1. Down goes Derby
To be exact, it had been 721 days.
For 24 straight games, spanning three seasons, Derby had prevailed and done so looking like the best team in the state.
But on Friday night it was Goddard’s turn. The Lions and their senior quarterback, Blake Sullivan, eviscerated the two-time defending Class 6A champions 50-20 in front of a raucous home crowd, doing something no team has been able to accomplish in the last seven years against Derby: win by more than a touchdown.
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It was Derby’s worst loss since suffering a 70-31 defeat to Heights in 2010. Goddard considered it payback for the 35-6 thumping Derby delivered in a game called at halftime last September. The halftime score this year: 43-6, Goddard.
“We wanted this game so bad,” said Sullivan, who scored six touchdowns with more than 400 total yards. “We wanted to stick it to them. They’re No. 1 for a reason, but we knew if we played physical and start out strong then we would win this game.”
Sullivan scored the first of his four rushing touchdowns less than two minutes into the game. Goddard led 8-0 after the first drive, 15-0 after four minutes, and 22-0 after the first quarter.
“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty crazy,” senior A.J. Vang said. “I was looking up at the scoreboard in the first quarter and I was like, ‘Are we really up 22-0 right now?’ It was crazy, but I knew we had to keep going. We couldn’t stop.”
After losing in the Class 5A championship game by one point in double overtime, Goddard wanted to make a statement against Derby.
“We showed we’re a real contender this year,” Goddard senior Justin Amaro said. “We are going to roll through our opponents, we are going to put up numbers, and we are going to do great things. This senior class knows what we’ve got to do.”
2. Can Derby bounce back?
Derby has faced plenty of deficits in the last six years, but never has it been buried in a 22-point hole so early in a game.
“We’ve got to become more physical,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “It’s not that we can’t do it right now, but it’s about confidence and them believing in themselves. You’ve got to believe in yourself before you can play fast and right now we’re searching for that belief.”
Clark’s demand for increased physicality comes after Goddard dominated the line of scrimmage on Friday. The Goddard offensive line, anchored by A.J. Vang, Aaron Valentine, and Chod Morrow, often created so much space that Sullivan had five yards in front of him free to build up enough speed to either punish the oncoming safeties with plows forward or out-race defenders to the end zone.
How will a program so used to winning respond to losing in such a manner?
Last season Goddard rebounded from its thumping by winning 10 straight games and reaching the 5A title game. Can Derby do the same? The Panthers host Maize on Friday.
“We’ve got two choices: we can either sit here and feel sorry for ourselves and throw a little pity party or we can rebound from this,” Clark said.
3. Can anyone score on Maize South’s defense?
Maize South’s defense has opened the season with two straight shutouts, as it registered a 9-0 victory over McPherson in a battle between the Nos. 2- and 3-ranked teams in Class 4A I.
The Mavericks forced a safety, then scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession. Maize South didn’t force any turnovers, but limited McPherson to 52 passing yards and 191 yards total.
“The kids know we take a lot of pride in our defense and that’s kind of been our tradition,” Maize South coach Brent Pfeifer said. “When it’s their turn, the kids don’t want to be the ones that drop the ball on this thing. We’ve just got a lot of playmakers on that side of the ball and they all play for each other.”
The defensive line returned John Moses, Bryce Weidemann, and Korban Trapp, while the secondary returned Tristen Knoblauch, Jack Wagner, and Tyler White.
Maize South, ranked No. 2 in 4A I, will travel to KC Washington this week before its showdown with Buhler on Sept. 22.
“This is just Week 2,” Pfeifer said. “It’s nice to get a win like that, but we’re going to get right back to work. We’re trying to learn and better ourselves for November.”
4. McNerney wills Collegiate to win
The frustration boiled over for Collegiate when Hoisington took a 20-14 lead in the third quarter. The Spartans were committing several pre-snap penalties. They were dropping passes. They were failing to take care of the simple things.
That’s when coach Mike Gehrer saw his senior quarterback, Cody McNerney, take his game to another level. McNerney responded immediately with a go-ahead touchdown, then scored two more times in the fourth quarter to help Collegiate, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A II, prevail 35-20.
McNerney finished with 156 passing yards and 163 rushing yards with four touchdowns.
“He did kind of put the team on his back and made some tremendous reads and some tremendous runs for us,” Gehrer said. “He just physically willed us into some big plays to save us because we were kind of self-destructing there for a bit.”
Collegiate (2-0) will play Buhler (1-1) on Friday.
“We’ve got a big game coming up and we’re going to need to come out and be sound in our responsibilities and sound with our mechanics,” Gehrer said. “We kind of got away from that last week, so we’ve got to be better next week.”
5. Valley Center is 2-0 again
After losing so much from its nine-win team from last season, Valley Center was expected to take a step back this season — and that was before the Hornets lost their best player, quarterback Wyatt Lange, to an injury in Week 1.
But Valley Center is 2-0 after surviving for a 21-20 victory at Campus. For the second straight week, Valley Center scored a touchdown on defense, this time an interception return by Larry Russell.
“It’s not pretty, but we’re relying on our defense to lead us and they came through for us once again,” Valley Center coach Caleb Smith said. “And on ofense, we’re just trying to control the clock. Play a little Bill Snyder style and eat up the clock and play field position.”
Patrick Schrater, a 5-foot-6, 125-pound junior, filled in for Lange and completed 11 of 15 passes for 103 and a pair of touchdowns.
“A lot of people see he’s 5-6 and 125 and think we’re crazy for starting him,” Smith said. “But Parker is a smart kid and a great game manager for us and we have all the confidence in the world in him.”
6. The rise of West’s Shakur Johnson
When West’s leading rusher KeSean DeShazer, a 1,000-yard running back, transferred out of the state this summer, West coach Weston Schartz wasn’t too concerned about replacing his production.
Schartz has turned to Shakur Johnson and the junior has responded with back-to-back 100-yard games to open the season, as West started 2-0 with a 43-0 shutout of South.
“We knew he was good last year,” Schartz said. “He’s gotten bigger and stronger as a junior. He needed to step up after we lost KeSean, but we always knew he could step up and do just as well back there.”
Schartz stated before the season he thought West could finish in the top three in the City League. Beating South was the first step, but now the Pioneers will travel to Carroll on Friday then to Northwest next Friday.
“We lost to South last year and that gave us a really bad taste in our mouths, so the kids were excited to get some redemption,” Schartz said. “We knew we had to beat South to accomplish the things we want to accomplish and hopefully we’re headed in the right direction now.”
7. Another Pauly running the show
Starting at quarterback for the for the first time carries enough pressure; doing so in Garden Plain with the last name Pauly doubles it.
Matt Pauly knows he has big shoes to fill after his older brother Nate graduated last year after becoming one of the best players in Class 3A. But the younger Pauly has handled the pressure well, throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to beat Hesston in Week 1 and throwing for two more touchdowns in Garden Plain’s 49-21 win over Trinity.
“He handles all of it really, really well,” Garden Plain coach Ken Dusenbury said. “He’s a very even-keeled kid and he has some experience starting as the basketball team’s point guard last year. You can tell the game is starting to slow down for him now and he’s finding his niche.”
Garden Plain (2-0) has repeated its undefeated start from last season, despite heavy graduation losses, thanks to the elevated play from Nick Dooley and Jared Becker.
“The biggest key for us so far has been that a lot of guys who played a supplementary role last year for us are stepping up and playing major roles now,” Dusenbury said. “They’re playing maybe even a little beyond what we expected from them. It’s been awesome to see.”
8. Jayden Price erupts in shootout
Rose Hill and Mulvane traded their best shots on Friday, but Mulvane’s Jayden Price produced one more big play in the end of Mulvane’s 42-38 victory.
After a quiet opener, Price erupted for 250 passing yards, 210 rushing yards, and five touchdowns. His favorite target, receiver Drew Ellis, hauled in 10 catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
Rose Hill took a 38-35 lead in the fourth quarter on a field goal, but Price was able to drive Mulvane down for the game-winning touchdown that he scored himself on an 11-yard run. Mulvane moves to 2-0 entering its showdown at Andale (2-0) this Friday.
For Rose Hill, it was a welcomed sight after the offense was shut out in a 42-0 loss to Collegiate. J.J. Carney rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns, as the Rockets’ offense showed their potential in battling with one of the top quarterbacks in the state. Rose Hill plays at Wellington (2-0) on Friday.
“Honestly, I’ve been so proud of these guys for the last two years and I’m just glad we finally got to see what they were capable of,” Rose Hill coach Ray Boese said. “These kids have worked so hard and I knew how good they could be and it just didn’t show last week. But they showed it (Friday) and that has us excited going forward.”
9. A Heights advantage
Northwest coach Steve Martin, a former Heights assistant, saw a lot of familiar nuances when scouting Heights.
Martin used his knowledge of the defense to his advantage, as Northwest rolled over a depleted Heights team 37-14 to avoid an 0-2 start to the season.
“There’s some things that we took advantage of that we saw on film and playing these guys and running that defense when I was there,” Martin said. “We kind of knew some ins and outs of where we could hurt them.”
Heights, ranked third in Class 5A before the season, falls to 0-2, and once again played without quarterback K’Vonte Baker, running backs Dejuan Scott and Braxton Kirkendoll, and linebacker Aevodric Gilkey. Coach Terry Harrison has declined to talk specifics, and the timing of the return of the four starters is unclear.
“We had a full roster tonight and we played every player available trying to win,” Harrison said. “…We had 76 kids here (Friday) and we played a lot of the players. I couldn’t be more proud of the ones we had.”
10. East scores 54
Despite being shut out in the opening week, East saw some positive signs in its 24-0 loss to Garden City.
East can feel good in a win now after defeating North 54-0, as it scored on a safety, kickoff returns by DeShawn Nimmons and Jaqualyn Massey, and a fumble recovery by Dewade Black.
The Blue Aces will play Kapaun at WSU on Friday.