Bluejays fall to Thunder in Sub-State


Junior running back Colin Menold strolls into the end zone with the help of his teammates blocking in the game Friday, November 18, at Nemaha Central.
Junior Christian McAfee finds the corner with the help of lead blocker, junior Colin Menold, in the game Friday, November 18, at Nemaha Central.
Junior receiver Marcus Bauman survives two Thunder tackles and fights for positive yardage with his second effort in the game Friday, November 18, at Nemaha Central.
Senior running back Jonathan Renyer powers through the grasp of Thunder defenders in the game Friday, November 18, at Nemaha Central.
Senior defensive back Matthew Garber denies the Thunder receiver the catch and a score in the game Friday, November 18, at Nemaha Central.
Junior defensive end Christian McAfee meets the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage in the game Friday, November 18, at Nemaha Central.
Junior defensive end Christian McAfee comes up with the interception, while his teammates in the background (L-R) senior Davis Rokey, senior Matthew Garber, senior Jonathan Renyer and senior Nohl Niehues tell their bench who has possession, in the game Friday, November 18, at Nemaha Central.


There was a lot on the line on Friday, Nov. 18, in Seneca when the 9-2 Bluejays faced off with the 11-0 Nemaha Central in a rematch of week eight, a Sub-State duel that would decide who would take their game to the Championship in Salina. With the history and competitiveness between these two schools and communities running deep, the venue was buzzing with anticipation, pride and excitement. 

The game would come down to which team played closest to perfect, and in this case the Thunder rose to the top and came away with the win over the Jays, 30-14.

“We played together, played with heart and fought until there were zeros on the clock,” said Head Coach Garrett Michael.

Sabetha won the toss and deferred to the second half, which gave the Thunder the opening possession. Nemaha Central drove down to the two-yard line and punched in a score to take the early lead. A two-point conversion was successful and Sabetha trailed, 8-0.

The Bluejays went three and out on their first possession and were forced to punt, giving the Thunder a first and 10 on their own 27. Sabetha’s defense stepped up their pressure with senior Davis Rokey knocking down a pass at the line of scrimmage. Senior Brendan Severin sacked Nemaha Central’s quarterback, and the drive culminated with an interception by junior Christian McAfee. However, the offense could not turn the takeaway into points and the Jays trailed 8-0 at the end of the first.

Sabetha’s defense had several big stops in the first half, the first of which shut down a Thunder drive inside the 10 midway through the second quarter. Sabetha would take the ball over on their own five-yard line and drive it the length of the field. Junior Marcus Bauman hauled in a pass from Garber, which was good for a 47-yard pickup and put the Jays within striking distance. Junior running back Colin Menold found a crease with less than a minute to play in the half, and walked into the end zone from one-yard out. Junior Nate Menold’s point after was good and the Jays closed the gap, but trailed 7-8.

Sabetha snuffed out another Thunder drive right at the end of the half with a tough defensive stand, and Nemaha Central led 8-7 at the break. 

The Bluejays started the second half with the ball and facing a fourth and short yardage near midfield, failed to reach the line to gain a first and turned the ball over on downs. 

Nemaha County marched down the field and scored, and with the two-point conversion, pulled ahead, 16-7.

Sabetha fumbled and turned the ball over on the first play of the next series and the Thunder would turn that into points and stretched the lead to 24-7.

The Jays started on their own 34-yard after a good kickoff return and 37, and senior running back Jonathan Renyer picked up two first downs on two carries to move his team into Thunder territory. Bauman caught a pass on a slip screen and got another first down with his second effort. McAfee bulled his way down to the one-yard line on a carry of more than 10 yards, and C. Menold hammered into the end zone for the score on the next play. Sabetha trailed 24-14 at the end of the third period.

Sabetha’s defense stopped a Nemaha Central drive and forced them to punt, but the Jays could not maintain a long drive. The Thunder would score with seven minutes left in the contest and the Bluejays just could not get the push they needed and dropped the loss on the road, 14-30.

Sabetha ends their season with a 9-3 mark on the year with District, Regional and Sectional titles to their credit.

“It’s always hard ending a season, especially when we were one win away from playing for a state title,” Coach Michael said. “The two teams we lost to, are playing for state titles. As a coaching staff, we couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys. They built a bond that will never be broken. There were many different roles on this team and our guys filled every one of those, perfectly. It was fun to watch them grow as men, as a team and as football players. This team placed Sabetha football program back to the top of the state, by earning a spot in the final four!”

Pete Schuetz157 Posts

Pete Schuetz is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where he has been on staff since 2022. Pete is a retired teacher from the USD 113 Prairie Hills School district. He lives in Sabetha with his wife and one of his two sons.


What Are Your Thoughts?


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password