Varsity Kansas

Class 5A championship preview

HUTCHINSON VS. GARDNER-EDGERTON

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Welch Stadium, Emporia

Championships: Hutchinson 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008; Gardner-Edgerton, none

HUTCHINSON (12-0)

KC (Mo.) Rockhurst W,55-27

Salina South W,41-6

Maize W,55-0

Derby W,49-14

Salina Central W,63-21

Goddard W,49-13

McPherson W,55-20

Hays W,56-0

Great Bend W,56-7

Playoffs

Liberal W,55-21

Salina South W,42-10

Carroll W,42-21

GARDNER-EDGERTON (12-0)

DeSoto W,62-22

Baldwin W,56-0

Paola W,42-14

Louisburg W,40-0

Spring Hill W,55-0

Eudora W,26-0

Pittsburg W,52-12

St. Thomas Aquinas W,28-26

Ottawa W,48-6

Playoffs

KC Schlagle W,49-0

Topeka Seaman W,56-21

St. Thomas Aquinas W,49-7

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Hutchinson

RB Josh Smith 5-10 215 Sr.

DL Geneo Grissom6-4 225 Sr.

RB Deveon Dinwiddie 5-9 170 Sr.

DL Justin Goetz 6-1 210 Sr.

LB Tyler Fee 6-0 200 Sr.

DB Ben Heeney 6-1 195 Jr.

OL Evan Wilder 6-2 265 Sr.

Gardner-Edgerton

QB Bubba Starling 6-5 195 Jr.

OL Cameron McLain 6-3 285 Sr.

LB Jeremy McLennan 5-10 175 Sr.

RB Brett Jensen 6-0 210 Jr.

WR Justice Berry 6-2 200 Sr.

OL Lucas Powell 6-4 280 Jr.

TE Alex Knorr 6-3 215 Jr.

NOTES

„øGardner-Edgerton had sparse football tradition before coach Marvin Diener arrived in 2007. In his first season, the Blazers won their first playoff game.

„øHutchinson is playing for its sixth consecutive state championship, which would be a state record. (Smith Center is also trying for same mark in Class 2-1A Saturday.)

„ Starling missed two games earlier this season with a separated shoulder. The junior still accumulated 2,600 total yards and 35 touchdowns.

„øSmith and Dinwiddie will conclude standout careers. The two have combined for more than 8,000 rushing yards the last three seasons and have averaged almost 9 yards-per-carry on 919 carries.

„øGardner-Edgerton’s defense has been dominant this season. The Blazers have outscored opponents 563-108 with five shutouts. Besides a two-point win over St. Thomas Aquinas, the next-closest win is 26 points.

„ Even more impressive has been Hutchinson. Last week’s 42-21 win over Carroll was the closest game of the season and Hutch has outscored opponents by an average of 46-8 through three quarters this season.

Hutchinson coach Randy Dreiling

“The six in a row thing is so insignificant because you can’t think about six in a row until you’ve done six in a row. It’s our seniors’ state championship game. We don’t need any extra motivation.”

Gardner-Edgerton coach Marvin Diener

“I’m very proud of our boys. I really am. They really became good football players fast. The amount of work that they have done is almost ridiculous. The kids are very focused about this week. They absolutely are. This is not a field trip. This is a football game and they are approaching it that way.”

— Taylor Eldridge

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