Varsity Kansas

Heights overwhelms Rural in playoff opener

Jonathan Wilcoxson plays an important role in the success of Heights’ running game, but that success is part of what keeps him from grabbing attention from the players he sits behind on the Falcons’ depth chart.

Heights has so many quick scoring drives that feature big plays from its top three rushers that Wilcoxson’s contributions are usually limited to situations when the Falcons have a big lead.

Friday, Wilcoxson got to be in the center of a scoring drive while making a pair of big plays. He accumulated 183 yards on six touches as Heights beat Washburn Rural 43-0 in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.

“He’s in tall company,” Heights coach Rick Wheeler said. “We’ve had a lot of drives this year that were only two or three or four plays and he just hadn’t gotten his number called. He’s had a lot of big plays. He’s showed he has the speed to take it to the house.

“He’s such a great blocker, though. That’s his biggest impact on our team, is the great blocking that he does. But he’s certainly a very capable running back.”

Heights, the defending 6A champion and the state’s top-ranked team, stretched its winning streak to 23 games and recorded its fifth shutout.

Rural initially appeared prepared for Heights’ multi-faceted running attack, stopping the Falcons for negative yards on their first two plays.

That prompted Heights to try something different on third down. Backup quarterback Chris Reed threw deep for Wilcoxson, who briefly had to stop his progress to catch the ball before outrunning Rural defenders to the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown.

“I saw the safety coming down so I knew I was going to be open,” Wilcoxson said.

Wilcoxson didn’t have a carry in the first half, giving way to Marquel Moore, Matt Reed and Kenneth Iheme to lead the offense. In the second half, he rushed five times for 98 yards, including a 64-yard run in the fourth.

His blocking also contributed to another dominating performance by Heights’ running game, with Moore, Matt Reed and Iheme combining for more than 200 yards. Iheme scored three touchdowns on six touches. Reed was limited due to an ankle injury suffered in the first half.

“My dad always told me to make the most of every opportunity, and that’s what I always try to do,” Wilcoxson said.

Heights led 14-0 after less than six minutes on Wilcoxson’s long score and a 40-yard interception return by Jett Moreland. Rural threatened to make it close but couldn’t overcome its mistakes.

The Blues fumbled on Heights’ 1-yard line in the first quarter after recovering a Heights fumble. In the second quarter, a penalty on fourth down kept Heights drive alive before the Falcons scored on Kenneth Iheme’s 59-yard run that completed a 99-yard trek.

“In the first half the ball bounced our way a couple times and really helped us out,” Wheeler said. “We gave up some first downs, but we really bowed our necks down in the red zone.”

Washburn Rural (6-4) 0 0 0 0 — 0

Wichita Heights (10-0) 14 15 7 7 — 43

H—Wilcoxson 85 pass from C. Reed (Hoyer kick))

H—Moreland 40 INT return (Hoyer kick)

H—Iheme 59 run (Packer pass from Parker)

H—Moore 4 run (Hoyer kick)

H—Iheme 14 pass from M. Reed (Hoyer kick)

H—Iheme 10 run (Hoyer kick)

Individual Statistics

Rushing—Washburn Rural, Dozier 16-50, Belaire 12-33, Singer 3-2, Curtis 10-(-5). Heights, Wilcoxson 5-98, Moore 14-81, Iheme 4-72, M. Reed 9-63, King 4-20, Garrett 2-5, C. Reed 5-4, Byrd 1-1.

Passing—Washburn Rural, Curtis 11-18-154-1. Heights, C. Reed 1-1-85-0, M. Reed 2-4-40-0.

Receiving—Washburn Rural, Dozier 5-21, Schmank 3-62, Singer 2-62, Belair 1-9. Heights, Iheme 2-40, Wilcoxson 1-85.