BY KEVIN PRICE
ST. JOHN —The Macksville High School football team walked away with more than just a 40-12 win over county rival St. John on Friday night.
The Mustangs secured a spot in the Eight-Man Division-I playoffs.
The Mustangs are 4-1 in their district, putting them ahead of Kiowa County, which is 3-2.
There is still one district game for each of them — Macksville against Skyline and Kiowa County against St. John. Even if Kiowa County wins and Macksville loses, the Mustangs are still in the postseason.
“We are mathematically in,” Mustangs head coach Jeff Kuckelman said. “Now we have to win some playoff games and beat some good teams.”
St. John fell to 2-3 in the district.
The game started with the Tigers driving the ball on the legs of Pat Prescott, who ran 40 yards in the Tigers’ opening drive. Prescott ended the game with 85 yards on 16 carries.
Quarterback Kinser Crissman added six yards on the ground, but finished the drive by throwing an interception into the hands of Adam Oak.
Oak returned the ball to the Mustangs’ 37-yard line. From there, Macksville quarterback Seth Filbert, who completed 5 of his 13 passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns, ran 42 yards to score on the first play from scrimmage.
“We’ve got a good quarterback and kids that can catch the ball,” Kuckelman said. “We knew we could throw the ball, but we came out and we wanted to send a message and we wanted to control the ball.”
St. John took control of the ball at its 15-yard line after a touchback, but after five plays, Derek Bevan fumbled the ball and Oak recovered for his second turnover for the Mustangs.
For the second time in the quarter, the Mustangs were able to capitalize on their turnovers when Filbert completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Oak, putting Macksville up 12-0.
The Tigers didn’t get on the scoreboard until the seven-minute mark in the second quarter, when Crissman connected with Zach Minnis for a 21-yard touchdown.
The Mustangs responded with a touchdown pass of their own, Filbert to Bevan for a 12-yard score.
“Most offenses do center on the quarterback,” Kuckelman said of Filbert. “He’s got his hands on the ball every play. He does a great job. He’s a smart kid, and he’s a good leader.
St. John scored one more time before the half on a 37-yard toss from Crissman to Minnis, who bobbled the ball while running the last five yards before securing the pass in the end zone.
The Mustangs led the Tigers 20-12 at the half.
“I thought their kids played hard,” Kuckelman said. “They made a couple plays the first half and it was definitely a ball game at halftime. But I thought our kids did a good job to come out the second half.
“We ran the ball a ton and basically took it right at them. Our offensive line, I was really proud of them. They really sent a message and we just took some drives and pounded it right down the field.”
Oak took the game over for Macksville in the second half.
The Mustangs scored three times, a 1-yard run, a 9-yard pitch and 6-yard sprint all by Oak, who finished the game with 121 rushing yards to lead the Mustangs.