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Seneca Indians advance through first round of regional football playoff
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There were lots of expectations about what might happen when Seneca played Cassville for the second week in a row—this time in the first round of the post-season playoffs.

Would the Indians fare better or worst playing the Comets at home last Friday after defeating them on the road the Friday before in a non-conference football game? While there might have been a variety of predictions as to what was going to happen in the rematch, it’s probably safe to say no one expected what actually happened.

“We came out flat, which isn’t what you want to do in a playoff game,” Seneca football coach Steve Kramer said after his team posted a 14-0 win over the Comets.

The Indians did score touchdowns on their first two possessions on short runs by their powerful running back John Alanis. That probably didn’t surprise too many folks from either team. The surprise was the Indians would not score again. When Alanis flipped the ball to the official after he scored the second TD of the first quarter, the score was 14-0 and that’s how it ended.

Kramer credited Alanis’ running with putting together those first two-touchdown drives. The coach pointed out Alanis was able to get 10 and 12 yards per carry despite the inadequate blocking he got from the offensive line in the first two drives.

While Cassville mounted several solid drives in the game, they never scored just like the previous week’s game.

What happened?

Well, injuries happened for the Indians. One of them included a frightening broken leg sustained by running back Jordan Boone, as he caught his second pass of the night early in the second quarter.

Boone caught a short pass in the second quarter much like the one he caught in the first quarter that set up Alanis’ second touchdown. It was third and long, when quarterback Trenton Payne found Boone over the middle and he took over for the first down.

Alanis had left the game with a sprained ankle on the play before Boone was hurt. He re-entered the game in the next series of downs.

Boone was brought down as he made the first down in what appeared to be a rather routine tackle by Comet defensive back Nate Baliff. However, he didn’t get up.

In obvious extreme pain, he was attended to by an athletic trainer from Gundersen Lutheran, as his coach knelt next to him. As the trainer continued to work on Boone, his mother came onto the field and talked with him.

Then, some Seneca First Responders got on the field. Shortly, the Ocooch Mountain Rescue ambulance, which had been standing by behind the other end zone in the parking lot, was on the field.

With help from the trainer, EMTs and an official, Boone was gently placed on a stretcher and put into the ambulance. There was applause from all quarters as the ambulance door closed and the vehicle left the field.

Boone broke the fibula in his right leg, Kramer explained later.

Play resumed and the Indians appeared poised to score the next touchdown of the game, but turned the ball over on downs as Seneca receivers dropped the ball several times, including on a fourth down play at the back of the end zone where both Troy Trautsch and Ryan Hartley appeared to have a chance of catching the ball.

After suffering the sprained ankle, Alanis did not seem up to his usual running production and ended the game with 107 yards on 32 carries, a 3.3-yard average per carry. Those solid numbers are well below the senior running back’s normal stellar performance this season.

What happened to the Comets’ offense?

Cassville struggled at times with miscues, including fumbles and some key penalties, but the main thing that happened to the Comet offense was a fired-up Seneca defense. Again and again, the Indian defense stopped Cassville in the second half.

“Our defense won those games for us,” Kramer said. “The defense allowed no points in two games against Cassville.”

Kramer feels the defense is “carrying the team” this season. He praised defensive lineman Jared Grimsled, who he said has become a dominant force in the defense in the last three games.

How bad was it for the Comets?

Well, the 27 yards Jordan Boone got on his first two receptions early in the game exceeded the total passing yardage for Cassville for the game—21 yards.

Seneca quarterback Trenton Payne was 7-17 for 139 yards.

“Trenton Payne threw the ball really well,” Kramer said.

Next up for the Indians in the post-season are the Hillsboro Tigers. Seneca will travel to Hillsboro Saturday for a 2 p.m. game.

Down by ten, Hillsboro pulled off a come-from behind 34-32 over the Potosi Chieftains last week. The Tigers scored two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to snatch the win. The Tigers like the Indians have an 8-2 overall record.

Kramer acknowledged Hillsboro will be a tough opponent. The Tigers have a “really good program” and are “always at the top of their conference,” according to the Seneca coach.

“Their heart and perseverance won the game for them last week,” Kramer said of the Tigers. “We’re going to need to play up to their level to beat them.”