SALINA — The most important statistic from Bishop Miege's 28-6 victory over Topeka Hayden in the Class 4A title game may seem ordinary, but it may have essentially changed the whole complexion of the game.
Justin McCay — the Stags' standout wide receiver headed to Oklahoma — touched the ball only four times for 45 yards and no touchdowns, mostly because the Wildcats often times double- or triple-teamed him.
But by doing this, Hayden opened up a Miege offense that showed creativity, diversity and explosiveness in finding its other weapons.
Whether it was using running back Bobby Germinder (138 yards on 32 carries) or quarterback Max Shortell (332 yards passing and four touchdowns), the Stags rolled up 488 yards and made quick work of the defending champions Saturday afternoon at Salina District Stadium.
"Our seniors came into this program with me and we have put in a lot of work to get this thing to where it is now," Bishop Miege coach Tim Grunhard said. "I'm still in shock.
"It's been 32 years since we have won a state championship and it takes some luck and a little bit of talent to win. But, most importantly, it takes a lot of love and we had all three of those things this year."
Despite trying to find ways to utilize McCay — he was used at flanker, tight end, fullback and kick returner —Hayden usually had either a linebacker or a safety, along with a cornerback, lined up with him at the line of scrimmage to bump him off his routes.
McCay ended up being a decoy of sorts but the Stags had that prepared in their gameplan.
"Coach told all of us before the game that Justin was going to be double teamed," Bishop Miege's Trevor Releford said. "He also said that the rest of us would have to step our game up."
And that they did.
Releford finished with two catches for 126 yards. Tight end Jamie Kostelac caught two balls for 91 yards, while receiver Seamus Martin had 84 yards on three catches.
"It becomes almost impossible to defend them," Topeka Hayden coach Bill Arnold said. "We tried to bring blitzes but their offensive line is so good, that didn't work either."
What was perhaps the most impressive part of Miege's offense was how few plays it took for it to score. The Stags first drive was three plays, 78 yards, ending with Releford's 78-yard touchdown catch from Shortell.
Miege's third series went 94 yards in three plays, with Kostelac making a remarkable, one-handed catch from Shortell and running it in from 86 yards.
On their final scoring drive, the Stags needed only one play — Shortell's 62-yard pass to Seamus Martin, who followed Kostelac's lead and made a bobbling, one-handed grab then ran into the endzone.
"We wanted to run the ball, but at the same time we had some big plays drawn up," Shortell said. "It's always nice to execute those big plays when you are in a state championship game."
Topeka Hayden (9-5) 0 0 6 0 — 6 Bishop Miege (12-2) 7 14 7 0 — 28
BM—Releford 78 pass from Shortell (Zinser kick)
BM—Kostelac 5 pass from Shortell (Zinser kick)
BM—Kostelac 86 pass from Shortell (Zinser kick)
BM—Martin 62 pass from Shortell (Zinser kick)
TH—Engroff 3 pass from Banister (kick failed)
Rushing—Hayden, Banister 9-55, Nicol 13-51, Morrow 4-25, Engroff 5-10, Arnold 2-(-13); Miege, Germinder 32-138, McCay 2-14, Shortell 3-10, Martin 1-(-6).
Passing—Hayden, Arnold 5-11-84-1, Banister 1-3-3-0, Morrow 0-1-0-0; Miege, Shortell 9-12-332-0, Martin 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Hayden, Morrow 3-41, Martin 1-29, Nicol 1-14, Engroff 1-3; Miege, Releford 2-126, Kostelac 2-91, Martin 3-84, McCay 2-31.