In the crazy world of figuring out district titles, Chaparral knew at halftime Thursday night that its 6-0 lead might not be enough to snare a Class 3A playoff berth.
Then the Roadrunners – who didn’t have a completion in six first-half passes – connected seven times in the second half, scoring 27 more points and going on to a 33-8 victory over Conway Springs.
The victory handed Chaparral the district championship and a first-round home game, with Garden Plain going as the No. 2 seed.
The lack of first-half completions concerned coach Justin Burke.
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“That’s what was struggling in our offense,” he said. “We needed to get some pass completions.”
The futility of the passing game became so troubling that sophomore Jake Burke replaced starter Andrew Clark in the second quarter. But he went 0 for 3 on passes as well.
“The first half, we just weren’t getting it going. We went with two different guys to get it going. I think we could have had what we did in the second half in the first half (but) we just weren’t getting it going.”
Clark returned in the second half, completing 7 of 10 passes for 175 yards.
“In the second half, we were able to mix the run and the pass, and once that happened, we were in good shape,” Justin Burke said.
Indeed, the Roadrunners’ targets came through, lending some needed support to senior workhorse Estin Overton, who gained 99 yards in seven carries in the first half for the bulk of Chaparral’s offense. After halftime, he only carried three times, but one was for his second touchdown of the night on a 4-yard run for Chaparral’s final touchdown.
Clark just needed to be calmer as a passer, Overton said.
Senior togetherness took hold, he said.
“Us seniors, we’re tight,” Overton said. “Adversity has built this team so much, and it feels great. We’ve all been putting time in in the morning, two-a-days, everything it takes to make a champion, we showed it (Thursday).”
Burke said once the passing game began to click, that made powerful runners like Overton, senior Jacob Jenkins (6-4, 205) and sophomore Jarrett Shelton (5-6, 127) all the more effective. Jenkins rumbled his way with one of Clark’s passes 57 yards to the end zone.
Jenkins was injured last week.
“He got a thigh bruise in the last game (the Roadrunners’ only loss of the season, at Garden Plain), and he played limited (time) last week,” Burke said. “Hopefully, we can get him healthy over this next week or so.”
Defense also was a key for Chaparral. The usually-potent Cardinals single-wing attack was held to 78 passing yards and 46 yards on the ground.
Whenever Conway Springs would try to run the ball, Roadrunners defenders swarmed in. The longest Cardinals run was Gunnar Denney’s 16-yard run for Conway Springs’ only touchdown. It also was the Cardinals’ only run of more than 10 yards.
Burke said a lot of what Chaparral did on defense was based on Conway Springs’ system.
“We had to fix the things we did defensively, (and) we shaped it around Conway Springs,” Burke said. “They’re the marquee of our league, and they’ve won it so many times, and we had to find a defense that worked (against) them, and work from there.”
Being the top seed out of a district that has Garden Plain, Conway Springs and Cheney is a big accomplishment, Burke said.
“Coming out of this district is great, because this district is brutal,” he said.
Burke said losing to Garden Plain had Chaparral’s backs to the wall entering Thursday’s game.
“Last week, it looked like us (who would be out),” he said. “We lost last week at Garden, so it appears home-field advantage was huge in this district.”
Conway Springs 0 0 0 8 – 8
Chaparral 6 0 13 14 – 33
C – Overton 20 run (pass failed)
C – Clark 2 run (Escobar kick)
C – Clark 1 run (run failed)
CS – Denney 16 run (Dugan pass from Terhune)
C – Jenkins 57 pass from Clark (Escobar kick)
C – Overton 4 run (Escobar kick)
RUSHING – Conway Springs: Denney 4-27, Jones 8-20, Akiu 2-6, Mercer 1-6, Walter 1-0, Terhune 20-(-13). Chaparral: Overton 10-103, Shelton 3-33, Jenkins 2-24, Clark 14-18, Whealy 1-0.
PASSING – Conway Springs: Terhune 6-19-2-44; Dugan 1-34. Chaparral: Clark 7-13-1-175; Burke 0-3-0-0.
RECEIVING – Conway Springs: Dugan 3-20, Denney 2-16, Ast 1-34, Jones 1-8. Chaparral: Overton 4-72, Jenkins 1-57, Pfaff 1-38, Patterson 1-8.