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Top stories 2013 - Osborne, Wallace County compete in state title games

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

The Osborne and Wallace County High School football teams had solid 2012 seasons. Osborne opened 6-1, but suffered multiple injuries in Week 8 and lost its final two games to miss the Eight-Man Division I postseason with a 6-3 record. Wallace County went 10-1, but played a subpar game in the Eight-Man Division II sub-state contest and lost to Thunder Ridge.

This fall, Osborne and Wallace County returned nearly all of their teams. The experience and staying relatively injury-free helped both squads improve. Osborne went 13-0, set several eight-man state records and won the Eight-Man Division I state championship. Wallace County finished 12-1 and lost to Baileyville-B&B in the Eight-Man Division II state title.

Osborne and Wallace County's performances earned distinction as one of The Hays Daily News' Top Stories for 2013.

Osborne won its second title, first since a Class 3A crown in 1983. Running backs Kenton Ubelaker and Maverick LeRock earned HDN Super 11 honors and helped the Bulldogs set an eight-man mark with 760 points.

"It's an awesome feeling," LeRock said after the title. "It's amazing. I am glad that we can bring it back. We have got a great bunch of seniors. We all work hard. We all love the sport."

Sophomore quarterback Jake Tiernan, the coach's son, broke the Kansas eight-man record with a 77.5 completion rate. The team completed 77.6 percent of passes, which also set an eight-man state record. Coach Tiernan has won three state titles, two at B&B.

"Our line is great," Jake Tiernan said. "They block their butts off the whole time. The defense can't get through. Backs are obviously good. Give us any hole at all, at least those two will be through it. Our receivers catch the ball, two or three great receivers."

Remarkably, the Bulldogs started just nine players combined, including seven both ways.

None of the nine missed a game, though multiple players had missed time the last two years.

"If the wrong guys would get hurt, just one of them, we are scrambling then," coach Tiernan said. "Everybody has managed to stay healthy and suit up for every game. That's huge."

Ubelaker finished with 1,545 rushing yards and 25 scores, while LeRock collected 1,344 rushing yards and 27 rushing TDs. Overall, Ubelaker had 2,633 all-purpose yards, 39 TDs and 50 conversions.

Osborne tallied at least 40 points in every game, including a 56-8 win against Jetmore-Hodgeman County in the state title, a contest called in the fourth quarter because of the 45-point mercy rule.

"We made it look a lot easier than what it was," coach Tiernan said. "Hodgeman County is a great team."

Wallace County reached the title game for the first time since a championship in 2007. The Wildcats allowed just 94 points behind a defense that returned six starters. Senior quarterback/safety Kyle Gfeller earned HDN Super 11 honors.

"A scouting report from Coach Ayers has you ready to play a game and ready for almost anything that they throw at you," senior lineman Clay Schemm said. "We will be going through and he will say, 'Make sure you watch for this, they have only ran it once, but we want to be ready for it.' It's nice to know that he has prepared you for anything."

The Wildcats lost 42-19 to B&B, in its last season of existence, in the title. Wallace County fumbled four times in the contest.

"I am proud of the way the guys battled," Ayers said.

"It's hard in a game like this, when things just continually don't seem to fall into place."