Axtell and Hanover: it just means more tonight

Axtell and Hanover: it just means more tonight
The press box at Axtell High School will be a crowded one on Friday night. Four radio stations, including Ol' Red 99.5, will broadcast the Eagles' rematch with Hanover.

AXTELL, KS – It’s a cold Friday morning in early November. Lows have dipped to the low 20s, with winds swirling all around.

A little over an inch of snow from the day before has blanketed the grass field at Axtell High School.

The Eagles, who are experiencing one of their best football seasons in school history, are scheduled to face the Waverly Bulldogs in the sectional round of the Class 8-Man Division II playoffs that night at 7.

At 8:26 a.m., a tweet is sent out by Eagles’ sixth-year head coach Eric Detweiler.


About two hours later…

“By 10:00, I think we had between 35-40 guys there shoveling snow off the field,” Detweiler said. “That’s just incredible. I never dreamt we’d have that much help.”

The Eagles soared on their snow-cleared field, knocking out Waverly last Friday, 46-8.

Meanwhile, 38 miles west down U.S. Highway 36, No. 1 and unbeaten Hanover has blanked St. Paul, 46-0.

The No. 1 Wildcats, and the No. 2 Eagles, meet again.

“As coaches, we  kind of talked as a staff and we felt that it was a pretty strong possibility that this would be a match-up that we’d be looking at at this point,” Hanover head coach Matt Heuer said.

Hanover won the first bout with Axtell this season, 50-42 on Oct. 5. The Wildcats pounced on the Eagles for the 12th straight meeting, but Hanover hadn’t won a game by single digits since a 36-34 win at Clifton-Clyde on Sept. 18, 2009.

Hanover has won 36 straight games. That streak was in danger last month when Axtell briefly held a 34-28 lead late in the third quarter.

The Wildcats reeled off 22 unanswered points to put it away, but neither team left that night entirely satisfied.

“(This game) has a little bit of an added incentive to it,” Heuer said. “I think that some of our kids felt that we probably didn’t play as strong as we possibly could have the first time we played (Axtell).

“Number two, there’s just a little bit more on the line this time. This isn’t a regular-season game that might determine district seedings. This is a game that’s going to determine whether or not you get to play an extra week of football on the biggest stage.”

The winner advances to play either Osborne (10-1) or Dighton (9-2) on Saturday, Nov. 24 at Fischer Field Stadium in Newton at 11 a.m.

It’s a stage Axtell hasn’t played on since 1993. Hanover aims to get there for the fifth straight year, and take home the trophy for the third straight.

“We’re back here at home playing (Hanover) again,” Detweiler said. “It’s kind of what we hoped for, and hopefully it’ll be a great game.”

It won’t be quite as cold as it was last week in Axtell. Temperatures should hang in the low-to-mid 40s for most of the night. There’s also no snow to shovel off the field before hand.

Even if a foot of snow fell overnight, die hard Eagles, and Wildcats, would come in droves, shovels in hand, ready to work. Ready to insure that their teams get to play.

Axtell and Hanover always means a lot. Tonight, it means a little more.

“Every year that some school has a successful or highly recognized year, everybody in each town feels like they’re the one who’s deserving of the state title,” Heuer said. “These are two towns that take a great deal of pride in their athletic community. Both towns are going to have people there who haven’t attended a high school football game in 2-3 years come to this game just for the simple fact of the close proximity and the fact that they remember playing Axtell or Hanover when they were in high school.

“It’s definitely what high school football is all about.”

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.

#1 Hanover (11-0) @ #2 Axtell (10-1) – Class 8-man DII sub-state

Where: Axtell, KS

When: 7 p.m.

Radio: Ol’ Red 99.5 FM, or live at this link. Tune in for extended pregame coverage at 6:30.


Matt Heuer (Hanover)


Eric Detweiler (Axtell)

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