MANSFIELD – The soundtrack on Friday night for Mart’s seemingly unstoppable march to their third straight Class 2A Division II state title was two short train horns, constantly sounded by the happy Panther fans and band.
The Panthers didn’t waste much time tuning out Muenster, 53-7, a year after they ended their season 59-0, but for every MHS touchdown at Newsome Stadium there were two short train horn sounds. Every post-touchdown conversion had two short train horns, start of the game, start second half, fumble recovery, interception, long run.
Train, train and more train horns. By the end of the blowout, just too many to count.
It all added up to a dominating victory by the local powerhouse which authored plenty over the last three years. They came into the game averaging 64 points in three playoff wins this year, holding their opponent to a combined 22 points. The Panthers did little to hurt their average and are now just two wins from another 2A state title.
“We just do what we do,” said Mart head coach Kevin Hoffman. “We want to run the football and score and make the other people like it.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time and that’s what we do and preach and want to accomplish.”
Mart improves to 12-2 on the year and will play Falls City next week at a time and location still be determined. Muenster ends their year with an 11-3 record.
Hoffman said a Falls City victory, a rematch from last year’s playoffs, would likely be in the Austin area.
“We’re back-to-back state champions so we know what’s at the end of the road,” Hoffman added. “But if we don’t play and practice hard and pay attention to details then the kids know there is no road. We have to stay focused.”
After a relatively tight first quarter, at least by Mart standards, holding on an 8-0 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes, running back Roddrell Freeman authored the key play which ignited the Mart blowout.
Facing fourth and one at the Muenster 47, Freeman broke down the left sideline for a 32-yard run before being stopped on the 15-yard line. On the next play, he broke loose off right tackle for a touchdown run and a 14-0 lead after the try to two points failed.
From then on, the rout was truly on and Mart wasted little time going for the kill as they have so many times in their extended playoff run, taking their 16th straight post-season victory.
On the Panthers’ next possession, Freeman raced down the left sidelines untouched for a 77-yards rushing score and a 20-0 lead.
It was part of a 313-yard rushing output by the powerful Mart offense in the first half alone. Freeman accounted for 161 yards himself. For the game, Mart rushed for 527 yards and Freeman topped the 200 yard mark.
Midway through second quarter, the Panthers proved they could be both lucky and good. They went with a reverse, Klyderion Campbell fumbled the handoff, picked the ball off the carpet on one hop, changed directions and rushed in for a 45-yard touchdown and a 27-0 lead.
Campbell made it a 33-0 halftime lead with a 14-yard run and an extra point by Trey Powell.
After halftime, the Mart defense got into the action themselves with an interception by Kyler Martin and a fumble recovery by Keishawn Clater. Only a meaningless touchdown by Munester with 1:17 left cost them a shutout for the second straight year against the Hornets.
Campbell turned into a highlight film run early in the fourth quarter breaking seven tackles en route to a 57-yard touchdown run for a 46-0 lead.
Mart was able to empty their bench after that and sophomore running back Neven Hickman got his chance to shine with a 57-yard scoring run and a 53-0 lead late in the game.
“We got a lot of good young kids, all that need is a chance to play more often,” said Hoffman.
The Panthers have guaranteed themselves one more week, most likely two more chance to play and extend their 2A football dominance.