When Mulvane football coach Dave Fennewald looks back on the Wildcats’ season-opening 17-15 loss at El Dorado, what he sees is a dramatic maturation.
“We’re awfully young,” Fennewald said. “On our offensive line, we started three sophomores, a sophomore at linebacker. Even our juniors and seniors were on (junior varsity) last year. I’ve seen them matured through the season. I think our sophomores are playing like juniors now, which you expect them to do as the season progresses.”
Mulvane (4-6) will play host to Topeka Hayden (9-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in the Class 4A-Division I quarterfinals.
Hayden has beaten Mulvane in their last two meetings, which came in the second round of the 2010 and 2011 4A playoffs.
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Mulvane advanced to the quarterfinals by beating McPherson 28-25 in the first round, while Hayden beat Coffeyville 40-16.
“What I’ve been most proud of with our kids is the resiliency that we’ve showed,” Fennewald said. “We lost to El Dorado, lost to Buhler. We just kept telling our kids, ‘It’s not a sprint, it’s a race.’ We wanted them to keep believing and keep working because when you get to October, that’s when it matters. We knew we had a chance to be a good team.”
Quarterback R.J. Rieger had 222 passing yards against McPherson. He has 1,891 passing yards and a team-high 561 rushing.