It took about nine minutes Thursday night for the talk about Collegiate to shift to the Class 3A first-round game.
By then, the Spartans were well on their way to a 50-0 drubbing of Wichita Independent and already anticipating a matchup with Garden Plain on Tuesday at Collegiate.
Collegiate knew it could celebrate its second straight Class 3A-District 11 title and undefeated regular season, but that wasn't the focus after the game.
"We've got to prove ourselves," said Collegiate quarterback Blake Jablonski, who threw for 301 yards and five touchdowns. "It came easy these first nine games, but Tuesday night is going to be a tough one for us."
It always has been. In a 2007 district game, Garden Plain beat the Spartans 63-0. Things have changed, according to Collegiate coach Bill Messamore.
"I think our defense is much improved from last year," he said. "I think we play better offense than last year. We do think we're a better team than we were last year at 9-0."
But are they?
Rare for the smaller classifications, Collegiate's aerial attack appears to have sharpened. That, according to Jablonski, is a credit to stabilization at the quarterback position.
"Last year we had me and Tre (Bailey) rotating at quarterback," Jablonski said. "Now it's just me and we all just know our roles now and we're doing them good."
Crisp routes will be a must next week and even on a muddy field, the receiving group delivered. Brett LeMaster finished with 119 receiving yards, all three of Bryce Cornejo's catches went for scores and Bailey added two more touchdowns.
"It's always a tendency of mine when I catch it to want to try and move around out there," LeMaster said, "but tonight you just had to take what you could get and get down or get out. It was a lot harder."
Collegiate's front seven dominated the line of scrimmage. In a half of play, the starters held Independent to 30 yards on 24 plays. Cornejo and freshman Markus Phox returned interceptions for touchdowns to build a 44-0 halftime lead.
Now, Collegiate has another chance to prove its legitimacy.
"We don't want to put a lot of pressure on ourselves," Tyler Coughenour said. "We know people think we're not that good because we don't play that great of a schedule, so we need to come out and win a playoff game to get a reputation."
Wichita Independent (2-7, 1-2) 0 0 0 0 — 0 Wichita Collegiate (9-0, 3-0) 26 18 6 0 — 50
C—Cornejo 17 pass from Jablonski (kick failed)
C—Cornejo 57 pass from Jablonski (run failed)
C—Phox 41 interception return (kick failed)
C—Bailey 14 pass from Jablonski (Taylor run)
C—Cornejo 56 interception return (kick failed)
C—Bailey 13 pass from Jablonski (pass failed)
C—Taylor 3 run (pass failed)
C—Cornejo 10 pass from Jablonski (pass failed)
Rushing—Independent, Byrd 16-47, Dean 8-18, Dunne 5-11, Poynter 1-0, Palmer 1-(-1), Lewonowski 2-(-3). Collegiate, Taylor 8-63, Franklin 4-43, Phox 4-29, Jablonski 2-13, Cornejo 1-4, Atnip 1-(-4).
Passing—Independent, Dunne 2-11-2-3, Loveland 0-1-0-0, Neville 0-1-0-0. Collegiate, Jablonski 20-29-301-0, Phox 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Independent, Neville 1-4, Dean 1-(-1). Collegiate, LeMaster 7-119, Cornejo 3-84, Bailey 3-42, Taylor 4-36, Searle 2-18, Coughenor 1-2.