West Elk looks to remain perfect against rival Sedan

Following a pivotal road win over St. Paul in a battle of unbeatens, the West Elk Patriots will try to move one step closer to an Eight Man I-District 1 championship. But it won’t come easy as they welcome their biggest rival, Sedan, to town for another key showdown.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday at Pat Simmons Stadium in Howard.

The Patriots are coming off an impressive 36-22 win last week at St. Paul. In that contest, WEHS had a 366-148 advantage in total yardage and led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter. West Elk improved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in district play.

Last season, St. Paul captured a 66-42 win at West Elk to snap the Patriots’ 16-game regular-season win streak. WEHS went on to finish as the district runner-up behind the Indians.

“We preach from day one to focus one practice at a time, one day at a time, one game at a time,” said West Elk coach Chris Haag. “I’d be lying, though, if we didn’t have that game circled. A lot of people weren’t picking us to win the game. Our guys went in focused and stuck with our game plan. I was pleased with our intensity and effort the entire game. It was a big win for our team.

“Our defense did an outstanding job on them. They had 88 yards rushing, with 81 of those yards coming on two runs. Our defense really buckled down. Offensively, we had a few missed opportunities in the first half, but otherwise did a great job. I’m so proud of the guys’ resiliency. We really controlled both sides of the football.”

In that win, the Patriots were led by quarterback Cade Miller, who accounted for 278 total yards of offense. He carried the ball 37 times for 203 yards while also passing for 75 yards.

West Elk, which has won 41 of its last 45 regular-season games since the end of the 2012 season, now has the upperhand in the race for the district championship but can’t afford a letdown during the final three weeks. That starts on Friday as the Patriots take on a Sedan team that currently stands at 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the district.

The Blue Devils — seeking their first postseason berth since 2009 — opened district play with a heartbreaking 36-28 loss at Marmaton Valley but bounced back last week at home to beat Southern Coffey County 58-24.

“I thought our team played hard once again,” said SHS coach Mick Holt. “Our offensive line did a great job of creating some holes, allowing us to establish our run game. I thought our team responded well after the setback. They understand that each game is important from here on out.”

Sedan’s rushing attack accounted for 381 yards in the win over SCC. Two Blue Devils went over the century mark in the game, including Tayte Halderman with 14 carries for 182 yards and Cody Joslin with 17 attempts for 161 yards.

A year ago, the Blue Devils went into their matchup with West Elk unbeaten but suffered a 46-24 home loss to the Patriots. That proved to be costly as Sedan went on to finish in a three-way tie for first place in the district standings with West Elk and St. Paul. Unfortunately, the point differential tiebreaker dropped SHS down to the third spot and, despite an 8-1 overall record, eliminated the team from a postseason berth.

“We face a very tough team this week in West Elk,” said Holt, whose squad has won 14 of its last 16 games overall. “They are a well-coached team. Their line does a great job and can get to the next level. Obviously, in order to beat West Elk, you have to have a game plan for Cade Miller. Not only is he very talented, but his football IQ sets him apart from other great players. If you try to put pressure on him, he will take off and run. If you give him time to throw, he will pick your defense apart. You can’t stop him, but hopefully we can slow him down a little bit. We will try to mix things up defensively and will hope to establish our run game and control the tempo. If we can put together long drives that eat up the clock, we can keep the ball out of Miller’s hands.”

Since both teams moved to the eight-man ranks, the rivalry between West Elk and Sedan has intensified. After a three-game win streak in the series for the Blue Devils, the Patriots have run off four straight wins. Overall, West Elk has won seven of the last 11 matchups between the two longtime rivals.

 

(Photo credit to Lynne Miller)