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Second-quarter surge gives Cats big win over Clarkson-Leigh

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HARTINGTON — What started as a back and forth affair turned into a dominating 62-34 win for Hartington-Newcastle over Clarkson/Leigh in Thursday’s first round of the Class D2 NSAA State Football Playoffs.

The win marks the first time since the school merger that Hartington-Newcastle has advanced to the second round. HNS had previously made the playoffs in 2014, 2016, and 2017 but lost to Clarkson-Leigh, Tri County, and East Butler.

Only once in Hartington High history did the team make it to the second round, that came in 2012 with a win over Pender before losing to High Plains Community in the second round.

Newcastle history saw more success, making it to the second round four times and to the third round in 1990.

“It felt really good getting this first win in the Hartington-Newcastle era but we are looking to get win two,” said HNS quarterback Shaye Morten.

The Wildcat win came despite allowing the Patriots’ biggest offensive asset to have a huge game. Sophomore running back Tommy McEvoy ran for 233 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries.

While McEvoy was the main source of offense for the visiting team, Hartington-Newcastle relied on a balanced offense to pull ahead in the second quarter and never look back. HNS threw for 198 yards and had 246 yards on the ground on the way to victory. The team also scored nine touchdowns.

Hartington-Newcastle put the first points on the board, but two quick touchdowns from McEvoy gave Clarkson-Leigh a 14-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. He would  score a third time before the end of the first half, but HNS would put 30 points on the board to take a 42-28 lead at halftime.

HNS head coach Corey Uldrich said the fast start to the game seemed to be a wake up call for his team.

“It was kind of a gut check like, ‘hey they are going to hit you in the mouth and if you don’t fight back it is going to be a long night.’ Once we figured it out things were fine, but we were on edge early.”

Instead Hartington-Newcastle flipped the tables and put Clarkson-Leigh on their heels with big play after big play. That included the final touchdown of the night when Morten connected with Lincoln McPhillips. The senior wideout made a spectacular catch behind the defenders helmet while battling contact that would ultimately be called pass interference. The flag didn’t matter though as McPhillips was able to maintain balance and trot into the end zone.

It arguabley wasn’t even his best catch all night. Coming out of halftime, Clarkson-Leigh put together a drive that had them knocking on the door of the end zone. The Patriots tried a trick play with a halfback pass by McEvoy, but he put too much air under the ball as McPhillips covered over 40 yards for a leaping interception that marked him down at the one yard line.

Backed up deep in the end zone, HNS found no problem with the poor field position, scoring on a two-play, 79-yard drive. A handoff to Ethan Koch got the team out near midfield, and Morten ran it in on a 42-yard run for a score.


From Page 14

“That was huge. That could have been a scoring drive for them and put momentum on their side, but luckily we are on the one yard line. Then Ethan got a big gain and they probably thought I wasn’t going to carry the ball. I had two lineman pull for me and had Kobe seal off the edge and I was gone.”

Uldrich didn’t have quite the expectations on that drive with his offense pinned back deep.

“When we had the ball on the one my initial thought was lets just get it out of here and if we have to punt we will punt. But that’s huge and devastating for a defense to have them pinned on the one and then two plays later they score. I think that may have taken some wind out of their sails.”

HNS went on to win 62-34. Shaye Morten had five total touchdowns and went 10-14 through the air for 198 yards. Ethan Koch supported the effort on the ground with 17 carries for 128 yards and four touchdowns. He says the team is eager to face top seed Humphrey St. Francis.

“It feels amazing,” said Koch on the win. “I think we are ready to play Humphrey St. Francis. I think it is going to be a good contest. We like playing on turf so we have fast grass out there.”

Uldrich agrees with his senior running back, and he is in the Halloween spirit with the game taking place in Humphrey Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

“We’d like to come to Humphrey and bring some fright with us.”

Clarkson-Leigh 14 14 0 6 — 34

Hartington-Newcastle 12 30 20 0 — 62



Total Off. 385 444

Passing Yds 8 198

Rushing Yds 377 246

Penalty Yds 9-95 3-20

First Downs 18 18



Hartington-Newcastle - Shaye Morten, 10-14 198 yards 4 TD. Clarkson-Leigh - Lance Paprocki, 1-2 8 yards 1 TD; Tommy McEvoy, 0-1 1 INT.


Hartington-Newcastle - Ethan Koch, 17-128 4 TD; Shaye Morten, 6-70 1 TD; Kobe Heitman, 9-51; Jake Peitz, 4- -3. Clarkson-Leigh - Tommy McEvoy, 32-233 4 TD; Lance Paprocki, 21-74; Travis Stanley, 6-29; Brock Marxsen, 3-18; Isaak Wiese, 2-13; Trevor Zulkoski, 1-4; Kanyon Keld, 1-4; Logan Schroeder, 2-2.


Hartington-Newcastle - Turner Korth, 4-91 1 TD; Lincoln McPhillips, 4-65 2 TD; Kobe Heitman, 2-42 1 TD. Clarkson-Leigh - Travis Stanley, 1-8 1 TD.


Hartington-Newcastle - Turner Korth, 19; Lincoln McPhillips, 16; Carson Sudbeck, 13; Morgan Koch, 12; Kobe Heitman, 12; Shaye Morten, 6; Jake Petiz, 4; Ethan Koch, 3; Aiden Gratzfeld, 3; Dylan Dendinger, 2; Teagan Scoggan, 1. Clarkson-Leigh - Tommy McEvoy, 9; Lance Paprocki, 6; John Langhorst, 6; Travis Stanley, 4; Carter Hanel, 4; Cort Pokorney, 4; Isaak Wiese

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