Bishop Carroll football coach Alan Schuckman didn't need to sell his team on the idea of Salina South's 4-5 record being deceptive.
"Our kids were ready to play," Schuckman said after Carroll put an end to South's season Friday with a 24-7 Class 5A playoff win at Carroll. "I think you saw that with the (17-0) halftime score. I'm just a little disappointed with the sloppy play in the second half.
"We'll get that corrected. "They knew (South) was a good opponent and you can't overlook anyone."
Carroll (9-1), which will host Emporia in next Friday's quarterfinals, did just about everything it needed to in the first half to prove why it could be a favorite to win the state championship.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Eagles dominated the Cougar offense in the first half, then flexed its offensive muscle. The Eagles even used a trick play to subdue South (4-6) before halftime.
Leading 7-0 in the second quarter, Carroll quarterback Zeke Palmer threw a lateral to Bryce Harvey five yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Harvey then connected with junior Matt Denning, who had slipped behind the Cougars' defense, for a 49-yard touchdown catch.
"We've been working on that for a couple weeks now and the opportunity presented itself," Carroll senior Jacob Schwindt said of the halfback option pass. "Harvey came out and executed it. Everyone blocked, did their part.
"I knew my job to keep the guy off Bryce, and I was excited when I saw Matt catch that. I was pumped."
As much momentum as the Eagles seemed to have after Chris Bailey's 21-yard field goal with no time left in the first half, South didn't go away. Despite losing senior quarterback Christian Linenberger to a shoulder injury in the first half, South was able to keep things interesting in the second half. A 34-yard touchdown run by Mike Jones early in the third quarter pulled South within 17-7, then the Cougars' defense stiffened.
But a 33-yard pass completion from Palmer to Schwindt near the end of the third quarter on a third down deep in the Eagles' own territory helped deflate South's hope of a comeback.
"(South) had played Hutchinson close, they had played a lot of good teams close, so we knew we would be in a dogfight if we wanted to come out of here on top," Schwindt said after catching six passes for 99 yards.
Salina South0 0 7 0 — 7 Bishop Carroll7 10 0 7 — 24
BC—Palmer 8 run (Bailey kick)
BC—Denning 49 pass from Harvey (Bailey kick)
BC—Bailey 21 FG
SS—Jones 34 run (Wearing kick)
BC—Hernandez 8 run (Bailey kick)
Rushing—Salina South, Jones 15-83, Busby 7-29, Stonebraker 7-21, Shirk 3-19, Linenberger 6-9, Munsch 3-9. Carroll, Hernandez 10-64, Palmer 17-50, J. Linnebur 7-42, Fayette 3-(-4).
Passing—Salina South, Stonebraker 1-3-0-8, Linenberger 0-1-0-0, Busby 0-1-0-0. Carroll, Palmer 17-25-1-190, Harvey 1-1-0-49.
Receiving—Salina South, Burns 1-8. Carroll, Schwindt 6-99, Denning 2-58, Harvey 5-47, Melillo 2-21, S. Linnebur 1-8, J. Linnebur 2-6.