By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Lamar and Sarcoxie, the top two seeds in Class 2 District 4, are home for semifinal games tonight.
The top-seeded Tigers (8-2) face Ash Grove (7-3) while No. 2 Sarcoxie (8-2) entertains Butler (7-3). Kickoff is at 7 at both sites.
Ash Grove at Lamar
The Pirates and Lamar combined for 131 points in their first-round district victories last Thursday.
Ash Grove advanced with a 61-34 victory over El Dorado Springs while Lamar blanked Stockton 70-0.
The Pirates feature two 1,000-yard rushers. Logan Allred has 1,306 yards and 21 touchdowns on 143 carries, and Austin Hurst has 1,004 yards and 12 TDs on 119 attempts.
Ash Grove quarterback Sean Mulkey has hit 65-of-137 yards for 880 scores and six TDs. Garrett Cline and Alex O’Brien have 23 and 20 catches, respectively, for a combined 610 yards.
“Ash Grove is fast,” Lamar coach Scott Bailey said. “We compete against them in track in the spring. We know they have some kids who can run. Their main thing is to get the running game going on the edge, and that opens up the inside game and passing game.”
Lamar accumulated 478 rushing yards and 88 yards through the air over Stockton. The Tigers have won eight straight since losses to Seneca and Cassville in the second and third weeks of the season.
“I felt like our team came out and maybe was a little more focused to start district play than we’ve been in conference play,” Bailey said. “Special teams gave our offense short fields. Our defense had multiple 3-and-outs and got our offense back on the field, normally with good field position.”
Last season’s state championship run naturally provides incentive for this year.
“Any time you can have some success in the playoffs and kids get to experience that type of high-energy environment, I think they want it again,” Bailey said. “Last year our biggest game was playing in the (Edward Jones) dome, and the kids want it again.”
Lamar also has a strong 1-2 rushing attack with running back Jared Beshore (116 carries for 1,413 yards in nine games) and quarterback Levi Petersen (171 for 1,294 in 10 games). Both have 22 touchdowns for the season.
Linebackers Jade Morgan and Chad Rice lead the defense with 85 and 83 tackles, respectively.
Butler at Sarcoxie
Sarcoxie’s offensive line faces a big assignment tonight against Butler.
“They are big up front. They have four linemen who are over 6-foot-4, 250 pounds,’ Bears coach Luke Rader said. “We’re going to have to play well up front.
“They have a couple of running backs who are very good, usually out of the I or split-back. The same two kids play linebacker for them. The are a pretty big football team and pretty solid.”
Tanner McGuire has 1,120 yards and 16 touchdowns for Butler, which beat Warsaw 55-20 in the previous round, and Brett Miller has 555 yards and five scores. Quarterback Kolton Kauffman has thrown for 946 yards and 11 TDs.
Sarcoxie prevailed 35-7 over Diamond after leading 28-7 at the intermission.
Sarcoxie has averaged 314 rushing yards per game, led by Logan Jones (1,222 yards and 20 TDs), Jade Bloss (615 yards and six TDs), Ryder Cox (569 yards and four TDs) and Conner Jones (384 yards and six TDs).
“That’s where we make our hay,” Rader said. “We really take pride in our running game. We’ve been able to rotate some kids in at running back, and that’s great as far as keeping us healthy. And it keeps the defense honest by beating able to attack both sides of the formation.”