Maize keeps moving
Maize’s defense had seized its share of the spotlight Friday’s 41-14 win over Heights, forcing three second-half turnovers in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Maize (9-1), No. 4 in 5A, will travel to Bishop Carroll (9-1) for next Friday’s quarterfinals after shutting out Heights for the final three quarters. The Falcons finished the season 6-4.
Senior linebacker Antonio Espinoza capped a strong performance by Maize’s defense, scooping up K’Vonte Baker’s fumble and scoring with 2:31 remaining. Maize limited the mistake-prone Falcons to 164 yards on 59 plays.
“We knew the speed they had, we knew how Baker was and how good of an athlete he is,” Espinoza said. “We knew we had to take care of him to win this ballgame.”
The Eagles looked ready for whatever type of game was going to unfold, scoring 21 first-quarter points. Junior quarterback Caleb Grill, who completed 17 of 29 passes for 187 yards, threw touchdown passes of 12 and 18 yards to Preven Christon, and added an 8-yard TD pass to Camden Jurgensen in the opening quarter.
“We felt really good,” Christon said of his connection with Grill, which produced eight receptions for 123 yards. “We felt like we could dominate, honestly.”
Careful what you wish for
No. 1 Goddard wasn’t pleased that its regular-season victory at Andover came down to the final minutes, Goddard’s only close game this season. The Lions also weren’t pleased when Andover coach Cade Armstrong said he wouldn’t mind another chance to play Goddard when the postseason bracket was set.
“That’s just my mentality as a competitor,” Armstrong said two weeks ago. “I really want them again.”
On Thursday, the Lions landed a first-quarter haymaker against Andover in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs and kept adding to the barrage, defeating the Trojans 65-7.
In the rematch with the Trojans, Blake Sullivan ran for five touchdowns and passed for two in the first half as Goddard scored 36 points in the opening quarter and led 65-0 at halftime.
“It was one of those nights where we just played with a chip on our shoulder and we knew if we came out and cracked them in the mouth, everything was going to click,” Sullivan said.
And Goddard’s players felt wanted to emphasize who was No. 1.
“Andover said they wanted us and they got the full thing tonight,” Goddard defensive back Ian McSwain said.
Andover Central survives
Andover Central battled through a tough regular-season schedule, and Mulvane wasn’t fooled by Central’s 4-5 record.
“Every team they’ve lost to is in the playoffs, and two of those (Andover and Maize South) are (Class) 5A schools,” Mulvane coach Dave Fennewald said after visiting Andover Central beat Mulvane 30-21 Friday night in a Class 4A-Division I first-round playoff game.
Central got big contributions from a variety of sophomores.
With a minute remaining in the first quarter, two Jaguars sophomores hooked up for a 59-yard tying touchdown as Reagan Jones hit Xavier Bell. Jones found another sophomore, Matt Macy, on a 53-yard pass play in the second quarter.
“Their sophomore class is a loaded class,” Mulvane coach Dave Fennewald said. “They’re going to be a very good football team the next few years. They’re going to be somebody to watch out for.”
Senior Matt Lyman put Central ahead for good with an 8-yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 20-14 in the second quarter.
Northwest offense explodes
Northwest scored 50 points in the first half in their 57-24 win over Campus in the Class 6A playoffs on Friday night. It’s the second time in school history Northwest has won two playoff games in a season.
The Grizzlies reached the Class 6A championship game in 1996, falling to Olathe North.
“It’s great to get the monkey off our back,” Northwest coach Steve Martin said. “We’ve been knocking on the door step the last couple of seasons but it’s nice to get it done.”
The Grizzlies got it done with a balanced attack which Campus had no answer for. Senior Austin Anderson threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns, and Northwest ran for 240 yards.
Junior Breece Hall ran for 151 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries.
“We have bigger goals,” Hall said. “We’re trying to get to state and win it.”
Northwest (9-1) will host Garden City (8-2) next Friday. Northwest beat Garden City 36-23 earlier this season.
Defense, Howell’s connections to Holthusen advance Carroll to sectionals
Carroll easily handled Kapaun in the teams’ second meeting this season, winning 41-6 on Friday night at Carroll in a Class 5A matchup.
Carroll’s defense shut down Kapaun, holding the Crusaders to 167 yards. The game was a stark contrast to Carroll’s 30-22 win two weeks ago.
“I think (the first game) really helped us out for this game tonight,” Carroll coach Dusty Trail said. “They knew what kind of athletes they had. They knew how aggressive they needed to be and they knew how physical they needed to be. Kapaun is a very physical team and I think that surprised us in game one. Our guys were ready for it tonight.”
Quarterback Braden Howell completed 16 of 22 passes for 285 yards and five touchdowns. Joseph Holthusen caught three of the TD passes.
“Joseph is probably our fastest receiver,” Howell said. “We were really getting (the ball) to him because we knew he was faster than most of their defensive backs. If he made a move and he got in the open, I was linking up with him.”
Carroll will host Maize next week in the sectional round of the 5A playoffs.
‘Jade’ play call wins it for McPherson
It was a bit shocking when McPherson’s offense took the field for the game-winning, two-point conversion when the Bullpups had just matched Buhler’s touchdown in overtime. Instead of attempting the extra-point kick to extend the game, McPherson went for the win.
Tailback Jace Kinnamon took a direct snap, ran to the left and pitched it back to receiver Gabe Hoover for a reverse and then Hoover tossed it to a wide-open Kyler Hoppes in the back-right of the end zone to win the game 15-14 in 4A-I.
“We really felt like we just wanted to win,” Pavlovich said. “I asked the kids in the huddle after we scored and they all looked at me and said, ‘Coach, let’s go win this thing.’ ”
The back story on the play: During the summer Pavlovich assigned his three offensive assistant coaches to research a trick play they felt could be a go-to play when the opportunity came.
This trick play was designed by quarterbacks coach Matt Sandbo, who called the play “Jade.” The team practiced the play three times a week this season and Pavlovich felt confident it would work.
The play starts with an empty backfield and three receivers on the right side, including Hoppes, who is typically the quarterback.
Because Hoppes is a quarterback and the ball initially goes to the other side of the field, Pavlovich was banking on the defense not paying attention when Hoppes released. Sure enough, it worked exactly how they had practiced it all season and Hoover, who is a backup quarterback, delivered an accurate pass for the easy two-point conversion.
“It was a huge win for our program,” Pavlovich said. “We’ve had some really big wins in the past here at McPherson, but this one is definitely up there. It worked out for us this time.”
Derby’s defense steps up
If you were judging by the first five games of this season, it was clear where Derby’s strength and weakness were. The Panthers were scoring an average of 48.6 points and allowing 31.
In the last few weeks, Derby coach Brandon Clark has seen a transformation unlike any other he has seen in his time in Derby.
The Panthers return to the Class 6A quarterfinals following a 21-14 victory at Manhattan. Clark said his team wouldn’t be alive without the defense.
“If you look at where we were in Week 1 to where we are now, I’ve never seen a group of individuals improve as much as they have,” Clark said. “They’re starting to play with confidence and they’re getting better each week. I couldn’t be prouder of our kids and our coaches.”
Derby (9-1), ranked No. 2 in 6A entering the playoffs, will play at No. 1 Lawrence Free State (10-0) on Friday.
Maize South back again
For the fourth straight season, Maize South has reached the quarterfinals in the playoffs. The Mavericks defeated Wellington 49-7 in the first round of the Class 4A-I playoffs and will face McPherson at home this Friday.
“We’re excited to be back to where we’ve been the last few years,” Maize South coach Brent Pfeifer said. “We’ve been here in Week 11 for a few years now and the kids are excited that they were able to continue with that tradition of making this kind of run.”
The Maize South-McPherson game will be a rematch of the divisional game on Sept. 8 when the Mavericks won 9-0.