CONWAY SPRINGS — There was no heartbreak for the Sedgwick football team as it exited the field Saturday night.
The Cardinals' fate had been sealed not long after the opening kickoff, when the home team scored twice before the game grew three minutes old.
Sedgwick brought with it an undefeated record and hopes of proving itself worthy of joining the ranks of the elite in Class 3A. What the Cardinals left with was an understanding it still has a ways to go, proven in Conway Springs' 55-13 victory in a second-round playoff game.
Conway Springs (10-1) will play host to Scott City (11-0) at 5 p.m. next Saturday in the quarterfinals.
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"They've been in the weight room awhile," said Sedgwick senior quarterback Trent Stucky. "I think they out-lifted us this whole summer and that showed. That team might win it all, I really think so. That's my pick, at least."
Stucky was what made Sedgwick go, having thrown for over 2,000 yards with his arm and running for another 1,000 with his legs this season.
But the senior hasn't seen a defense like the one Conway Springs put out on the field Saturday. Stucky entered the game with four interceptions in 10 games. Conway baited him into four interceptions on only 11 throws.
"We really challenged our front four to get after it, so our linebackers and secondary could make those reads on coverages," Conway Springs coach Matt Biehler said. "On a short week, they did a good job."
Sedgwick knew it would have a difficult job containing Conway's wing-T offense, and that wasn't even counting on three first-half turnovers.
Sedgwick forced Conway into a fourth-and-inches on the game's opening drive and that proved to be about the last bit of suspense the game offered. Conway converted and Cory Misak then took a sweep outside 52 yards untouched for the first score.
On Sedgwick's first play, Stucky's first throw of the night was high and landed in the hands of Conway's Ryan Crowell. Stucky completed as many passes to his receivers (three) than he did to Crowell.
Two plays later and Jordan Ast was running into the end zone from 36 yards out.
By the time the first quarter ended, Conway Springs led 27-0 and Misak already had over 150 rushing yards. It was 48-0 at halftime with Conway running for 402 yards.
"The line did a great job getting them out of the way for me," said Misak, who finished with 202 yards and three touchdowns. "They led me to the end zone every play."
Where Sedgwick coach Jeff Werner saw the difference was the line of scrimmage. By the time Conway's backs hit the hole, its linemen had moved it three yards upfield.
"They're 11 players were stronger than our 11 players," Werner said. "They're weight-lifting program is outstanding. They just had more strong kids than we had and they took it to us up front."
Mentioned to the players, Conway tended to agree with the benefits of its work in the summer turning up in November.
"Our off-season conditioning program is really starting to pay off," said Conway's Tanner Wood. "You can see the difference it is making out there on the field now."
Long after the rout had been decided, Stucky remained in the game. It was the senior's choice, Werner said.
"He hasn't been able to throw at in practice because of an elbow injury," Werner said. "But he said, 'Coach, I want to help this team any way I can.' So we put him in at running back. He started his career there and he ended it there, so that was kind of fitting."
And with six minutes left in his final high school game, Stucky plunged in from four yards out to make his final play in a Sedgwick uniform a touchdown.
"That was pretty exciting," said Stucky, before reflecting back on the final score. "But I don't know... this was frustrating. We lost to a better team tonight. Maybe the best team."
Sedgwick (10-1) 0 0 0 13 — 13 Conway Springs (10-1) 27 21 7 0 — 55
CS—Misak 52 run (Bond kick)
CS—Ast 36 run (Bond kick failed)
CS—Misak 7 run (Bond kick)
CS—Misak 23 run (Bond kick)
CS—Ast 16 run (Bond kick)
CS—Wood 5 run (Bond kick)
CS—Ast 7 run (Bond kick)
CS—Pauly 1 run (Bond kick)
S—Stucky 4 run (Ware kick)
S—Chandler 25 fumble return (Ware kick failed)
Rushing—Sedgwick, Stucky 18-55, Ware 2-26, Thompson 4-13, Davis 1-3. Conway Springs, Misak 12-202, Doffing 11-91, Ast 6-83, Stanley 7-32, Andra 3-15, Wood 2-13, Bodine 3-11, Salsbery 2-6, Brozovich 1-1, Pauly 1-1, Vancuren 1-(-1).
Passing—Sedgwick, Ware 2-8-20-0, Stucky 3-11-16-4. Conway Springs, Misak 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Sedgwick, Money 4-19, Stucky 1-17. Conway Springs, none.