MORAN — For many, Eight Man I-District 1 appeared to be a three-team race after Sedan, St. Paul and West Elk all tied for the top spot a year ago. Marmaton Valley can now be added to that list after the Wildcats knocked off Sedan 36-28 in the district opener last Friday.

“Our district is extremely tough in my opinion,” said MVHS coach Gavin Cole, whose squad is searching for its first postseason berth since 2012. “It’s going to be a battle every week. Starting 1-0 is huge in our district, more importantly because we got a win over a quality team in Sedan that will also be competing for one of those top two spots. Hopefully, this win and the way we had to achieve it will go a long ways towards building more confidence as a team and continuing to improve as we work towards our goal of making the playoffs.”

Marmaton Valley, now 4-1 overall, improved to 1-0 in district play as they hit the road this week for another district matchup at Madison. The Bulldogs (4-1, 0-1) suffered their first loss of the season last week in a 54-8 setback at unbeaten St. Paul.

Meanwhile, Sedan — which has not reached the playoffs since 2009 — dropped its first contest of the season as it fell to 4-1 overall and 0-1 in district play. The Blue Devils face a must-win situation the remainder of the way, starting with Friday’s home contest against Southern Coffey County. The Titans dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the district following a 54-8 road loss at undefeated West Elk last week.

“We just made too many senseless penalties against a good team, and it cost us,” said Sedan coach Mick Holt, whose squad tied for first place in the district a year ago with St. Paul and West Elk but dropped down to third after the point-differential tiebreaker. “I was proud of our boys for coming back and retaking the lead in the second half. But unfortunately, our mistakes hurt us. Give credit to Marmaton Valley for capitalizing on our mistakes. They have some very good athletes.”

Trailing 30-28 late in the fourth quarter, Sedan actually had a chance to pull out a victory. The Blue Devils tried to use a hook-and-lateral on a third-and-long play. But after Kiefer Brewer caught the ball, Marmaton Valley’s Trevor Wilson was able to pick off the lateral and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to basically seal the deal.

Earlier in the contest, Cody Joslin put the Blue Devils on the scoreboard first with a 54-yard run and conversion. Marmaton Valley responded with a 60-yard run by Wilson, but Sedan still had an 8-6 lead after 12 minutes of action.

Wilson gave the Wildcats the lead on a 15-yard reception from Justice Pugh. The Blue Devils came back to tie things up at 14-all on a 35-yard scoring strike from Halderman to Brewer. The host team eventually went into the locker room up 22-14 after Pugh found Korbin Smith for a 15-yard touchdown pass before halftime.

Sedan evened the score up early in the third quarter as Brady Williams recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. Tayte Halderman’s conversion run tied things up at 22-all. Moments later, the Blue Devils took the lead on a 49-yard run by Halderman. Yet, the Wildcats reclaimed the lead at 30-28 at the end of the period on a 42-yard run by Wilson, followed by his own conversion.

Marmaton Valley had a slight edge of 257-225 in total yardage for the game. Wilson had a game-high 130 yards rushing on 14 carries for the Wildcats, while the Blue Devils were led by Joslin with 20 attempts for 129 yards.