting a three-yard touchdown run from Joseph Helton later in the third period and then adding a Shelton eight-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

Galena dominated all phases of the game, finishing with 410 total yards of offense compared to just 146 for Wellsville. The Bulldogs rushed for 319 yards, with two players going over the century mark — Helton with 17 carries for 127 yards and Shelton with 19 attempts for 100 yards.

“We played very well on both sides of the ball,” Sarwinski said. “We were able to control line of scrimmage.”

Galena avenged a 27-22 loss to the same Wellsville one year earlier in the playoffs that ended the Bulldogs’ season. It was the third playoff matchup between Galena and Wellsville since 2011.

The Bulldogs have now advanced to the sectional round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Coincidentally, Silver Lake put an end to Galena’s season in that sectional playoff game by a score of 26-6.

Not only are Galena and Silver Lake both highly ranked at the state level, but they are two of only three remaining unbeaten teams left in Class 3A — the other being 11-0 Phillipsburg.

The Eagles are back in the sectional round for the first time since 2014 following a 25-7 upset win over top-ranked Nemaha Central in last week’s regional round.

Against Nemaha Central, Mason Griffin tossed a pair of touchdowns for Silver Lake and has now passed for 1,754 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. In addition to Griffin, the Eagles have plenty of talent in the backfield, including the team’s top rusher of Mason Jones with his 908 yards and 18 scores this season.

“They are very talented on both sides of the ball and very well coached,” Sarwsinksi said. “We cannot turn the ball over and have to control the line of scrimmage. Special teams will be the difference. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes and capitalizes on opportunities will come out on top.”

Galena is seeking its first trip to the state semifinals since 2009.

The winner of the Galena-Silver Lake matchup will take on the winner of tonight’s Osage City (9-2) at Sabetha (10-1) contest in the sub-state round of the playoffs on Friday, Nov. 17.

Other Class 3A sectional round playoff games include Cheney (9-2) at Marysville (10-1), and Phillipsburg (11-0) at Hesston (8-3).