Baldwin After watching each half of the Baldwin-Sabetha playoff game, it remained uncertain which team was the number-one ranked team in the state.
Sabetha proved it was the Class 4A's top-rated team, escaping a nearly-miraculous comeback from Baldwin. The Bluejays prevailed 30-19 in the Kansas Class 4A Regional Championship game at Liston Stadium Saturday night.
"The first half, we were kind of intimidated by them," running back Bryan Lash said. "In the second half, we knew they didn't have much and we almost pulled it out. If we had two more minutes, we would have won."
In the first half, Baldwin looked to be blown off its own turf. Sabetha rolled up 280 yards and led at halftime 24-0. Quarterback Benji Wertenberger rushed for 147 yards in the contest, followed by tailback Mark Prestwood's 140 yards and Wade Althouse's 72 for the Bluejays.
"We came out when we were warming out and we staring at them like they were superhuman," Bulldog quarterback Chad Scoby said. "I guess we thought they were so great because they were number one and undefeated."
However, Baldwin rolled over Sabetha in the second half. The Bulldogs scored three consecutive touchdowns to shave the deficit to 24-19 with 1:28 remaining.
"We got too far into a hole," Baldwin coach Bernie Bierman said. "We're a team that gets four yards and a cloud of dust and is not a great comeback team."
Baldwin's defense shut down the Bluejays, holding them to only 62 second-half yards.
"If we had come out and moved the ball, it would have been over," Sabetha coach John Garber said. "But we didn't and when you're facing one of the top eight teams in the state, it's going to be a dogfight. The momentum switched badly in their favor. That was the worst half of football we've played all season, which was due to Baldwin."
After an unsuccessful Baldwin onsides kick, Sabetha sealed the game when Prestwood broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown with :52 left.
"We came out with too little, too late," Bierman said. "But I couldn't be more proud of them, they showed a lot of character and dominated the best team in the state."
Lash led the Bulldogs with 130 yards on 38 carries. Baldwin concluded its season at 8-3, while Sabetha improves to 10-0. The Bluejays advance to play Paola, 10-0, in the Class 4A semifinal game.