Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Surging Holton Ready for Rematch with Columbus

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Surging Holton Ready for Rematch with Columbus

Article excerpt

HOLTON -- Even though it's never really been at the forefront of their minds, deep down, Holton has been waiting for this moment.

When No. 1 Columbus (11-0) comes to town for Friday's 6 p.m. Class 4A Division II semifinal, the Titans will bring with them a whole lot of baggage Holton left on their field a year ago. A whole lot of "What ifs" and "What could have beens" manifested from a heartbreaking 22-21 Columbus win over the Wildcats in last year's playoff quarterfinal.

The loss, sealed by Jace McDown's 2-yard run with nine seconds left and ensuing PAT, brought a stunning end to a season in which Holton had visions of playing in another state championship game.

"We felt like had we won that game, we would have played in the championship," Holton coach Brooks Barta said. "But they were a good team and made fewer mistakes than we did. They got a couple breaks and we made a couple mistakes. We pointed to the mistakes we made in that game and they were atypical of what we've done in the past. We've been in that situation many, many times and not made those kind of mistakes.

"We cost ourselves a chance to advance."

That said, revenge isn't the biggest thing on Holton's mind as it enters Friday's rematch.

"No. 1, they want a chance to play in the state championship," Barta said. "That's the main motivation."

Holton, which led last year's playoff game 14-0 early, had a chance to clinch the win late in the fourth quarter, driving to the Columbus 12 with less than five minutes to play. But self-inflicted wounds (bobbled snap, false start) stalled the drive and gave the Titans an opening they exploited.

Those same kind of mistakes plagued Holton early this season as well as the Wildcats dropped three of their first five games. In each of the losses -- 23-22 in overtime to Silver Lake, 20-13 at Maize South and 27-13 to Nemaha Central -- Holton put itself in position to win, but made crucial mistakes that hindered the effort. …

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