What Derby did on Friday wasn’t unlike what it’s done in each game since a painful season-opening loss to Salina South.
The Panthers’ defense dominated. Their offense mixed bruising running with efficient passing. Special teams were solid.
It looked like a typical night for the state’s No. 1-ranked team. But Derby’s 36-0 shellacking of Hutchinson also provided an opportunity for some past battle scars against a formidable but beaten-up rival to heal.
“They’re who we’re trying to be in terms of our program,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “Their kids have been running their system since second grade. They know what they’re doing.
“Their twos, their JV — it’s not like they can’t run their stuff. It just might not be as good as the person in front of them.”
But Derby, which had lost five straight to the Salthawks – including twice last season –was ready. Running back Tyler West returned in full force from a Week 2 hamstring injury and ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Jeremy Dunham added 142 passing yards, 102 on the ground and a 52-yard run early in the third quarter that was the knockout punch.
“It feels great,” said Dunham, who guided the Panthers on a seven-play, 80-yard drive late in the second quarter that gave Derby a 20-0 lead. “It’s a good rivalry. It feels good anytime you can beat Hutch because they’re always a good program. You know you’ve got to bring your best game when you play them.”
If ever the time was right for Derby to exorcise a few demons, Friday was the night. Hutchinson, shut out for the first time since a 21-0 loss to Bishop Carroll in the Class 5A semifinals, entered the game minus eight injured starters. Senior Braydon Wells made his first varsity start at quarterback for Turner Wintz, who sustained a concussion in the Salthawks’ 48-10 loss to Salina South last week.
Wells was injured in the third quarter and did not return. Senior Jared Page became the fifth fullback to play for Hutch in its flexbone offense this season.
“I check my mailbox every day,” Hutchinson coach Randy Dreiling said. “I don’t get sympathy cards from anyone.”
Derby certainly wasn’t playing that role. The Panthers outgained the Salthawks 394-79 and allowed Hutchinson to run just two offensive plays in Derby territory.
The Salthawks lost four fumbles against Salina South, and Friday started ominously, too. Luther Tolbert bobbled the opening kickoff and was tackled at Hutch’s 11. Four plays later, Page dropped a handoff and Derby’s David Tullis recovered.
The Panthers missed on the early chance to score when West fumbled the ball in the end zone and Hutchinson’s Colin O’Neal recovered for a touchback.
But the Salthawks quickly punted, and Derby’s fun began.
The Panthers marched 67 yards in 14 plays, converting on four third downs. West scored the game’s first points on a 5-yard run to start the second quarter.
Dunham, who completed 7 of 9 passes, hit tight end DeAndre Goolsby for a 39-yard touchdown on Derby’s next possession. Goolsby caught the ball near the line of scrimmage, juked a defender and raced down the visitor’s sideline.
Hutchinson, which attempted just two passes, consumed more than five minutes with its next possession. But Derby got the ball back with 2:23 to play in the first half, and made the most of it.
Dunham connected with Goolsby for 11 yards to convert another third down. Then he found receiver Luke Palmer wide open on a 42-yard play. The two added a 23-yard connection to Hutch’s 6, and West finished the drive on two running plays, the latter with 35 seconds left in the half.
“That was huge for us,” Dunham said. “It just gave us even more momentum for the third quarter.”
Hutchinson, held to 40 yards in the first half, managed just 39 after the break. Dunham got his long touchdown run after a great fake to West on the zone read, making it 27-0. Tim Williamson added a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter, and backup quarterback Caleb Arnold connected with Garrett Xanders for a 7-yard touchdown pass in the fourth to cap the scoring.
Since losing to Salina South, Derby has outscored opponents 232-41 in a five-game winning streak. In one respect, the Panthers savored their victory over Hutchinson.
In another, they realized how important it was heading into Class 6A district play.
“It’s a great win, especially since we’re bringing momentum into these next games that are real important,” Dunham said. “This was a big momentum game for us.”
D—West 5 run (Williamson kick)
D—Goolsby 39 pass from Dunham (Williamson kick)
D—West 2 run (kick failed)
D—Dunham 52 run (Williamson kick)
D—Williamson 34 FG
D—Xanders 7 pass from Arnold (kick blocked)
Rushing—Hutchinson, Page 15-48, Murillo 9-18, Webster 1-3, Wells 7-3, Garcia 7-2. Derby, West 22-119, Dunham 13-102, Arnold 7-18, Xanders 3-6.
Passing—Hutchinson, Webster 1-1-5-0, Wells 0-1-0-0. Derby, Dunham 7-9-142-0, Arnold 1-1-7-0.
Receiving—Hutchinson, Hudson 1-5. Derby, Goolsby 5-77, Palmer 2-65.