NESS CITY -- Cody Price was proud of his first career interception, but his signature moment came for the Central Plains linebacker occurred on a running play.
Ness City's Pedro Flores fumbled the football and was rocked by Price's tackle that typified the Oilers' hard-hitting defense on a bone-chilling night. Price made 11 tackles and five assists to lead the Oiler defense.
"That was a good hit," Price said. "That was my first interception of my high school career, the best part of my night. I was in the right place to do the right things."
The unbeaten Oilers rolled into the Eight-Man I state football championship with a 32-0 victory Friday over Ness City. The Oilers converted two takeaways into touchdowns as Price and Layne Bieberle intercepted passes and Michael Ryan blocked a punt.
Central Plains (12-0) will meet top-ranked Hanover (12-0) in the Eight-Man I state championship Nov. 22 at Newton. The consolidated school owns six state football titles, five by Claflin and one by Quivira Heights.
The Eagles gained 215 yards, but were stopped twice in goal-line situations. The Eagles' Cody Flores missed catching a potential touchdown pass after a 17-play first-half drive. Ness City reached the Oiler 5-yard line in the second half.
"Oue defense stepped up and huge tonight," said Central Plains coach Chris Steiner, who won two state football titles at Claflin High School. "That goal-line stop was huge. We bent, but didn't break."
Linebacker Brady Rugan stepped in and played for injured linebacker Jacob Warnken. Bieberle had six tackles and nine assists. Braedan Crites had eight tackles.
"We came out more determined the second half," Steiner said. "We came out a little tight, a little nervous."
Oiler quarterback Braedan Crites rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns and passed for three touchdowns and 124 yards. Crites completed nine passes for 111 yards and three scores in the second half. The Oilers rushed for 137 yards.
"As a quarterback, you like to throw the football. Our receivers got open and made plays the second half," Crites said. "I just tried to put it close to them and they kept making plays. As long as they are making plays like that, it was great. I was thankful for the time I had thanks to my offensive line."
The Oilers worked hard for their first touchdown, scoring on fourth-and-goal on a 26-yard drive from the 1-yard line on Crites' dive.
Ness City put together its best drive of the night, converting a fourth down and a trio of third downs to reach first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. Price made a tackle for a loss and the Oilers stopped two running plays and two passing plays.
"We got lucky the first couple of drives," Steiner said. "That's a heck of a football team. They are so hard to tackle."
Ryan blocked a Ness City punt and Crites scored on an 8-yard run on the first play for a 12-0 lead with 3:42 left in the first half.
"We love to bring the punt block," Steiner said. "We sent Michael by himself and he is always smart and takes a good angle. I didn't expect him to get there."
The Oilers' passing game was effective after halftime. Crties competed 5 of 6 passes for 50 yards on a 58-yard drive to start the second half. Michael Lamatsch caught a 17-yard touchdown pass with 6:38 left in the third period for an 18-0 lead.
"Braedan made good decisions and did a great job the second half," Steiner said. "Our offensive line did a better job giving him more time. Our receivers did a great job. We wanted 100 percent of all catchable balls."
Crites completed a 33-yard touchdown to Bieberle for the Oilers' fourth touchdown for a 24-0 lead with 1:05 left in the third period to cap another 58-yard drive.
"First half, we had to rely on our defense. Coming out the second half, it was big time," Bieberle said. "We got some short pass plays and hit them with some big pass plays."
The Oilers preserved a shutout with a second goal-line stand at their 5-yard line. Central Plains iced the victory with a 75-yard scoring drive. Crites dashed 52 yards and 16 yards and completed a 4-yard touchdown to Bieberle.
Ness City quarterback Tanner McMillen has accounted for 2,200 yards offense. He rushed for 65 yards and passed for 39 yards.
"You have to give credit to Central Plains’ defense,” said Ness City coach Chris Bamberger. “They are so good at getting off blocks and getting to the ball. We got stacked up against a really good defense.”
CENTRAL PLAINS 32,
Ness City 0
Spearville 6 6 12 8 — 32
Ness City 0 0 0 0 — 0
CP--Braedan Crites 1 run (run failed); CP--Crites 8 run (pass failed); CP--Michael Lamatsch 17 pass from Crites (run failed); CP--Layne Bieberle 33 pass from Crites (run failed); CP--Bieberle 4 pass from Crites (Lamatsch pass from Crites)
RUSHING: CP 32-137, Crites 15-84; Hunter Ingham 3-19; Carson Kirmer 6-13; Alex Barton 3-12; Jacob Warnken 5-9; NC 50-176, Tanner McMillen 17-65; Pedro Flores 14-65; Jacob Hoss 11-25; Caleb Lee 8-21.
PASSING: CP, Cryes 11-22-0, 124; NC, McMillen 8-17-2, 39.
RECEIVING: CP, Lamatsch 5-51; Bieberle 3-49; Ingham 3-24; NC, F;ores 5-34; Hoss 1-5.