Rarely has Heights been challenged this season.
And judging by its 70-31 victory over Derby in the Class 6A-District 6 finale on Friday night, one might think that was the case yet again as the Falcons rolled to an unbeaten regular season.
While Heights (9-0, 3-0) won the District 6 title, its secondary was tested in a big way.
Heights, ranked second in Class 6A, gave up 303 passing yards to Derby quarterback Tyler Harrison and a season-high 31 points.
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“They’re the best passing team we’ve played so far,” Heights senior Evan Wessel said. “It’s tough and we need to get back to work. If we want to win a state championship, we have to be perfect on all levels.”
Heights’ defense has been near perfect all season. The Falcons came into the game having given up an average of 156.6 yards per game.
But Derby quarterback Tyler Harrison was 19-of-33 passing for 303 yards and four touchdowns, three on passes.
“Give credit to their guys,” Heights coach Rick Wheeler said. “Their guys made great catches, their quarterback handled the pressure well, too. A lot of those completions were him creating time in the pocket.
“I’d like to defend better.æ.æ.æ. But we needed to be tested, to be challenged.”
Heights, the No. 1 seed after a coin toss with Dodge City, will play host to Garden City next Friday in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. Derby will play at Manhattan.
The Falcons scored the game’s first 28 points. On the game’s first play, quarterback Matt Reed hit Dreamius Smith for an 86-yard score. Daniel Deshazer added scoring runs of 69 and 31 yards, while Reed scored on a five-yard run.
Smith finished with 10 carries, 151 rushing yards, while Deshazer had seven carries for 197 yards, and Matt Reed had 13 for 111.
Derby finally got its offense going, and Harrison had 218 passing yards at the half, trailing Heights 42-19.
“They have a good offense and defense,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “I’ll give them that.æ.æ.æ. We knew we had to play a perfect game. Our offense played well at times.”
Heights’ defense, which had five sacks, opened the second half with a goal-line stand.
And Derby’s defense failed to slow Heights. The Falcons scored on all six first-half possessions. After a shaky start to the second half — a punt and two straight fumbles in Derby territory, Heights scored on four straight possessions.
Derby freshman Tyler West had nine carries, 113 rushing yards in the second half.
Derby (5-4, 2-1) 0 19 0 12 — 31
Heights (9-0, 3-0) 21 21 14 14 — 70
H—Smith 86 pass from Reed (Hoyer kick)
H—Deshazer 69 run (Hoyer kick)
H—Deshazer 31 run (Hoyer kick)
H—Reed 5 run (Hoyer kick)
D—Jewell 24 pass from Harrison (Weidner kick)
H—Smith 71 run (Hoyer kick)
D—Jewell 66 pass from Harrison (miss kick)
H—Reed 38 run (Hoyer kick)
D—Jewell 13 pass from Harrison (run failed)
H—Smith 34 run (Hoyer kick)
H—Smith 1 run (Hoyer kick)
D—West 46 run (miss kick)
H—Deshazer 80 run (Hoyer kick)
D—Harrison 5 run (pass failed)
H—Iheme 41 run (Hoyer kick)
Rushing—Derby, West 9-113, Harrison 18-34, Hudson 8-13, Sims 3-7. Heights, Deshazer 7-197, Smith 10-151, Reed 13-111, Iheme 5-71, Jones 5-23, J. Moore 1-2, M. Moore 2-11.
Passing—Derby, Harrison 19-33-303-0. Heights, Reed 3-4-123-0.
Receiving—Derby, Jewell 6-123, Greiving 8-103, Liston 3-56, Sparks 2-21.