South Warren takes care of business in 47-6 rout of Colonels


South Warren wide receiver Mason Willingham admitted the No. 1-ranked Spartans entered their KHSAA Class 5A first-round playoff game with a simple mission.

Take the field. Dominate. Take a hot shower and go home.

That’s what the Spartans did against outmanned Christian County on an unusually chilly Thursday night, as South Warren opened the postseason with a 47-6 thumping of the visiting Colonels.

It took South Warren just one hour, 47 minutes to send a message. The Spartans are intent on putting last year’s second-round loss to Bowling Green High School in the rear-view mirror.

“We wanted to put (Christian County) out of their misery,” Willingham said.

South Warren was dominant from the get-go, scoring on its first two possessions and stopping the Christian County offense cold in its tracks. The Spartans improved to 10-1 with the impressive victory and they’ll now wait the winner of Friday night’s first-round Class 5A playoff game between Bowling Green (5-5) and Greenwood (7-3).

Bowling Green has eliminated South Warren from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, last year on the way to the seventh state championship in BGHS history. The Spartans’ 41-24 loss last season was South Warren’s only defeat in a COVID-19 compacted season.

“Not a day goes by,” South Warren defensive tackle Jake Jackson said, “that I don’t think about last year’s game (a 41-24 loss to the Purples), or the year before. It’s my senior year. It’s a senior-laden team. We know it’s win or go home. Pretty simple, really.”

Spartans quarterback Caden Veltkamp, who will continue his career next year at Western Kentucky University, was on top of his game against the Colonels. He used solid protection to find the open man and kept the South Warren offense on the attack.

Veltkamp threw three touchdown passes and added on a 2-yard scoring run midway through the first quarter, extending the South Warren lead to 14-0.

It was 40-0 at the half, and freshman Bryce Button took the snaps in Veltkamp’s stead down the stretch. It was a running clock, as per KHSAA rules, in the second half, which allowed the Spartans to take care of business in one hour, 47 minutes.

One hour, 47 minutes.

“I thought Caden was really sharp tonight,” South Warren coach Brandon Smith said. “He made good decisions out there, threw a nice, catchable ball and showed a lot of poise.”

Senior running back Kobe Martin, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Thursday, said the cold conditions and the importance of being healthy for the postseason dictated an aggressive offensive approach against the Colonels.

“We really knew, coming into this game, that we had to be dominant,” Martin said. “In the playoffs, it’s win or go home. We didn’t want to waste any time.”

Veltkamp directed a quick drive that resulted in South Warren’s first touchdown, an 11-yard scoring run from receiver/running back Cristian Conyers. Veltkamp’s aforementioned scoring run pushed the Spartans’ lead to 14-0, and Luke Burton added a 6-yard dash to the end zone to make it 20-0.

Conyers added another touchdown on a nifty move that resulted in an 11-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, and Martin’s 7-yard scoring run left the Colonels with a 33-0 deficit.

Avrin Bell, who like Veltkamp is a WKU commit, caught a hitch pass from Veltkamp and scored on a 37-yard TD reception late in the first half. Sophomore running back Jimmy Sales scored the Spartans’ final touchown, a 1-yard run with 6:18 left in the third quarter.

With a running clock, Brandon Smith was able to empty the South Warren bench in the second half. Christian County avoided the shutout when JaSean Riley caught a deflected pass from teammate Jordan Miles and scored on a reception that covered 67 yards in the fourth quarter. The Colonels tried to add a 2-point conversion, but South Warren sophomore Cam Smith made an interception in the end zone.

Brandon Smith wasn’t too happy about the way the Spartans closed their 51-20 victory over Christian County just three weeks ago. But he had reason to be pleased with the performance of the South Warren defense. The Colonels’ offensive line couldn’t stop Jake Jackson, K.J. Hardesty, Evan Lee and the relentless Spartans defenders.

“If the clock starts running, we take (the starters) out,” Smith said. “Defensively, we didn’t play real well the first time around (with Christian County). Our guys were ready to play tonight.”

Veltkamp said the Spartans were intent on making short work of Christian County this time.

“When you’re out on the field, it’s not that cold,” Veltkamp said. “It was good to the younger guys some reps in the second half. Our receivers did a good job getting down the field.”

And now, the wait begins at South Warren.

The possible, even likely, rematch with Bowling Green next Friday night.