The Hoehne Farmers began their quest for another 1-A 8-Man state title on Saturday afternoon with a 19-8 win over the visiting Merino Rams at Jasper Butero Field.

The 9th-seeded Rams fought hard against a much bigger Farmer team, but were unable to move the ball against a stout that Farmer defense held the Merino offense to one of their lowest outputs on the season.

“We made a lot of mistakes, but we played hard,” said head coach Gabe Dasko. “We broke some long runs and I thought there were a few questionable calls, but our guys manned through it and played hard. We grinded out a win, and sometimes you need to do that. Give Merino credit, they came to play. They know how to play because they play in a tough league.”

The Farmers struck first blood with 9:00 left in the first quarter when running back Jesse Solano took the rock untouched for 30 yards for the score. They reached the end zone again later in the quarter with a nice 50-yard pass from quarterback Tyson Montoya to Kyle Kreutzer that put the Farmers up 13-0 at the end of the first period. Sloppy play and a couple turnovers kept the Farmer offense in check for much of the second quarter. They were able to get on the board late in the quarter when Montoya took a quarterback sneak from 52-yards out to the house as time expired to give the Farmers the 19-0 lead going into halftime. That would be all they would need, as the defense held the Rams to just one score in the second half while forcing four interceptions stopping them on every fourth down in the half.

The Farmers were led offensively by sophomore Jacob Yates’s 102 yards on 14 carries. Senior quarterback Tyson Montoya finished with over 100 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. Defensively, senior linebacker Chris Lujan led the way with 15 total tackles. Jacob Elsberry also chipped in with a couple of interceptions.

“Defensively, we played good, we forced four or five turnovers,” said Dasko. “We gave up one big play to them and we can live with that. I’m pretty impressed with the way we held them (Merino). Offensively, we missed a few guys on the line at guard and we had to move our starting fullback in that slot. We turned the ball over a little more than we would have liked. You can’t turn the ball over like that against Sedgwick.”

The Farmers (8-2), who are making their sixth consecutive postseason appearance since claiming their first state title in 2009, will now move on to the second round where they will host the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Sedgwick County Cougars (Also from the Plains League) at Jasper Butero Field at 1 p.m. The Cougars, who easily defeated Wiley last Saturday by a final score of 50-6, are making their second straight post-season appearance. Dasko acknowledged they will have their hands full against the No. 15 ranked team in the nation, who come into the contest outscoring their opponents 559-64, but finished by saying in playoff football, anything can happen.

“I haven’t seen anything about them yet, but they’re no joke,” he said. “But just because they are the No. 1 seed, doesn’t mean they can’t be brought down. Crazier things have happened. They can turn the ball over and have a rough day, anything can happen.”

We will find out Saturday at 1 p.m.

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