Hot Springs needed a conference win over Lima on Senior Night last Friday to secure the No. 1 seed from the West Division in the 6-man state playoffs, and the Savage Heat cruised to their second straight shutout victory — burying Lima 69-0.
The Heat will host Denton-Geyser-Stanford, known as DGS, at 1 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the 16-team playoffs. The Bearcats are the No. 4 seed from the North Division. Noxon earned a playoff berth by routing Valley Christian 56-14 last Friday night in Alberton. The Red Devils draw Geraldine-Highwood, the top seed from the North Division, and play the Rivals at 1 p.m. Saturday in Highwood. (See end of story for the other first-round 6-man playoff pairings.)
“It’s a sense of urgency,” Hot Spring head coach Jim Lawson said of every game for every team in the state playoffs. “It’s one-week seasons now. You have to come to play every weekend.”
Six-man football is not “all” about offense.
“Defense is what really separates the teams from each other. That’s going to make a huge difference,” Lawson said.
DGS settled for the No. 4 seed with a 45-14 loss to Sunburst, which grabbed the third seed from the North Division.
“It seems like there are a lot of different kids scoring,” Lawson said DGS. “They’re a little bit balance, but they like to run the football.”
Following the pattern for recent games, Hot Springs put big numbers on the scoreboard in the first half against Lima. The Heat led 39-0 after one quarter and 57-0 at intermission.
“It was another good effort by our kids,” Lawson said. “We played extremely well defensively.”
It was a combination of offense, defense and special teams. “All three phases came together,” the coach said.
LUKE WATERBURY opened the scoring with an 8-yard run. Then Tyler Knudsen returned a Lima punt 40 yards for a touchdown, and later in the first quarter Brandon Knudsen took back a Bears punt 42 yards for a score. In between, the Heat scored on a 50-yard jaunt by Brandon Knudsen, a fumble recovery in the end zone by Waterbury, and a Kyle Lawson 12-yard pass reception from Knudsen.
“We had a lot of short fields to work with,” coach Lawson said.
In the second period, Brandon Knudsen hooked up with Tyler Carr for a 30-yard scoring aerial, then Jack McAllister ran 19 yards for a TD and Kyle Lawson ran four yards for another score.
Lawson and Jesse Uski had touchdown runs in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
Hot Springs’ defense forced four Lima turnovers. The Knudsen brothers each had an interception, and Uski and Waterbury had fumble recoveries.
“We had a lot of different people getting involved again,” coach Lawson said of the Heat offensive production. “It was a pretty good overall team effort.
“One area we need to work on is out PATs (points after touchdown). We struggled and I don’t know why,” the coach said.
Hot Springs will suit 10 players for Saturday’s home playoff game against DGS. Exchange student Nick Costa, an exchange student from Italy, tore an ACL in a knee during the Sept. 28 game against Sheridan. That ended his season in uniform.
CLASS C 6-MAN
Friday, Oct. 26
Bridger (#3 South) at Richey-Lambert (#2 East), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 27
All games at 1 p.m.
Denton-Geyser-Stanford (#4 North) at Hot Springs (#1 West)
Jordan (#3 East) at Roy-Winifred (#2 South)
Noxon (#4 West) at Geraldine-Highwood (#1 North)
Shields Valley (#4 South) at Wibaux (#1 East)
White Sulphur Springs (#3 West) at Big Sandy (#2 North)
Westby-Grenora (#4 East ) at Grass Range-Winnett (#1 South)
Sunburst (#3 North) at West Yellowstone (#2 West)
Friday & Saturday, Nov. 2 & 3
Denton-Geyser-Stanford/Hot Springs winner vs. Jordan/Roy-Winifred winner
Noxon/Geraldine-Highwood winner vs. Bridger/Richey-Lambert winner
Shields Valley/Wibaux winner vs. White Sulphur Springs/Big Sandy winner
Westby-Grenora/Grass Range-Winnett winner vs. Sunburst/West Yellowstone winner
Friday & Saturday, Nov. 9-10, TBD
Saturday, Nov. 17, TBD