The Hodgeman County Longhorns football team heads to Newton, Kansas to take on the 12-0 Hanover Wildcats Saturday afternoon in the 8-Man Division II State Championship game.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m Saturday at Newton-Fischer Field.
At 12-0, Wildcats are the defending state champions in 8-Man Division II football, and are no strangers to recent state championship games. Since the start of the 2014 season, the Wildcats are a combined 48-2. In both 2014 and 2015, the Wildcats made the 8-Man Division I State Championship Game and lost, once to Spearville, once to Claflin-Central Plains.
Based out of Northeast Kansas, up north of Manhattan and Junction City and near the Nebraska border, they'll provide formidable challenges for the Longhorns.
"(They're) very big on the defensive line, and that's where we like to start to win, is to always gain control of the line of scrimmage, I think you always have to," Longhorns head coach Matt Housman said. "And they've been in (the) state (game) I think it is four consecutive years Division I now Division II. So they're a proven winner, they're good on the east so it's a game they're used to."
While the Longhorns haven't had as much success the last three seasons when it came to the state playoffs, the team this year has shown potential to exercise a demon or two.
There was, for instance, last week's win against the Otis-Bison Cougars. Before beating the Cougars 42-16 last week to advance, the Longhorns had lost the previous two games to the Cougars and been outscored by a combined score of 116-60.
Housman said this year's loss to the Cougars came at a time when the team was in bad health. Now though, the team is as healthy as ever.
"Physically we're about the best we've been been all year, so that's exciting," Housman said.
This year's players also are also very focused, Housman said.
"This group, it's not the loudest team I've had, but they're very focused," Housman said. "They don't scream and yell a lot but they play like they have a lot of energy."