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Panthers claw past Trojans, 29-21

Pittsburg-Colgan
puts brakes
on Hillsboro season

Staff writer

   When it comes to the Kansas High School football postseason, only one team has had more success than the Pittsburg-St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers — now Class 2A powerhouse Silver Lake. 

The Panthers are expected to win, which they have, racking up an impressive 89 wins in 115 games for a 77 win percentage since 1969. 

Not to mention five state titles, including fourt straight from 2000-2003 for National Hall-of-Fame coach and now senator, Chuck Smith. 

Pittsburg was a speed-bump for the Trojans a year ago, eliminating Hillsboro, 45-20, before tumbling in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Olpe. 

The long trip to Southeast Kansas was a tough one again this year with the Panthers ousting the Trojans again, but by a much closer 29-21 score, ending Hillsboro’s season at 6-4. 

No matter what happens at the end of the month in the title game, the triumph will belong as much to the Trojans as much as it will the state champion. 

Disaster hit the entire Hillsboro community, not just the high school, when first-year coach Demetrius Cox’s son, Demarius, tragically passed away in early June while attending summer camp in Colorado. 

Instead of sitting back and wallowing in the sadness, Demetrius and his young Trojans faced and conquered adversity.

The Trojans won over their community with heart and courage. 

The ending was still tough with the Trojans jumping out to a 6-0 lead with Hunter Hein punching it in for a two-yard score in the first quarter. 

Hillsboro had no answer for the Panthers’ two-headed monster of Domenico Bevilacqua, and Jalen VanBecelaere in the backfield, though, with the tandem supplying all four of Colgan’s touchdowns. 

The duo rolled up 213 of the Panthers’ 297 yards rushing with Bevilacqua’s game-high 113 and two touchdowns each as part of a 303-yard entirety.

Colgan grabbed its first lead just before the end of the first quarter with Bevilacqua ripping off a 61-yard touchdown. 

The lead changed hands four more times as Hein put Hillsboro back on top, 12-7, hauling in a 44-yard pass from Matthew Potucek early in the second quarter. 

The senior duo of Hein and Caleb Potucek provided all three of the Trojans’ touchdowns in their final game in a Hillsboro uniform, combining for 102 of Matthew’s 137 yards passing on 5-for-11. 

The point-after attempts have been a sore spot for the Trojans all year, and they were again with Hillsboro leaving points on the field, going 0-for-3.

The Panthers turned to the pair again to go in at halftime with a 14-12 edge on a two-yard touchdown. 

Dillon Boldt put Hillsboro in front again to start the second half, connecting on a 29-yard field goal for the 15-14 lead. 

That was the final time the Trojans would hold the lead as the Panthers again answered right away with a 3-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion for the 22-15 advantage. 

Matthew went deep for his brother Caleb one last time for a 48-yard score to close out the third quarter. 

In an attempt to regain the lead with a two-point conversion, the Panthers denied Hillsboro to keep the 22-21 lead. 

Colgan tacked on a 9-yard touchdown for the final.

The Trojans turned in their usual balanced offensive attack with 137 yards passing and 160 rushing with Matthew finishing one yard shy of 100. 

Overall, Hillsboro was just 6 total yards less than Colgan, but converted on 46 percent on third down opposed to the Panthers’ 40 percent. 

While the Trojans will certainly miss Hein and Caleb Potucek, Cox’s young team should return plenty of experience to improve on this season’s success.

Last modified Nov. 14, 2019

 

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