By Sports Editor Peter Holland Jr.
There’s nothing like waking up in the morning, feeling like a champion. Especially when you’re the Canton-Galva High School football team. What makes this year’s state championship so special is how much the game brought everyone in the county together.
Canton-Galva was our home team, and even though the game was in Newton, it felt like the Eagles had the home-field advantage–not only from the Canton-Galva community but from the whole county.
Canton-Galva brought home its first 8-man Division-One State Championship on Saturday after beating St. Francis High School 66-36. It was a win that overcame every adversity imaginable for an 8-man football game. The Eagles were down 36-0 with two minutes left at halftime before they turned the tables on the Indians when they scored 66 unanswered points, with 44 coming in the fourth quarter alone. The second half of play personified on how the Eagles have been playing all year.
Canton-Galva is the first school in the county to win a state football title since the 1999 Little River Team. Nine area schools in total were state champs since 1969 (five Little River, two Moundridge, one Smoky Valley, one Canton-Galva.)
There’s always a McPherson connection. Both McPherson High and Canton-Galva both went undefeated in the regular season with the possibility of two teams in the county competing for state instead of one. Unfortunately, McPherson fell in the Class 4A Semifinals to Andover Central 7-0.
In the state finals, the bleachers filled up by not only those from Canton-Galva but from McPherson as well. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that both communities have ties to one another. With only a few miles separating the communities, it could be a family member or neighbor that graduated at Canton-Galva or a kid that is currently on the team.
Whenever the Eagles are not planning on Friday nights, Head Coach Shelby Hoppes and his coaching staff would come by McPherson Stadium and show their support. Not to mention, his nephew happens to be Kaleb Hoppes, the starting quarterback for the Bullpups. Even a few Bullpup players came to check out the Eagles, with some players likely knew each other since they were toddlers.
McPherson, being mainly a basketball town, has emerged to a football powerhouse within its own right. The same goes for teams like Little River (9-3) and Inman High School (6-5), in which both made it to the state quarterfinals.
As we close out another memorable high school football season, expect next year to be no different as the McPherson County football programs continue to be on the rise. It’s just a matter of time before more than one area team competes in state finals instead of one.