Saying that Andy Farmer was put into a difficult situation would be an understatement. Saying that Andy Farmer has been able to find success in that situation may be an even bigger understatement.



You see, injuries to St. Mary’s-Colgan’s starting quarterback Nate Arnold and second-stringer Sam Gilbert in the final game of the regular season forced the wide receiver Farmer into duty under center.

Saying that Andy Farmer was put into a difficult situation would be an understatement. Saying that Andy Farmer has been able to find success in that situation may be an even bigger understatement.

You see, injuries to St. Mary’s-Colgan’s starting quarterback Nate Arnold and second-stringer Sam Gilbert in the final game of the regular season forced the wide receiver Farmer into duty under center.

Farmer has responded by leading the Panthers to playoff victories against Oskaloosa, St. Marys and Olpe and has Colgan back in the Class 2-1A state championship game for the first time since 2007.

At 1 p.m. Saturday in Hays, Farmer will try to direct the Panther offense past the Meade Buffaloes in order to give Colgan its first state title since 2003.

Pretty impressive stuff -- especially for someone who had barely taken any snaps this season.

“None or next to zero,” Colgan head coach Chuck Smith said of how much practice time Farmer had received at quarterback this fall. “We felt like Nate was our quarterback and that Sam Gilbert was a pretty good player backing him up. He didn’t get zero snaps, but he didn’t get many.”

But then Arnold learned that he suffered a concussion in the final game of the regular season, and Gilbert broke his arm. Thus, Farmer was forced into duty for the playoffs.

“Andy’s a confident young man,” Smith said. “Andy’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. I told the kids that it’s your job to run and block harder. Andy’s doing a lot more, so you have to do a lot more also.”

Colgan beat Osklaoosa 40-6 and defeated St. Marys 27-7 in rain-soaked conditions. The Panthers followed by rallying from 17 points down to beat Olpe 35-24 and advance to Saturday’s title game.

“I think the main thing for Andy is that he just hasn’t made many mistakes,” Smith said. “He didn’t put the ball on the ground against Oskaloosa and St. Marys in the rain. That’s really big on his part.”

Farmer deflects the credit to the coaching staff, the running game, his receivers and the offensive line - pretty much in any direction other than his own.

“The transition is easier because Coach Smith always has us in the right spots,” Farmer said. “It’s pretty simple when you have Christian and Zach Smith in the backfield. My job is to hand the ball off to them and execute on short pass plays. They make my job pretty easy.”

But trailing 24-7 in the second half against Olpe, Farmer had to do more than just hand the ball off. The senior directed Colgan’s offense to four second-half touchdowns, including two TD passes to receiver Jesse Newcomb. Farmer finished the Olpe game with 151 yards passing and 42 yards rushing.

“Andy’s just a good athlete,” Smith said. “Good athletes do good things. He throws a good ball. He may not throw as good a ball as Nate or Sam, but he has good receivers and he’s such a running threat.”

Now, Farmer is excited about the opportunity to play quarterback in the state championship game, but he also feels bad for his injured teammates. Arnold, who recently signed to play baseball for the Kansas Jayhawks, has been cleared to play every sport except football. Gilbert was released to play Saturday, but will likely play only defense as he will be wearing a cast.

“It’s a terrible situation that he (Arnold) got hurt,” Farmer said. “Last year, I missed the Centralia game because I had mono. I know how hard it is to miss something that you’ve been a part of all season. So I’m playing offense for him.

“He’s still got baseball. He’ll be in good shape and ready to lead us to an eighth-straight state championship in baseball.”