Top 10 Stories of 2018

It was a successful, and eventful, 2018 for Louisburg High School athletics and for those who are connected to the Wildcat program. This past year created a lot of school history for LHS and several programs brought back state hardware to Louisburg.

Below are the Top 10 stories from 2018, along with a brief explanation of each. Included in the explanation is the link to the actual story from the event.

This year was a blast to cover and I was blessed to have the opportunity to go along for the ride with many of these. As much fun as it was, I can’t wait for 2019 to begin. Looking forward to it!

10. Dillon medals at state golf for second straight year

EMPORIA – All season,
Calvin Dillon had been atop or near the front of leaderboard and that didn’t
change in what was his biggest tournament of the season.

The Louisburg High School sophomore went up against the state’s best during the Class 4A state golf tournament on May 19 at the Emporia Municipal Course and did more than old his own. Dillon earned a state medal as he finished 11thoverall with a 3-over par 74.

It was the second consecutive state medal for Dillon
after he finished 10th overall last season at
Wamego as a freshman.

“It is a real honor
to earn another state medal, especially with the quality players that were at
the state tournament,” Dillon said. “There were lots of good players and lots
of good teams.”

It
was another notch on Dillon’s list of accomplishments that included a Frontier
League title and six straight tournament victories during the 2018 season.

9. Conley, Ebenstein named Class 4A Coach of the Year

Louisburg
girls soccer coach Kyle Conley and Wildcat football coach Robert Ebenstein both
led their respective teams to special seasons.

Those seasons were special enough for both coaches to earn two big awards.

Conley was rewarded for all his hard work in June when it was announced that he was named as the Kansas Soccer Coaches Association’s Girls Coach of the Year for Class 4-1A.

He guided the Wildcats to a 14-7 record and a spot in the
state championship match, where the Lady Cats finished second overall. The
finish was something to remember for Wildcat fans as that was accomplished in
just the program’s third year of existence.

He has posted a
41-18-2 record during his time as the Wildcat girls head coach and also guided
the Louisburg boys soccer team to its best finish in program history in 2017
with a fourth place finish at state.

As for Ebenstein, he
guided the Wildcats to 10 straight victories and a regional championship to
start the 2018 season, before getting knocked out in the sectional round
against eventual state champion, Bishop Miege.

Following the season, the Kansas Football Coaches Association named Ebenstein as the Class 4A Coach of the Year. Ebenstein, who is just in his second season as head coach, has a 16-4 record with the Wildcats as he guided his team to a Frontier League championship this year.

8.
Holtzen finishes Louisburg career with 12 varsity letters

Once Isabelle Holtzen
received her diploma and walked out of Louisburg High School for the last time
as a student, she officially became one of the most decorated female athletes
in school history.

No, she doesn’t have any individual state championships, or even
one as part of a team. Holtzen’s decorations aren’t ones in the form of
trophies or all-state honors, but instead, they can be found on the front of
her letter jacket.

Holtzen became the first female athlete in at least 20 years to earn 12 varsity letters, which means she lettered on the varsity level in three sports in each of her four years of high school.

In research done by Louisburg Sports Zone, it was unable to find
the last athlete to accomplish the feat, which could mean Holtzen could be the
first Lady Cat to do so. She competed in cross country, basketball and track
and field

The last athlete to come close was in 2001 when Krystal Bowes
earned 10 varsity letters before moving on to a collegiate track career at
Wichita State.

“The biggest thing that it means to me is to just have an
opportunity to participate in three sports at a school like Louisburg,” Holtzen
said. “The bigger the school that you go to, the harder it is to play multiple
sports at the varsity level and I think Louisburg is unique in that fact. The
best part of this whole journey was I think my freshman year because there was
no pressure and no one was expecting anything from me. It was surprising and
exciting to be able to letter in all three sports.”

Holtzen is currently at
Northern Iowa, where she received a scholarship to pole vault for the Panther
Track and Field Team.

7.
Dixon earns All-American, Player of the Year honors, signs with Kansas State

Louisburg
senior Anna Dixon led the Lady Cat volleyball program all season and she was recognized
for her play on the court.

Dixon was named to the Under Armour Volleyball All-American team as she received a spot on the honorable mention squad when the list was released in November.

Dixon, the 6-foot-3 outside hitter, was recently named the Class 4A Player of the Year by the Kansas Volleyball Association, and along with that was also selected to the all-state first team.

It was the second year in a row Dixon was named player of the
year, as she had to share the honor last season with Rose Hill’s Gracie Van
Driel.

The honors certainly didn’t stop there as Dixon was
all named to the All-Frontier League first team as she helped guide the Lady
Cats to an undefeated league season.

Dixon led the Lady Cats in kills with 584 in 105 sets
played. She also finished with 325 digs, as she played all six rotations and
also had 50 aces and 42 blocks.

In her four years with the program, Dixon finished
with 2,003 kills, which would place that total among the best the school has
ever seen.

All that success resulted in a dream come true for Dixon as she made it official last November when she signed to play volleyball at Kansas State.

“I have always known Kansas State was going to be my
home,” Dixon said. “Even since I committed as a sophomore, I always wanted to
go up to Manhattan and see the girls and spend time with the team. K-State is where
I need to be.”

6. Louisburg wrestling sends six to state, Holtzen
earns first state medal

SALINA – As the final
whistle sounded in his blood round match, Cade Holtzen looked up into the
rafters of the Tony’s Pizza Events Center and smiled.

He had finally reached
his goal.

Holtzen defeated Columbus’ Gabe Porter by a 6-0 decision Saturday during the Class 4A Kansas State Wrestling Championships in Salina and secured his state medal.

“It is one of the best
feelings that I have had in my life,” Holtzen said. “Just knowing that I’m
going to place – you just can’t match that with anything else.”

It certainly wasn’t
easy for the Louisburg freshman as he faced a win or go home with nothing
scenario heading into his match with Porter. Holtzen pulled out the victory and
eventually finished sixth overall at 113 pounds to give Louisburg a state
medalist for the third consecutive season.

“It is pretty cool,”
he said. “I have been working for this all season, so to get a state medal is
great. It may not have been as high as I wanted, but any state medal is pretty
amazing.”

Holtzen had a special
year for the Wildcats as he finished with a 45-6 record and broke the school
record for most wins in a single season. He won four different tournaments and
was a Frontier League and regional tournament runner-up.

To add to his resume,
he became only the second freshman in school history to earn state medal –
second to only Austin Hood, who would go on to with three state titles.

Austin Moore finished
one victory shy of earning his first state medal, while Ryan Adams, Thad
Hendrix and Blue Caplinger also picked up wins at the state tournament.

5. Moore, Johnson
finished in top 10 at state cross country, girls qualify for second straight
year

WAMEGO – It was going
to be hard for the Louisburg High School girls cross country team to duplicate
its magical season of 2017.

Not only did the Lady Cats qualify their team for state for the
first time in program history, but they also had a top five finisher in Trinity
Moore.

Fast forward to 2018, Louisburg wasn’t able to match that successful
run – the Lady Cats took it a step further.

Moore, along with freshman Reese Johnson, each had a top 10 finish during the Class 4A Kansas State Cross Country Championships at Wamego Country Club, and it is the first time in school history that two female runners had medaled at a state meet. Louisburg added on to that as the girls finished fifth in the team standings with 154 points, which is also the highest finish in school history.

Moore, who finished
fifth at state a year ago, bested her performance by one place as she took
fourth with one of her better performances of the season. Johnson was right
behind her as she crossed the finish line in sixth.

Shaylor Whitham, Carlee Gassman, Kaitlyn Lewer, Delaney Wright and Kennady Wilkerson were also members of the Lady Cats’ team to run at state. Emily Williams was a member of the regional team that finished second overall.

4. Louisburg track
earns six state medals, Gassman state runner-up in 300 hurdles

WICHITA – Carlee Gassman had broken the Louisburg High School 300-meter hurdle record three different times in 2018 prior to the state track meet.

She picked the perfect time to make it a fourth.

Gassman broke her own school record in the 300 hurdles in May at the Class 4A Kansas State Track and Field Championships in Wichita as she ran a time of 45.68 seconds to earn a silver medal as she was the Wildcats’ top performer on the weekend. Andale’s Abby Smarsh, who is a senior, won the event in 44.73.

It was the Louisburg sophomore’s first time competing at the
Kansas meet as she transferred in from Iowa last year, where she qualified for
the state meet there in the 400 hurdles.

Gassman’s medal in the 300 hurdles was just one of six the
Wildcats were able to bring home following the two-day meet. Those six medals
were the most Louisburg has earned since 2011, when the Wildcats combined to
medal in 10 events and the boys won their first team state title.

The 300 hurdles wasn’t the only event Gassman found success in
as she also medaled in the long jump. Gassman, who hadn’t competed in the event
prior to this year, finished fifth with a mark of 17 feet, 0.25 inches.

Isabelle Holtzen
would go on to finish sixth in the pole vault, the boys 4×400 team of Chris
Williams, Blue Caplinger, Ben Wiedenmann and Justin Collins went on to take
seventh. Williams finished eighth in the 400-meter run and Trent Martin medaled
eighth in the boys pole vault.

3. Louisburg
volleyball takes runner-up at state for second straight season

HUTCHINSON – The
feeling was much of the same.

The pride of finishing as a state-runner up was a popular one
among the members of the Louisburg volleyball team. At the same time, the
frustration of taking second in state in back-to-back seasons was just as
prevalent.

Louisburg wasn’t quite sure what to feel following its 25-13 and 25-14 loss to Bishop Miege in the championship game of the Class 4A state tournament Saturday at Hutchinson Sports Arena.

In 2017, the Lady
Cats fell to Rose Hill by two points in the championship match, and fast
forward to the present, they were in the same spot – holding the state
runner-up trophy. It was the 15th time in
program history that Louisburg finished in the top four at state.

The Lady Cats rattled off four straight wins to start
the tournament, including knocking off No. 1 seed Independence, and defending
state champions Rose Hill and Topeka Hayden. Louisburg then battled back to
defeat Andale in the state semifinals.

“The loss was tough,”
Louisburg coach Jessica Compliment said. “To come so close to a state title two
years in a row, only to come up short is tough. But with that being said, it is
a huge accomplishment for this team to get back to the state championship and
make it two years in a row. Finishing second is nothing to hang our heads on.
Last year’s finish fueled the fire for the team this year, and I challenged the
returning players to use this loss and feeling to fuel them for next year.”

Louisburg has been
one of the more dominant teams in Class 4A in the last decade as the Lady Cats
have made the state tournament seven out of the last nine years and have
finished as a state runner-up on three different occasions, along with several
third and fourth place finishes. They finished 2018 with a 36-9 record.

2. Louisburg girls
soccer advances to title game, has best finish in program history

NORTH NEWTON – The obstacle
seemed insurmountable – and it was.

The Louisburg High School girls soccer team found itself in the
Class 4-1A state championship match in the program’s third year of existence,
but if they wanted to take it another step further, the Wildcats were going to
have to knock the defending state champion of its perch.

Unfortunately, Bishop Miege wasn’t about to be moved.

In a state title game that was played in the sweltering heat in late May at Bethel College, the Wildcats couldn’t stay with the Stags in a 5-0 defeat. It was the third consecutive title for Bishop Miege, while Louisburg earned a state plaque for the first time in its short history.

It was special season for the Wildcats as the night before they knocked off Topeka Hayden, 1-0, in the state semifinals to secure the program’s first state plaque. In 2017, Louisburg both games in its state tournament appearance and finished fourth.

The road to this state
championship appearance has been an interesting one for the Wildcats. More than
three years ago, a group of Louisburg parents and citizens raised enough money
to begin the girls soccer program and fund it for three years.

Louisburg was in the final year of that funding, and while the
program isn’t going away, the team realized they needed to play for more than
themselves.

“We played for the community tonight,” Louisburg senior Bailey Belcher
said after the Hayden win. “We have to remember that when they raised money for
this program, it was just through this year, so I think we owed it to them to
play well. I really think it might have helped with how we played and I think
it was one of the best games we played all season.”

“It is a third-year program
with 41 wins, three regional championships, two state final fours and now a
state runner-up,” Louisburg coach Kyle Conley said after the title game. “We
just have kids who come in and work their butt off. They are not soft, they
aren’t weak and from top to bottom they are going to work hard.

“We worked hard, but we just played Miege. That is one of the
best teams in the state, and that stinks, but our kids played hard, worked
their tail off and it was a great year. We had people criticize us for how we
got there, but we won games and that really motivated the kids. It got them
fired up to go do something bigger than themselves. I couldn’t be more proud of
they stuck together and what they accomplished.”

1. Football wins 10 straight, takes Frontier League title and regional championship

It had been almost two
months since Louisburg and Piper squared off on the football field in what was
one of the more entertaining games on the Wildcats’ schedule.

Back in early
September, Louisburg left Piper High School with a seven-point win – a victory
that would help propel them to a Frontier League championship and a perfect
regular season.

The two teams squared
off again and the stakes were a bit higher. The game, at least for Louisburg
anyway, was even more exciting.

The Wildcats dominated action from the opening kickoff and never looked back in a 48-0 win over the Pirates. In the process, Louisburg won the school’s first regional championship since 2016 and are off to a 10-0 start for the first time since 2010.

Louisburg advanced to the sectional round where it fell to eventual state champion Bishop Miege, 55-21, and finished its season with a 10-1 record.

It was as season
marked with special moments, including a 28-7 victory over then-undefeated
Paola late in the year to secure a league title.

“Being 10-0 and then having
that first loss of the season was very disappointing,” Louisburg coach Robert
Ebenstein said. “Losing always sucks, but losing in the playoffs and having to
wait until next August is the worst.  At the end of the day, Miege is a
very good team and we did some good things. We got them to fourth down on
multiple drives in the first quarter, we just couldn’t make the plays on
those big downs. Then we got behind a little and started pressing.

“Overall it was a great year.
I am very proud of our guys and excited for them that they were able to get
double digit wins for only the third time since 2000, and there was a
lot of really good football played during that time period. It was a lot
fun to be a part of.”

Austin Moore was named to the Kansas Shrine Bowl and was a first-team all-state player for the Wildcats. Moore was also named as the Kansas Small-Class Player of the Year by 810 Varsity.

With all that success, honors
started to roll in for its players as running backs Austin Moore and Blue
Caplinger, along with linemen Brayden White and Kiefer Tucker all earned
all-state honors.

Moore and White went on to be
semifinalists for the Simone Awards and Moore was also selected to participate
in the Kansas Shrine Bowl in the summer of 2019. Ebenstein was also named as
coach of the year by the football coaches association.

Most recently, Moore was
named the Kansas Small-Class Player of the Year and Running Back of the Year by
810varsity.com, while White was named the Small-Class Lineman of the Year.
Ebenstein was also named Kansas Small-Class Coach of the Year by 810 Varsity.




Ebenstein named Coach of the Year, 4 Wildcats earn state, metro honors

Louisburg head football coach Robert Ebenstein was recently named the Class 4A Coach of the Year by the Kansas Football Coaches Association. Ebenstein just finished his second year as head coach and led the Wildcats to a Frontier League title and a regional championship.

The Louisburg High School football team had one of the better seasons in its history as the Wildcats won their first 10 games of the season and finished with a regional championship.

It only makes the sense that several of the Wildcat players and coaches are receiving postseason recognition. 

The latest came from the Kansas Football Coaches Association as Louisburg head coach Robert Ebenstein was named Class 4A Coach of the Year. Ebenstein, who is just in his second season as head coach, has a 16-4 record with the Wildcats as he guided his team to a Frontier League championship this year.

“To be named coach of the year is an honor for sure,” Ebenstein said. “Many guys coach for years and never get that, but to be honest this award is a just a reflection of the assistant coaches we have and the commitment these players give to this program.

“I cannot say enough about the guys that I have the honor to coach with, Doc D, (Drew)Harding, (Joel) McGhee, (Ty) Pfannenstiel, (Pete) Skakal, (Alex) Gentges, (Kade) Larson and (Jeff) Lohse are some of the best football minds in the state as well as role models and mentors for our players to look up to.  I am fortunate to coach with them and Louisburg is lucky to have them.”

Senior Austin Moore was named as a first-team all-state player by several publications.

Seniors Austin Moore and Kiefer Tucker joined Ebenstein on the KFCA all-state team as both players were named to the first team all-state offense on the senior-only list.

Moore tallied 1,554 total yards, with 1,428 yards of those on the ground at the running back spot and also had 21 touchdowns, while Tucker, played guard on the offensive line was a big part of a lot of those yards.

Junior lineman Brayden White earned first team all-state honors and was also named to the All-Simone second team.

Junior lineman Brayden White and Moore were also recognized as some of the top players in the Kansas City area. Moore was a semifinalist for the Small-Class Players of the Year when the annual Simone Awards were  announced. The Simone Awards recognize some of the best players in the Kansas City area on both sides of the state line.

White was also a semifinalist for the Bobby Bell Award, which is for the best small-class lineman or linebacker. He was also named to the All-Simone second team as an offensive lineman.

“Having a player nominated for the Simone Awards is an honor, but to have two players in the same year is unreal,” Ebenstein said. “It is awesome to see that the Greater Kansas City media has noticed Louisburg football and our players.”

Seniors Blue Caplinger (left) and Kiefer Tucker were honorable mention all-state selections. Tucker was also named to the first team all-state list by the Kansas Football Coaches Association.

If that wasn’t enough, both Moore and White were named to the Class 4A All-State first team by both the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Eagle. Wildcat teammates Blue Caplinger and Tucker were both recognized as honorable mention all-state players.

“It was really cool to see all-state honors for Blue and Kiefer,” Ebenstein said. “They played great football all season long, and for other coaches and media members to take notice is awesome. I may be a little biased, but I honestly feel like we had a few more players compete at an all-state level, but there are a lot of great football players in 4A and the Greater Kansas City Area.”




Moore, Tucker lead Louisburg as Cats awarded 16 slots for all-league

Louisburg seniors Austin Moore (left) and Kiefer Tucker were both awarded first team All-Frontier League honors on each side of the ball. The Wildcats were awarded 16 slots on the team.

 

The Louisburg football team reached several milestones this season, including winning its first 10 games for the first time since 2010 and was only the third Wildcat team to reach double-digit wins since 2000.

Throw in the fact the Wildcats also won their first Frontier League title in eight years and captured a regional championship, it was a year to remember for Louisburg football. With all that success, the individual honors are starting to roll in.

All-Frontier League teams were recently released and the Wildcats were awarded 16 slots overall, including eight on each side of the ball.

“Overall I was very happy with how we were represented,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said.

Seniors Austin Moore and Kiefer Tucker led the Wildcats as the two players were first team selections on offense and defense. Moore was named a first-team running back and linebacker, while Tucker earned first team honors on the offensive and defensive lines.

Offensively, senior Brayden Gage (wide receiver) and junior Brayden White (line) were named to the first team. Junior Madden Rutherford (quarterback) and senior Blue Caplinger (multi-purpose player) were second team selections.

(From left) Brayden White, Blue Caplinger and Brayden Gage were each selected to the All-Frontier League first team.

Caplinger (defensive back) was also named to the all-league first team defense, as was Rutherford (punter). White (line) and junior Charlie Koontz (linebacker) were second team selections. Senior Noah Larson and junior Garrett Harding earned honorable mention honors as linemen on both sides of the ball.

Moore had a big season for the Wildcats, prior to breaking his collarbone in the next to last game of the year. He led Louisburg in tackles with 83 and had seven tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception.

Offensively, he tallied 1,554 total yards, with 1,428 yards of those on the ground and also had 21 touchdowns. He was also the leading point-getter in the all-league voting on both sides of the ball.

“Austin had an outstanding year,” Ebenstein said. “The kid is just a stud and you know it shows on Friday night, but he’s earned it all in the weight room. Within the last week, he has had collarbone surgery and Austin was already was doing kettlebell squats with his good arm, with his other arm in a sling. That’s the type of work ethic that gets you first team on both sides of the ball.”

Tucker was among the leaders on the line scrimmage for the Wildcats as he helped pave the way for more than 3,500 yards of total offense. Defensively, Tucker was a force from his defensive end position as he recorded 55 tackles, three tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack.

“Kiefer also had a great year, and you know the thing about him is he’s so disciplined and does his job on every single play and he goes 100 percent all the time,” Ebenstein said. “On the offensive side of the ball, he’s one of the smartest lineman that we’ve ever had since I’ve been here. He pretty much knows where every single person is supposed to go and he relays that on almost every play.”

Madden Rutherford (left) and Charlie Koontz were each named to the all-league second team. Rutherford was also a first team selection at punter.

White, along with Tucker, Larson and Harding, played vital roles on the Louisburg offensive and defensive lines. White was among the league’s best offensive tackles and also played well on the defensive line with 51 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack.

Gage, who split time at wide receiver and running back, earned first team wide receiver honors as he led the Wildcats with 283 yards receiving with three touchdowns. He also had 258 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

Caplinger had a big season on both sides of the ball as he had 310 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. He also had 234 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Caplinger had 31 tackles from the safety spot and also had two tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

“I am just excited for all those guys,” Ebenstein said of his first teamers. “They all had a great year and I’m glad that the other coaches in the league saw that as well and were willing to vote for them. It’s just a testament to how hard all those kids worked as a whole.”

Noah Larson (left) and Garrett Harding were each named as all-league honorable mentions on both sides of the ball.

Rutherford was just edged out of the first team quarterback spot, despite throwing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for 354 yards and had four touchdowns on the ground and had one more score receiving.

Koontz had a good year from the linebacker spot as he recorded 50 tackles, including six for a loss. He also had three fumble recoveries and a sack that helped him earn second team honors.

Larson and Harding also had good seasons on the Wildcat defensive line. Larson had 43 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. As for Harding, he had 34 tackles despite missing three games due to an injury at the defensive tackle spot.

“I was very happy for those guys to get noticed,” Ebenstein said. “They all had great seasons and the difference between the guys who got first and second team were slim in the voting numbers. At the end of the day, if you are being noticed by other coaches, even if you are honorable mention, you have done something really well so I’m super excited for all those kids.”

 

ALL-FRONTIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

BACKS – Austin Moore, Louisburg, senior; Seth Richmond, Paola, senior; Korbin Riedel, Tonganoxie, senior

RECEIVERS – Brayden Gage, Louisburg, senior; Elijah Tyner, Tonganoxie, junior; A.J. Watson, Bonner Springs, senior

LINE – Cole Sample, Tonganoxie, junior; Jeffery Schartz, Paola, senior; Mikey Stribling, Paola, junior; Kiefer Tucker, Louisburg, senior; Brayden White, Louisburg, junior

MULTI-POSITIONAL PLAYER – Brennen Feeback, Spring Hill, senior

KICKER – Ryan Wokutch, Paola, junior

 

SECOND TEAM

BACKS – Conner Hasz, Paola, junior; Bryce Krone, Bonner Springs, junior; Madden Rutherford, Louisburg, junior

RECEIVERS – Dallas Bond, Tonganoxie, sophomore; Malakhi Kennon, Piper, sophomore; Keyon Thomas, Bonner Springs, senior

LINE – Cooper Beebe, Piper, senior; Tyler McKinney, Paola, senior; Quinn Nichols, Baldwin, senior; Bryce Scholtze, Spring Hill, junior; LeMoses White, Piper, senior

MULTI POSITIONAL PLAYER – Blue Caplinger, Louisburg, senior

KICKER – Bear Gardner, Spring Hill, junior

 

HONORABLE MENTION

BACKS – Gavin Elston, Eudora, senior; Carter Neis, Eudora, senior; Noah Villarreal, Bonner Springs, senior; Dalton White, Piper, senior

RECEIVERS – Easton Jones, Spring Hill, senior; Nasjon Porter, Bonner Springs, senior; Jack Robinson, Piper, junior

LINE – Corbin Fullerton, Piper, senior; Garrett Harding, Louisburg, junior; Kaden Hartwell, Eudora, junior; Noah Larson, Louisburg, senior; Tucker Mace, Ottawa, senior; Jacob Miller, Tonganoxie, senior; Jacob Peterson, Bonner Springs, junior

MULTI-POSITIONAL PLAYER – Drake Pray, Tonganoxie, senior

KICKER – Sydni Bolewski, Bonner Springs, senior; Jonny Moon, Piper, senior

 

DEFENSE

FIRST TEAM

LINE – Javier Castillo, Paola, junior; Clay Essex, Paola, junior; Cole Sample, Tonganoxie, junior; Kiefer Tucker, Louisburg, senior

LINEBACKER – Austin Moore, Louisburg, senior; Brendan Ohlmeier, Paola, senior; Evan Peuser, Paola, junior; Drake Pray, Tonganoxie, senior

BACKS – Blue Caplinger, Louisburg, senior; Gavin Elston, Eudora, senior; Nasjon Porter, Bonner Springs, senior

PUNTER – Madden Rutherford, Louisburg, junior

 

SECOND TEAM

LINE – Cooper Beebe, Piper, senior; Kade Kehl, Baldwin, junior; Alec Waterman, Spring Hill, senior; Brayden White, Louisburg, junior

LINEBACKER – Nolan Ewing, Spring Hill, senior; Charlie Koontz, Louisburg, junior; Brandon Martin, Piper, sophomore; Andrew Puckett, Bonner Springs, senior

BACKS – Brandon Carlson, Ottawa, senior; Seth Richmond, Paola, senior; Noah Villarreal, Bonner Springs, senior

PUNTER – Connor Quick, Baldwin, junior

 

HONORABLE MENTION

LINE – Carson Downes, Spring Hill, junior; Garrett Harding, Louisburg, junior; Noah Larson, Louisburg, senior; Tucker Mace, Ottawa, senior; Jacob Miller, Tonganoxie, senior; BJ Walker, Piper, senior

LINEBACKER – Brayden Beerbower, Eudora, freshman; Brennen Feeback, Spring Hill, senior; Zach Flowers, Baldwin, senior; Dustin Rhoads, Tonganoxie, junior; Bryce Scholtze, Spring Hill, senior

BACKS – Brandon Ahart, Piper, sophomore; Conner Hasz, Paola, junior; Cy Hockey, Baldwin, senior; Noah Verbraken, Spring Hill, senior

PUNTER – Johnny Tapia, Bonner Springs, junior




Wildcats’ perfect season comes to close with loss to Miege

Louisburg junior Charlie Koontz gets a block from teammate Josh Casey as he was able to score one of the Wildcats’ three second half touchdowns in their 55-21 loss to Bishop Miege on Friday in the Class 4A sectional playoffs.

 

As the Louisburg football players walked off the field last Friday night following their sectional playoff game with Bishop Miege, the Wildcats felt something they hadn’t experienced this year.

A loss.

It came at the hands of the four-time defending state champion Stags, who made things difficult on the Wildcats from the start and didn’t let up, as Louisburg fell 55-21 at Wildcat Stadium.

The Wildcats finished their season with a 10-1 record, a Frontier League championship and a regional championship. Still, the fact that their season is over is hard feeling for the Louisburg players to shake.

“Being 10-0 and then having that first loss of the season was very disappointing,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said. “Losing always sucks, but losing in the playoffs and having to wait until next August is the worst.  At the end of the day, Miege is a very good team and we did some good things. We got them to fourth down on multiple drives in the first quarter, we just couldn’t make the plays on those big downs. Then we got behind a little and started pressing.”

On a frigid night that featured a slick and hard Wildcat Stadium field, both teams battled tough field conditions and it affected the Stags early as they mishandled several snaps. Louisburg was able to force Miege into third, and fourth and long situations, but the Stags converted several big plays to get out of it.

Bishop Miege scored 27 first quarter points, with three of those touchdowns coming on passes of more than 30 yards. The Stags added two more scores in the second quarter and jumped out to a 41-0 halftime lead.

Junior Garrett Harding (left) and senior Noah Larson team up for a block Friday against Bishop Miege.

“They have big time play makers all over the field, and their offensive line was able to give time in the pocket and they just made those plays,” Ebenstein said.

The Stags had two losses on the season coming into the game, but those were against the No. 1 team in 5A in St. Thomas Aquinas and a perennial power in Missouri, Rockhurst. They also play in a 5A and 6A dominated league throughout the season.

Miege has since feasted on Class 4A opponents when its gets to the playoffs, and the talent discrepancy made it difficult for the Wildcats to overcome.

Despite freezing cold temperatures and a large halftime deficit, the Wildcats didn’t give up and played hard in the second half.

In the third quarter, senior Blue Caplinger scooped up a Miege fumble and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown to get Louisburg on the board.

The Wildcats added two more scores in the fourth quarter as junior Charlie Koontz broke free for a 21-yard touchdown run and then senior Brayden Gage returned a kickoff 77 yards for the Wildcats’ final touchdown.

“As a coaching staff we challenged the guys to show their true colors and grit and I was very pleased with the fight and character our guys showed,” Ebenstein said. “We came out and won the second half.”

Seniors Brian Houck (23) and Jonathan DePriest bring down a Miege runner Friday at Wildcat Stadium.

It was a special season that saw the Wildcats win 10 straight games for the first time since 2010 and they also came away with a pair of championships. Despite all that, it was tough to say goodbye to a year that brought many great memories.

Add in the fact that 18 seniors played their final football game at Wildcat Stadium, it was an emotional ending.

“Overall it was a great year,” Ebenstein said. “I am very proud of our guys and excited for them that they were able to get double digit wins for only the third time since 2000, and there was a lot of really good football played during that time period. It was a lot fun to be a part of.”

 

LOU               0             0             7             14 – 21

BM                27           14           7             7 – 55

 

SCORING SUMMARY

First quarter

B: Deaunte Parker 2 run (kick failed)

B: Hudson Bentley 38 pass from Sam Pedrotti (run good)

B: Phillippe Wesley 31 pass from Brison Cobbins (kick good)

B: Jaylen Scruggs 39 pass from Pedrotti (kick failed)

 

Second quarter

B: Cobbins 9 run (run good)

B: Wesley 9 pass from Pedrotti (kick failed)

 

Third quarter

L: Blue Caplinger 67 fumble return (Drake Varns kick)

B: Jude Putz 20 pass from Harrison Braudis (kick good)

 

Fourth quarter

L: Charlie Koontz 21 run (Varns kick)

B: Jake Ryan 36 pass from Timothy Dorsey (kick good)

L: Brayden Gage 77 kickoff return (Varns kick)

 

STATISTICS

RUSHING: Charlie Koontz 9-48; Blue Caplinger 2-8; Brayden Gage 1- -2; Madden Rutherford 4- -5

PASSING: Madden Rutherford 3-13-16

RECEIVING: Josh Casey 1-6, Weston Guetterman 1-6, Michael Waldron 1-4

TACKLES: Charlie Koontz 11, Brayden Gage 8, Jorge Lebron 5, Brian Houck 5, Ben Wiedenmann 4, Kiefer Tucker 5, Brayden White 4, Beckett Rasmussen 3, Blue Caplinger 3, Tanner Belcher 3, Noah Larson 2, James Foote 2, Hunter Day 2, Jonathan DePriest 2, Gabe Rader 1, Dylan Knipp 1, Garrett Harding 1.




Wildcats to play underdog role against Bishop Miege

Louisburg quarterback Madden Rutherford hands the ball off to senior Blue Caplinger during the Wildcats’ win over Piper last week. Louisburg will host defending state champion Bishop Miege tonight in the Class 4A sectional playoffs.

 

The Louisburg football team enters today’s sectional playoff game with Bishop Miege as the No. 1 seed on the east side of the state and currently boasts a 10-0 record on the season.

Despite all that, the Wildcats are a heavy underdog.

Bishop Miege, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, has won the last four state championships and has dominated 4A in the last decade, including a 76-8 win over Labette County and a 49-20 victory over Pittsburg so far in the playoffs. Last season, the Stags outscored their playoff opponents 230-60.

The Stags’ only losses this season have come to the No. 1 team in Class 5A, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Missouri power, Rockhurst High School.

Despite all that, the Wildcats are excited for the opportunity to play one of the state’s best teams on their home field. Kickoff for tonight’s game is set for 7 p.m., in the sectional round of the playoffs. The winner of this game will meet the winner of Paola and Basehor-Linwood for the sub-state title.

“It is going to be awesome and the whole team is super excited,” Louisburg senior Blue Caplinger said. “A lot of people have been saying, ‘Oh, you are playing Miege, this is going to be your last game of the season.’ I think we have some advantages too. Our field is an advantage, the snow and the cold, too, so I think that it will be a good game.”

The Wildcats have put together a dominant season of its own as they have outscored their two playoff opponents, Ottawa and Piper, 104-8 the last two games.

“Our kids and coaches get excited for every game, but I would be lying if I said the focus this week wasn’t a little bit different than some others we have had,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said. “Our kids are excited for the opportunity to play Miege and give them our best shot on our home field.”

The Wildcats will have to account for a lot of weapons with the Bishop Miege offense and come up with their best performance of the season defensively.

Stag quarterback Sam Pedrotti leads the way with more than 1,700 yards passing and 19 touchdowns. Receivers Phillippe Wesley and Hudson Bentley each have more than 600 yards receiving and seven and five touchdowns, respectively.

Running back Brison Cobbins is another weapon for the Stags with nearly 1,000 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns. The Stags also have a big offensive line that the Wildcat defensive front is going to have to deal with.

Defensively, Miege linebacker Dylan Downing is one of the best players in the state with 100 tackles on the season, including 10 for a loss. Defensive lineman Jalen Williams is also a big factor with 17 tackles for a loss and a team-high 11 sacks.

Louisburg realizes Miege will be the toughest team it has faced all season and it will be playing at a disadvantage at times.

“When you watch them on film, they are just solid all around,” Ebenstein said. “They have good schemes and amazing athletes all over the field.  Every one of their players only play one side of the football and they never look tired. When a starter does go out, the person who replaces them never seems to be a downgrade.

“They also have about 18 coaches on the sidelines, and with players only playing one side of the ball, they make adjustments very well and have plenty of coaches on the sideline who can coach it up by position, which is tough for us. For example, when our quarterback comes off the field our QB coach (Jeff Lohse) is calling the defense so he never really has that chance to talk to him from a position coach perspective. It is just one of the many differences schools like Miege have that public schools are not granted.”

The Wildcats will also be without their leading rusher and tackler, Austin Moore, who was injured last week with a broken collarbone. Sophomore Ben Wiedenmann will fill in at running back and linebacker for Moore.

Still, the Wildcats have plenty of depth at the running back position with seniors Blue Caplinger and Brayden Gage, who have been big contributors all season.

Quarterback Madden Rutherford has been a steady presence for Louisburg as he has thrown for almost 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also has four more scores on the ground.

However for the Wildcats to be effective, it all starts up front with a veteran offensive line of Kiefer Tucker, Brayden White, Noah Larson, Garrett Harding and Jonathan DePriest.

“The play on the line is going to be huge,” White said. “We need to be able to have a run game and we need to be able to mix it up a little with the pass too. But the run game is going to be big for us, especially in the wet, soggy grass.

“It is going to be hard to replace someone like Austin. He is a big part of our team and he has probably given the most out of anyone here. I think Ben is going to do really good and I think he is going to surprise people and Austin has been supporting him the whole way.”

The Wildcats are hoping for a big crowd tonight at Wildcat Stadium, similar to the one they saw in Paola when they captured the Frontier League crown less than a month ago.

“Our community has been so supportive this season and their support at every home game is very much appreciated,” Ebenstein said. “Looking up and seeing those bleachers packed every home game is just a reminder of how amazing this community is and how much this school and team is supported.

“The Paola game also is another example that place was crazy that type of atmosphere could be a huge advantage against a team like Miege as they like to call and check almost every play at the line of scrimmage. As for being the underdog, we will take it. Nobody thought we would be league champions but we are. Nobody thought we were going to beat Paola, but we did, and now nobody thinks we will beat Miege.”

It is that underdog mentality that the Wildcats hope to use in their favor tonight against the highly-favored Stags.

“Honestly I think every coach and every player on our team believes we will win this game,” Ebenstein said. “Miege is an amazing team, and their track record proves they are, and have been one of the best teams in the state of Kansas over the past five years.  The good news is we don’t have to beat them every week, we only have to beat them this week.

“I think we have a good plan to get that done, and a team full of kids working their butt of to carry out that plan. Those nerves are always there for me personally, but once kickoff comes, everything just settles in and we play the game.”




OPINION: Moore’s injury hurts, inspires Louisburg football

Louisburg senior, and team captain, Austin Moore accepts the regional championship trophy from coach Robert Ebenstein following the Wildcats’ 48-0 win over Piper last Friday at Wildcat Stadium. Moore broke his collarbone in the first half of the game and has sidelined him for the rest of the season.

 

Following Louisburg’s 48-0 win over Piper on Friday that gave the Wildcats a regional championship, one would think the mood would be filled with excitement.

The Wildcats had just advanced in the playoffs and picked up their 10th consecutive victory to stay perfect on the season. It was a time to bask in what was a dominant performance.

It was anything but celebratory.

In fact, the setting was more like a funeral.

During the game, senior Austin Moore – a team captain and leader on both sides of the ball – suffered a broken collarbone in the first half. Although the Wildcats will get to play another week of football, Austin’s time as a Louisburg football player was up.

To put some perspective on what Moore was to his teammates, he might as well have worn an ‘S’ on his jersey and donned a red cape. He was Superman to a lot of those players.

He was supposed to invincible to this type of stuff. There was nothing that could bring down Austin Moore. Just ask his previous nine opponents.

At running back, Moore finished his season with more than 1,400 yards rushing to go along with 21 touchdowns in less than 10 games. On defense, he was the team’s leading tackler from his middle linebacker spot.

The shock across the Wildcat sideline could be seen as he came out of the locker room at halftime. Instead of a jersey and shoulder pads, he replaced it with a purple jacket and a sling. His season was over.

“After the game was a bitter sweet feeling for us all,” senior lineman Kiefer Tucker said. “Yes we were happy that we had won, but we also all felt terrible because of what happened to Austin. Austin is the hardest working kid I’ve ever met and he’s tough as nails too, so to see him injured was a surreal feeling.”

In the second quarter against Piper, Moore caught a swing pass for a short gain, but was brought down by three Piper players and landed hard. The impact would break his collarbone, but it didn’t keep him from staying on the field.

Moore shook off the injury – if one could do that with a broken bone – and carried the ball three more times, including a 6-yard touchdown run that saw him shed tacklers and drag defenders into the endzone to give Louisburg an early lead.

Austin Moore breaks a tackle as he tries to get into the endzone after he suffered a broken collarbone.

He then went back on the field for defense, despite his coaches telling him to take a break.

“After we scored, Blue (Caplinger) and (Brayden) Gage both said you need to check on Austin,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said. “So I found him on the sideline and said ‘You alright?’ and he responded with ‘Yeah I’m fine,’ and went right back out on defense. So we watched him that defensive possession and he was favoring that arm just a little bit.

“When we forced the punt, we put in Ben (Wiedenmann) for a drive to get him a break. He comes to the sideline and says ‘I’m fine, put me back in.’ I told him to just take a breather, we end up scoring and he goes back in to play linebacker. Next offensive possession I took him out again and he comes over and asks me why. I said we are up three scores, take a breather. His only response was I am fine.”

In his mind though, Moore knew something wasn’t right.

Reluctant to take x-rays at halftime, Moore finally conceded. It didn’t take the team’s trainer, Dr. Damon Dennis, long to figure out exactly what was wrong.

“Doc got his pads off and pressed around and said he needed to get an x-ray and Austin refused to go,” Ebenstein said. “Austin is a very tough kid. I have seen college athletes in tears over that same injury.”

The Wildcats carried on his absence and went on to outscore Piper 34-0 the rest of the way to ensure themselves a regional championship.

After the game was over, Ebenstein had Austin come out to midfield where he handed him the regional championship trophy and Austin presented it to the team. Celebration ensued, even if it was for just a brief moment.

In the locker room, instead of feeling sorry for himself, Austin was there to congratulate his teammates on what was an impressive victory.

“The atmosphere definitely wasn’t as if we had just won the regional championship, 48-0,” quarterback Madden Rutherford said. “The mood was a bit solemn because we all know how much this team means to Austin Moore. The coaches and Austin himself did an outstanding job of saying, ‘Yes, this sucks, but we must move on.’”

That is exactly what the Wildcats are doing as they face a daunting task of playing defending state champion, Bishop Miege. There aren’t many who would give the Wildcats, even with Moore, a chance of knocking off a team that has dominated Class 4A and won the last four state titles.

To put it in perspective, a media outlet in Kansas City released a poll on Twitter asking its followers to pick the Class 4A winner on the east side of the state – the only four choices were Bishop Miege.

 

There hasn’t been team in Class 4A that has come close to knocking off the Stags in more than a decade.

That is what the Wildcats are up against this Friday in the sectional round of the playoffs.

“Miege is a good team, you can’t deny that, but they are all human and they too make mistakes just as much as we do,” Tucker said. “The whole team, and myself, are very excited to be able to play against them because challenging games like this bring out the best in us. I fully believe that we have the heart and players to go out there and prove to everyone just who we are on our home field in front of the best community out there.”

Louisburg has put together probably its best season in eight years, since the Wildcats won the school’s first state championship. It has been quite a ride and one that will have to continue without No. 21 on the field.

However, Moore hasn’t left them. He will be more vocal than ever on the sidelines and the Wildcats are ready to make the best out of a bad situation.

“After the game I know a lot of us went up to him and told him how much respect and love we have for him and we told him that we weren’t done yet and that this next one was for him,” Tucker said. “We all know that we must step up now in the absence of him on the field, but he will be right on the sideline coaching us up and making sure that we are in the right mindset.”

Even without Moore, this Wildcat team ranks among one of the better teams in school history. They have a lot of depth at running back in Blue Caplinger, Brayden Gage and now Ben Wiedenmann, and Rutherford has had a big year at quarterback.

The lines on both sides of the ball have played well all season and is considered one of the team’s strength.

As good as that is, this team still needs your help. They need Wildcat fans to pack the stadium, just like you did against Paola and create an atmosphere these players will not forget.

They need you be loud and supportive. They need to know you have their back.

Austin Moore presents the regional trophy to the rest of the team last Friday.

This is postseason football. The stands should be full. No matter the outcome, celebrate what these Wildcats have already accomplished and what they have the potential to become.

“This is what we prepare all summer for, this is what we practice long hours for, this is why we study film for countless hours,” Rutherford said. “Playing Bishop Miege is something not many teams in the state want to do. They’d like to avoid them as long as possible.

“We are all stoked as a team to have them come down to our stadium and push us to our limits, and vice versa. All week long, the high school football gurus, and even classmates, will speculate that ‘We have to play Miege.’ But the reality is, Miege has to play us.”

Louisburg will do so with their leader and captain on the sidelines, cheering them on louder than if he were on the field. It is Moore’s injury that has given his team a new perspective.

“It’s always a blow to lose any player, but a kid who leads like Austin will be a big loss,” Ebenstein said. “We love Austin and will miss him Friday night on the field for sure, but we are a solid team and it is next man up preparing for the next game. I know our team will rally around the loss of Austin this week. The genuine love of a teammate could been seen in the faces of our kids in the locker room after the game.

“We always preach to play every play like it is your last, and this is just another example of why. Austin will recover fine and I expect him to have one heck of a college football career, but you never know when this game can be taken from you.”




Wildcats plunder Pirates to win regional championship

Senior Austin Moore (center) hands his Louisburg teammates the regional championship trophy Friday following the Wildcats’ 48-0 win over Piper at Wildcat Stadium. Moore was injured in the first half of the game with a broken collarbone and is out for the rest of the season.

 

It had been almost two months since Louisburg and Piper squared off on the football field in what was one of the more entertaining games on the Wildcats’ schedule.

Back in early September, Louisburg left Piper High School with a seven-point win – a victory that would help propel them to a Frontier League championship and a perfect regular season.

On Friday, the two teams squared off again and the stakes were a bit higher. The game, at least for Louisburg anyway, was even more exciting.

The Wildcats dominated action from the opening kickoff and never looked back in a 48-0 win over the Pirates. In the process, Louisburg won the school’s first regional championship since 2016 and are off to a 10-0 start for the first time since 2010.

“We have preached all year that we need to continue to get better in practice every week,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said. “We played them to a seven-point game early in the season, and then to come here in week 10 and put 48 up and get the shutout, is a true testament to these kids. It is a testament that they have sold out and how hard they are willing to work.”

The Wildcats showed their improvement throughout much of the game as they put up four touchdowns in each half and cruised to a win after winning a nail-biter earlier in the year.

“Friday’s game was a real blast to just go out there and show to everyone how much we have improved since we played them earlier in the season,” senior lineman Kiefer Tucker said. “I thought all around we were really clicking and then to be able to hold up the regional plaque at the end of the game was a great feeling as well.”

As exciting as the win was for the Wildcats, the mood after the game was less than celebratory.

During the game, many of the players and coaches found out that team captain Austin Moore was lost for the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.

Moore, the team’s leading rusher on offense and leading tackler on defense, has played big roles on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats this season and Louisburg is going to have to move forward in the playoffs without him on the field.

Moore sustained the injury in the second quarter when he caught a swing pass and was dragged down by three Piper defenders. He landed hard on the ground, but stayed in the game for the rest of the drive – a drive that included a 6-yard touchdown run by Moore that saw him shed tacklers and drag defenders into the endzone with that broken collarbone.

Austin Moore fends off a Piper defender for a long run during the first half of Friday’s game with Piper.

He later went back out on defense to play for a series and told the coaches he didn’t want to come out of the game. The coaching staff quickly realized something wasn’t right.

“I didn’t even realize Austin was injured in the moment,” Ebenstein said. “He caught a little swing pass and the way he landed with three guys on top of him broke his collarbone. He didn’t say anything and stayed in the game and actually carried the ball three more times and scored the touchdown on the same drive. After we scored Blue (Caplinger) and (Brayden) Gage both said you need to check on Austin. So I found him on the sideline and said ‘You alright?’ and he responded with ‘Yeah I’m fine,’ and went right back out on defense. So we watched him that defensive possession and he was favoring that arm just a little bit.

“It’s always a blow to lose any player, but a kid who leads like Austin will be a big loss. We love Austin and will miss him Friday night on the field for sure, but we are a solid team and it is next man up preparing for the next game.”

Even after losing Moore in the second quarter, the Wildcats continued to shine on both sides of the ball as they outscored the Pirates, 34-0, the rest of the way.

Quarterback Madden Rutherford came through for the Wildcats with three touchdowns on the ground, and another through the air, to lead the Louisburg offense.

Rutherford opened the game with a 1-yard touchdown run, and then after Moore’s touchdown in the second quarter, scored again on another quarterback sneak to put Louisburg up 21-0 late in the second quarter.

Senior Kiefer Tucker (50) pulls on the jersey to bring down a Piper player Friday in the regional championship game.

On that drive, senior Blue Caplinger stepped up in Moore’s absence as he made a leaping catch on third down for 29 yards, and then had a fourth down run to the 1-yard line to give Louisburg a first down – and then an eventual touchdown.

Kicker Drake Varns then helped give Louisburg the ball right back as he skipped the kickoff along the ground and allowed the Wildcats to recover the onside kick on the Piper 37-yard line with 2 minutes and 28 seconds left in the half.

Louisburg took advantage and scored its fourth touchdown of the half on a Brayden Gage 10-yard run and the Wildcats held a 28-0 lead at halftime.

The Wildcat defense made a big impact on the game as well as it forced four turnovers, including an interception by Caplinger to start the second half. Senior safety Tanner Belcher also had a big night with an interception, a fumble recovery and two deflected passes.

Louisburg’s defensive line also made a difference as seniors Kiefer Tucker and Noah Larson each forced a fumble and junior Garrett Harding recovered the other fumble. Larson also recorded the game’s only sack and junior linebacker Charlie Koontz led the Wildcats with seven tackles.

“Looking back, there probably could have been three or four more games to where we could have gotten shutouts, but we finally got to the point where we locked in to where every single person knew what their job was and we weren’t giving up those huge plays,” Ebenstein said. “I am super proud of those defensive kids, coach (Jeff) Lohse and all the position coaches for coaching it up all season.”

Safety Tanner Belcher (36) had a big night or Louisburg with an interception and a fumble recovery.

The Wildcat offensive line also provided a lot of push up front as Larson, Tucker, Brayden White, Harding and Jonathan DePriest, along with tight end Michael Waldron, helped tally 388 yards of total offense.

Big plays dominated the second half for Louisburg as Caplinger broke free for a 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Rutherford followed that up with a 50-yard run up the middle for another score. Louisburg sealed the win late in the game when Rutherford found Brandon Cooper on an 80-yard touchdown pass.

“It is good to see all those guys start to mesh together,” Ebenstein said. ‘We are continuing to add plays, do new things and give new wrinkles and that is because they are focused. It is something that these kids work their butt off for and it is all for them.”

Senior Brayden Gage looks for some running room as he gets a block from teammate Blue Caplinger.

The road to the state championship gets significantly harder this Friday when Louisburg hosts defending state champion Bishop Miege at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium. The Stags have won four straight state titles and have had their way in Class 4A the last several years, including this season with a 76-8 win over Labette County to start the playoffs and a 49-20 victory over Pittsburg last week.

“We tell the kids every single day over summer weights that we train to beat the best and Miege has the track record that says they are pretty good,” Ebenstein said. “This is what we work for and we are going to come out and give em hell.”

 

LOU               7             21           6             14 – 48

PIP                 0             0             0             0 – 0

 

SCORING SUMMARY

First quarter

L: Madden Rutherford 1 run (Drake Varns kick)

 

Second quarter

L: Austin Moore 6 run (Varns kick)

L: Rutherford 1 run (Varns kick)

L: Brayden Gage 10 run (Varns kick)

 

Third quarter

L: Blue Caplinger 20 run (kick failed)

 

Fourth quarter

L: Rutherford 50 run (Varns kick)

L: Brandon Cooper 80 pass from Rutherford (Varns kick)

 

STATISTICS

RUSHING: Austin Moore 11-68, Madden Rutherford 11-68; Blue Caplinger 13-59; Brayden Gage 5-31; Charlie Koontz 1-3

PASSING: Rutherford 5-11-165-1

RECEIVING: Brandon Cooper 1-80; Blue Caplinger 2-47; Austin Moore 2-39

TACKLES: Charlie Koontz 7, Brian Houck 5, Jorge LeBron 4, Blue Caplinger 4, Kiefer Tucker 4, Noah Larson 4, Garrett Harding 4, Beckett Rasmussen 3, Ben Wiedenmann 3, Jay Scollin 3, Tanner Belcher 3, James Foote 3, Brayden White 3, Gabe Rader 2, Michael Waldron 2, Austin Moore 2, Andrew Krause 2, Brandon Cooper 1, Dylan Knipp 1, Justin Collins 1, Jonathan DePriest 1.




Wrigley reaches end of successful football career

Lincoln University senior, and Louisburg High School graduate, Brenton Wrigley will play his final collegiate football game next Saturday after spending the last two years with the Blue Tigers as the team’s long snapper.

 

In a little more than a week, Brenton Wrigley will put on the pads one final time.

Football has served Wrigley well the last four years as he has spent time at two colleges and worked his way onto a Division II program as a long snapper. It hasn’t always been easy for Wrigley, but then again, life as a college football player isn’t supposed to be.

Wrigley, who is a 2015 Louisburg High School graduate, will be honored next Saturday when his Lincoln Blue Tigers host McKendree on Senior Day. It figures to be an emotional day for Wrigley and his family as he says his goodbyes to the Jefferson City, Mo., program.

“It will be a little bittersweet, and I don’t think it will hit me that football is over until after the season,” Wrigley said. “My mind set is to be the best that I can be and help this team with anything they need. I’m definitely going to miss the workouts with my teammates and waking up at 5 a.m. to grind with them.”

Being a long snapper isn’t a position that has a lot of glory – in fact – most people don’t even notice them out there at times. However, it has been one that Wrigley has embraced in the last decade and one that has helped find playing time a two different schools.

Brenton Wrigley

Following graduation from Louisburg, Wrigley made his way to Fort Scott Community College for two years and then eventually moved onto to Lincoln, where he has helped the Blue Tiger special teams.

“I’ve always been a long snapper and my dad (Ryan Wrigley) taught me when I was at a young age,” he said. “I’m still getting it down and it is a work in progress. A bunch of technique is required and I’m always learning from either watching the pros or watching film on YouTube.”

Wrigley honed in on his craft at Fort Scott and he enjoyed his time with the junior college program, which he believed prepared him for the Division II level.

“The best memories for me came from juco because we were all grinding to make it out of Fort Scott,” Wrigley said. “I made some incredible friends there like Chris Flowers, Andrew Carter, Austin Wolfe, Logan Edwards and Dakota Crichton. These people are my family and making it out of the struggle with them is something that I’ll never forget.”

As seemless as Wrigley made the transition seem from Fort Scott to Lincoln seem, it wasn’t always that easy.

“When I first got here, Lincoln was kind of challenging because I was the like the new kid on the block and I didn’t know anyone on campus,” he said. “But now that I have been here for a while, I’ve gained more friends on and off the football team. College football has its ups and downs, but it is fun playing with a bunch of individuals that have the same common goal as you.”

The normal grind of school and football is hard for many student athletes, but when you have to worry about your health on top it, its adds another level of stress.

Wrigley is diabetic and he has had to deal with the disease for a little more than a decade. It is something that presents its fair share of challenges, but nothing he hasn’t been able to overcome.

“In almost 11 years of having diabetes, it was struggle early dealing with it because I was new to it all,” Wrigley said. “It’s still hard because my blood sugar fluctuates depending on the amount of activity I do. I’ve learned to check my blood sugar before games, during halftime and when I get back to the locker room after the game. I always carry fruit snacks, or something like that around all the time to make sure I am ready to go.”

Working hard on the football field isn’t the only thing Wrigley has shined at during his two years at Lincoln. Before the start of the season, Wrigley was awarded the Division II Academic Achievement Award by the Athletic Directors Association.

To be eligible for the award, student-athletes must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or higher and have completed at least four semesters at their institution.

It is an honor that Wrigley, who also earned academic awards while at Fort Scott, takes pride in as it is challenging to find a balance between athletics and academics.

Brenton Wrigley has long snapped the last four years, including two at Fort Scott Community College and two at Lincoln.

“It is difficult because my whole day is taken up with football and meetings from 5 in the morning to around 5 or 6 at night with classes in-between,” he said. “I try to spend the hours I’m not doing anything football related in the library doing homework or studying for a test.

“I take my classes very seriously because at the end of the day football won’t always be there, but that degree will. I’m very proud of those honors that I’ve received. I strive to perform well on and off the field.”

Wrigley knows the opportunity he has received at Lincoln wouldn’t have been possible with the support of his parents, Ryan Wrigley and Krista Stramel, previous football coaches and Lincoln head coach Steven Smith.

“I’ve made many more friends here at Lincoln and the coaches will always be here for me no matter what the situation is,” Wrigley said. “Coach Smith is the one that got me to Lincoln University. He believed in me and I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity that he has given me.”




Louisburg rolls Ottawa to begin state playoff run

Louisburg senior Josh Casey hauls in a touchdown pass in the second half of Louisburg’s first-round playoff game Friday against Ottawa at Wildcat Stadium. The Wildcats defeated the Cyclones, 56-8.

 

Coming off an emotionally-charged game with rival Paola the week before in which it claimed the Frontier League title, Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein was mildly concerned how his team would respond.

The No. 1 seed Wildcats hosted winless No. 16 Ottawa in the first-round of the Class 4A state playoffs Friday. Louisburg shutout Ottawa earlier in the year and he didn’t want his team to overlook the Cyclones.

As it turned out, there was absolutely nothing to be worried about.

Louisburg dominated from the opening kickoff and never looked back in a 56-8 victory over Ottawa. The Wildcats advanced to the regional round of the playoffs and will host No. 9 seed Piper this Friday at Wildcat Stadium.

“It was good,” Ebenstein said of the win. “Trying to keep our kids composed coming off a big win like we had last week, and coming back here and staying grounded, I think they did a great job with that. We were able to get some guys in the game in the second half and they knew what we wanted them to do. That is what we hope for nine weeks into the season and I am pretty happy with them.”

Senior Brandon Cooper got the Wildcats off and running when he returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown, and after Drake Varns extra point, the Wildcats took a 7-0 lead.

Austin Moore (21) brings down an Ottawa runner while Brayden Gage (10) comes in to finish him off Friday.

After the Wildcat defense forced an Ottawa punt on its first possession, Louisburg went down and scored again as Blue Caplinger found the endzone on a 27-yard touchdown run.

Louisburg’s defense struck again as senior Beckett Rasmussen intercepted an Ottawa pass early in the second quarter and the Wildcats quickly turned that into points. Two plays later, senior running back Austin Moore broke free for a 57-yard touchdown run.

Moore found the endzone again, this time on a 3-yard run, to put Louisburg up 26-0 with 2 minutes and 28 seconds left in the first half. The Wildcats still weren’t done as their defense forced another Ottawa punt and the offense drove right back down the field.

With a few seconds remaining in the second quarter, Varns converted a 34-yard field goal to give Louisburg a 29-0 lead at halftime.

The Wildcats, which defeated Ottawa 25-0 earlier in the year, continued to pour it on. Defensively, Moore intercepted a pass and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown to open the third quarter.

Louisburg kicker Drake Varns (30) celebrates with his teammates after making a field goal to close out the first half Friday against Ottawa.

Quarterback Madden Rutherford got involved a little later when he connected with Josh Casey in the endzone on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 422 left in the third quarter.

Louisburg gradually put its second-string players in after that and those Wildcats found success as well. Brian Houck had a pair of strong runs down the sideline that set up a 1-yard touchdown, his first score of the season, to put Louisburg up 49-0.

The Wildcats scored one more time when backup quarterback Noah Bell, a.k.a. ‘Roll Tide,’ came in the game. In his second play from scrimmage, he handed the ball off to sophomore Ben Wiedenmann, who ran 66 yards for a touchdown and sealed the win for Louisburg.

It was a much different game for Louisburg the second time around as it didn’t have to deal with a cold and muddy Wildcat Stadium field.

“Our cleats worked this time,” Ebenstein joked. “The last game we ran iso like 27 times and stretch like 20 times. We just didn’t want to turn the ball over. This time we wanted to open it up a little bit and run our stuff and we did that in the first half. The second half was a lot of fun to be able to get some of the backups in and have this experience as well.”

Louisburg backup quarterback Noah Bell (aka Roll Tide) hands the ball off to Ben Wiedenmann for a touchdown late in the game Friday.

Moore led the Wildcats in rushing with 115 yards on just 11 carries, while Rutherford had 92 yards through the air. Casey and Brayden Gage led Louisburg in receiving with 34 and 29 yards, respectively.

Ottawa just wasn’t able to move the ball on the Wildcat defense as it held the Cyclones to just 214 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers.

Now the Wildcats will need to get ready for a Piper team that they defeated earlier in the season, 28-21. It was one of the closest games of the year for Louisburg and the Wildcats realize it will be another difficult challenge this time around.

“We are going to come back prepared and get ready for another week of football,” Ebenstein said. “I know the guys will be ready to go and we are going to come back here and hopefully we will do this again.”

 

LOU               13           16           20           7 – 56

OTT               0             0             0             8 – 8

 

SCORING SUMMARY

First quarter

L: Brandon Cooper 83 kickoff return (Drake Varns kick)

L: Blue Caplinger 27 run (kick failed)

 

Second quarter

L: Austin Moore 57 run (run failed)

L: Moore 3 run (Varns kick)

L: Drake Varns 34 FG

 

Third quarter

L: Moore 23 interception return (Varns kick)

L: Josh Casey 12 pass from Madden Rutherford (kick failed)

L: Brian Houck 1 run (Varns kick)

 

Fourth quarter

O: 20 touchdown pass (pass converted)

L: Ben Wiedenmann 66 run (Varns kick)

 

STATISTICS

RUSHING: Austin Moore 11-115; Ben Wiedenmann 2-67; Blue Caplinger 6-56; Brian Houck 6-49; Madden Rutherford 6-24; Jorge LeBron 1-6; Brayden Gage 1-1

PASSING: Madden Rutherford 7-11-92

RECEIVING: Josh Casey 2-34; Brayden Gage 2-29; Austin Moore 1-18; Blue Caplinger 2-11

TACKLES: Brian Houck 6, Austin Moore 5, Tanner Belcher 5, Brayden White 4, Brayden Gage 3, Jorge LeBron 3, Charlie Koontz 3, Blue Caplinger 3, Ben Wiedenmannn 3, Jay Scollin 3, Kiefer Tucker 3, Noah Larson 3, Garrett Harding 3, Jonathan DePriest 3, Kaden Oehlert 2, Beckett Rasmussen 2, Brandon Cooper 2, James Foote 2, Drake Varns 1, Andrew Krause 1, Ian McGuire 1, Cole Willliams 1, Hunter Day 1.




LEAGUE CHAMPS: Louisburg knocks off Paola for No. 1 seed

Louisburg’s Blue Caplinger (right) celebrates with teammate Jonathan DePriest following Caplinger’s touchdown to open the game Friday at Paola High School. The Wildcats captured the Frontier League title with a 25-7 win over the Panthers.

 

PAOLA – Louisburg quarterback Madden Rutherford tried to avoid the internet prior to his team’s game with Paola.

At the same time, Rutherford just couldn’t help himself. He wanted to know what kind of chances people gave the Wildcats in Friday’s battle of unbeatens.

Rutherford didn’t like what he saw.

“Coming in there was a lot of hype from the Panther side of things and a lot of people were doubting us,” Rutherford said. “I tried not to look at all the predictions online, but a lot of them had Paola either winning or winning big. That just fueled our fire.”

Louisburg certainly had a lot of fire as the Wildcats put together their best game of the season at the perfect time. The Wildcats handed Paola its first loss of the season with a 25-7 victory at Panther Stadium, and at the same time earned the Frontier League title and the No. 1 seed in the state playoffs. It was the Wildcats’ first league title since 2010.

“It is just another win to be honest, but being able to come over to Paola with both teams being undefeated and a league championship on the line, it is true testament to these coaches and these players,” Louisburg coach Robert Ebenstein said. “They bought in and they worked their butts off and they earned this. This is all for them.”

The two rivals created a festive atmosphere in Paola as the towns filled the stands on both sides, while Louisburg fans were two to three rows deep behind the fence next to the stands cheering on the Wildcats.

The Wildcat players appreciated the support and let the fans know how much by holding Paola to seven points and forcing four turnovers on defense. Offensively, the Wildcats converted several big plays that led to four touchdowns.

“That is huge,” Ebenstein said. “I have never seen Louisburg travel as well as this and I have been here a few years. We have played some playoffs games in Independence and Chanute, but it just seemed like the whole town was here and it was jammed pack with fans.

“I just want to thank everyone for coming out and supporting us and being able to come home for the rest of the season is going to be a good feeling for sure.”

Louisburg senior Noah Larson (54) celebrates a big stop for the Wildcat defense Friday in Paola.

Rutherford certainly did his part as he was involved in all four scores for the Wildcats and made a little history in the process. He became the first Wildcat in school history to pass for, rush for and a catch a touchdown in the same game according to Ebenstein.

The junior quarterback certainly got some help as it was a game full of great catches from receivers Brayden Gage and Blue Caplinger that led to touchdown scores.

Louisburg opened up the passing game on the Panthers as it knew Paola would be focusing on senior running Austin Moore, who entered the game with more than 1,000 yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns.

“That was the plan,” Ebenstein said. “Everyone in the world knows about Austin, and he is a stud, but the greatest thing about Austin is that I don’t think he cared one bit that we didn’t call his number 27 times. We were going to take what they gave us, we executed and those other guys played great.”

Louisburg quarterback Madden Rutherford escapes the pocket to make pass Friday in Paola.

Rutherford, who finished the game with 172 yards through the air, led the Wildcats to a touchdown on their first possession of the game. He found Caplinger for a 25-yard touchdown pass that completed a nine-play drive, and after a missed extra point, Louisburg led 6-0.

On Paola’s first play from scrimmage, the Wildcats forced a fumble and recovered to keep the Panthers off the board. In fact, they kept them scoreless for most of the first half.

Early in the second quarter, Louisburg got its passing game going again when Rutherford completed a 40 yard pass down the sideline to Gage. The Louisburg senior receiver went up in the air for a jump ball and pulled it out of the Paola defenders’ hands for the completion.

Two players later, Rutherford found Gage again, this time for a 38-yard touchdown to give Louisburg a 12-0 lead.

On Louisburg’s next drive, it was Caplinger’s turn again as he made a 26-yard diving catch at the Paola 10-yard line to set up the Wildcats’ next score. On a third down on the 9-yard line, Caplinger took the pitch from Rutherford, set his feet and threw it across the field to Rutherford who scored on the halfback pass to go up 19-0.

Louisburg’s Garrett Harding (58), Austin Moore (21) and Charlie Koontz combine for a tackle late in the game Friday against Paola.

“It is amazing,” Caplinger said of the win. “This is everything we have been working for. We just wanted to come out and get them down quick because we knew they would be up for it, being a rivalry game.

“Madden was putting the throws on the spot and we were catching them. It was awesome to see and everything was falling our way.”

Louisburg got its offense going thanks to the offensive line of Noah Larson, Kiefer Tucker, Brayden White, Garrett Harding, Jonathan DePriest and tight end Michael Waldron.

Paola, which had given up 25 points all season, gave up 25 points to the Wildcats in three quarters and had never trailed all season coming into the game.

“I was impressed by our passing game,” Tucker said. “We made some amazing catches out there and Madden was throwing it good. The line was giving him great time to throw it and everyone was just clicking.

“Scoring first was huge for us. They hadn’t trailed all year and I don’t think they knew what to do. They were getting frustrated at each other and you could see it on the field. We just kept our composure and we played like it was 0-0 the entire time.”

Paola tried to get some momentum going into halftime as quarterback Seth Richmond connected with Corbin Gant on a 79-yard touchdown pass down the sideline.

Then to start the second half, the Panthers got the ball again and drove into the redzone. The Wildcat defense came up big as they forced Paola to turn the ball over downs and frustrate the Panthers even more.

After all the passing the Wildcats did in the first half, they got their running game going in the third quarter as Moore reversed field position for a 48-yard run. Rutherford then found Waldron on a 28-yard pass that set up another score.

Rutherford ran the ball down to the 1-yard line on the next play and followed it up with a quarterback sneak for a touchdown and a 25-7 Louisburg lead.

“Coach E was giving me some good play calls,” Rutherford said. “They could see a lot of things from the sideline and the booth and that made things pretty easy for me. The receivers ran crisp routes and Blue and Brayden just went up and got the ball. Michael (Waldron) also had a nice catch on third down as well, which was huge for us. I couldn’t be prouder of my guys.

Senior cornerback Beckett Rasmussen races down the field after an interception in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, Louisburg forced four turnovers on the night. The Wildcats got two interceptions from Beckett Rasmussen, including one with three minutes left in the game to help seal the win for the Wildcats. Moore and fellow linebacker Charlie Koontz both recovered fumbles after Tucker and White forced them out.

Moore also led the Wildcats with 11 tackles, while Koontz and Larson each added eight in the win. Gage and Harding finished with six tackles and the Wildcat defense came up with the big plays when they needed them.

“I can’t say enough good things about (defensive coordinator) Jeff (Lohse),” Ebenstein said. “He knows his stuff and he teaches it better than anybody. The kids pick it up and they just fire around and play for each other. The defense was just flying tonight. They played great.”

The win gives the Wildcats the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and they will host every game at Wildcat Stadium. Louisburg (8-0) will face No. 16 Ottawa (0-8) at 7 p.m. on Friday in a rematch of the mud bowl two weeks ago that left the field unrecognizable.

Louisburg head coach Robert Ebenstein (front) and assistant Ty Pfannenstiel celebrate a big play in the first half.

“Our field is all messed up with the mud bowl we had earlier, but that is ok because I like our field,” Gage said. “It can be an advantage for us going into the playoffs. This just feels amazing. This is what we have been working for all season.”

As big as the win over Paola was, the Wildcats realize the true season is just now getting started.

“We worked all year for this and all the hard work has definitely paid off with all those extra reps and running after practice,” Tucker said. “It has all paid off, and the best thing about it is that it isn’t even over yet. We are just getting started. We haven’t put four quarters together yet but we are getting closer.”

For a photo gallery from the game, make sure to click here.

 

LOU               6             13           6             0 – 25

PAO               0             7             0             0 – 7

 

SCORING SUMMARY

First quarter

L: Blue Caplinger 25 pass from Madden Rutherford (kick failed)

 

Second quarter

L: Brayden Gage 38 pass from Rutherford (run failed)

L: Rutherford 9 pass from Caplinger (Drake Varns kick)

P: Corbin Gant 79 pass from Seth Richmond (Ryan Wokutch kick)

 

Third quarter

L: Rutherford 1 run (kick failed)

 

STATISTICS

RUSHING – Austin Moore 18-90; Madden Rutherford 8-51; Blue Caplinger 3-25; Brayden Gage 4-21

PASSING – Madden Rutherford 7-14-172; Blue Caplinger 1-1-9

RECEIVING – Brayden Gage 3-84; Blue Caplinger 2-51; Michael Waldron 1-28; Madden Rutherford 1-9

TACKLES – Austin Moore 11, Charlie Koontz 8, Noah Larson 8, Brayden Gage 6, Brayden White 6, Blue Caplinger 5, Beckett Rasmussen 4, Kiefer Tucker 4, Tanner Belcher 3, Jorge LeBron 3, Brandon Cooper 2, Ben Wiedenmann 2, Andy Hupp 1, Jay Scollin 1.