Spotlight on: Smith Center
Hometown: Smith Center, KS
By Jimmy Oliver
It’s hard to believe that a school so small could produce such a constant, dominant force.
Set in a tiny town with just one stoplight, Smith Center is an institution with an enrollment of roughly 150 students (and just 116 between the 10th and 12th grades). There are 57 boys on the football roster this season -- which makes Smith Center’s (State PR: 82.44, Rank: 1) story all the more impressive.
Not only is there a limited pool to form a team from, but head coach Roger Barta is doing more with less, and it’s paying giant dividends.
So far in 2008, the Redmen have outscored opponents 203 to 57 in just five games, including a shutout of Ellis this past weekend by a 40-0 margin.
Pretty astounding, indeed, but this is nothing different than what Smith Center has been posting – and raising eyebrows with -- for decades.
Just last season, the Redmen tallied 72 points in the first quarter against Plainville en route to a national record for the most points in a single period. Even more astonishing, Smith Center allowed just 20 points all season in 13 games while producing 844 on the scoreboard en route to a state title.
Meanwhile, the program owns seven state championships, starting in ’82 and then following up in ’86, ’99, ’04, ’05, ’06, and ’07.
And the team is not just about winning games and championships, either. Barta sees the program as a tool to help his players further down the road in life.
“I don’t know if winning or losing is what our program is about,” said Barta in a recent interview during his squad's impressive '07 title run. “Maybe something we did will help them (the players) five, 10, 20 years from now and help them be successful in life.”
And this is where the philosophy of the program comes into play, as well. The high school athletes are taught that Smith Center is “Where tradition starts” and “Where tradition never graduates.” Indeed, it's important to strive for as many victories as you can, but it's the intangibles learned along the way that make the biggest difference in one's life.
Last week, the Redmen played a then 4-1 Colby team that came in very capable of putting up points. The Eagles had been averaging 23 points per game while holding opponents to just over 10 per outing. At the time, it appeared that this midseason matchup could have shaped up to be one of the biggest challenges of the regular season for Smith Center, but the Redmen made quick work of their counterparts en route to a 40-0 romp.
Up Next: October 17 at Washington (State PR: 38.38, Rank: 33).