Ten things from the first week of the high school football season that caught the eye of high school sports reporter Taylor Eldridge.
1. Howell takes next step in Carroll’s 40-35 win over Northwest
Bishop Carroll couldn’t have taken back bragging rights in its west-side rivalry with Northwest without the play of senior quarterback Braden Howell in its 40-35 last-second victory at Northwest.
Howell helped the team escape a 14-point hole in the first half and finished the game with more than 300 yards passing and nearly 400 yards of total offense. He connected on long touchdown passes to Carlos Davis and Thomas Helten, then scored on a pair of rushing touchdowns.
“Braden took a huge, huge step in his leadership of the offense tonight,” Carroll coach Dusty Trail said. “He took control of the situation and I’ve never seen him do the things he did on the field tonight. He was so confident in what he was doing and I think tonight is just a big step in his career as a quarterback. I always knew he had the ability and talent, but he put it all together for us tonight.”
His finest play of the game came when Carroll was trailing 35-34 in the fourth quarter. On a third-and-9 play, Howell scrambled out of the pocket and had a linebacker crashing toward him, only to send him flying by with a spin move as Howell lowered his helmet and pushed for the first down.
Four minutes later, Desmond Smith scampered in for the winning score with 14 seconds remaining.
“I think we were all amped up because we wanted to win this one bad,” Howell said. “We had to get that taste of defeat out of our mouths from the last two years. This feels pretty good.”
2. Conway Springs scores 98 points in 38 plays
Conway Springs coach Matt Biehler never imagined his team coming two points away from scoring 100 points.
But that was a reality on Friday when Conway Springs won 98-18 over Belle Plaine, setting a program record for points scored.
The Cardinals scored their 14 touchdowns on 38 plays, which accounted for 729 yards of offense. That’s a touchdown less than every third play and more than 19 yards every snap.
“We never thought we would be able to do anything like that,” Biehler said by phone after the game. “The kids executed the play that was drawn up for them and we had a lot of big, explosive plays.”
Trenton Jones (181), Riley Akiu (160), and Colton Terhune (156) led the rushing attack for Conway Springs, which led 66-12 at halftime. The starters were pulled early in the third quarter, and Conway Springs’ second unit scored three more times — all from more than 30 yards away from the end zone.
“We ran 90 percent of our plays between the tackles,” Biehler said. “Our kids just executed well and came off the ball fast and played hard. When the kids got in the open field, they just continued to run. It’s one of those things where we just executed one of our basic plays really well and they ran hard.”
Belle Plaine coach Jason Jinkens said that Conway Springs “was not unsportsmanlike in any way,” and said his defense “just couldn’t get stops.”
3. Heights loses on the road, without starting backfield
The preseason No. 3 team in Class 5A, Heights allowed a 19-0 lead to slip away and turn into a 39-25 road loss to Olathe North.
But the Falcons’ flexbone offense was without its top three returning options, as quarterback K’Vonte Baker and running backs Dejuan Scott and Braxton Kirkendoll did not play. Heights coach Terry Harrison said the trio will also miss next week’s game against Northwest, but will return in Week 3. Harrison did not give a reason why the three players did not play.
Olathe North scored three non-offensive touchdowns — on an interception, punt, and fumble return — to swing the game in the second half.
“You take those away and we still come out on top,” Harrison said. “We just turned the ball over too many times and made too many mistakes. We have a lot of room for improvement and all of our goals are still attainable. Nothing changes. We still have a chance to be a pretty good team, but man we’ve got some work to do.”
Deante Edwards (113), Armaad Hubbard (110), and Hagen Henderson (80) combined for 303 rushing yards and three touchdowns for Heights.
4. Campus’ Harvey accounts for seven TDs, and intercepts three passes
Campus was looking for an impressive statement to open the season and senior Federico Harvey delivered one in the Colts’ 48-20 victory over Arkansas City.
As quarterback, Harvey threw for well over 300 yards with six touchdowns and another touchdown running. As a corner back, Harvey picked off three passes — including a one-handed grab that electrified the Campus sideline and was Harvey’s signature play of the night.
“That is pretty special for a kid to be able to play the game at such a high level on both sides of the ball,” Campus coach Greg Slade said. “He was really, really good for us (Friday) and he did a great job of competing.”
5. McPherson knocks off Buhler on the road
Beating Buhler under Steve Warner has been no easy task and controlling the line of scrimmage has been even more difficult.
But McPherson accomplished both in its 33-21 victory at Buhler, knocking off the preseason No. 2-ranked team in Class 4A I. The Bullpups limited Buhler to 51 yards and 1.3 yards per attempt, as they built a 19-0 halftime lead and held on for the win.
“You just don’t control the line of scrimmage against Buhler, that just doesn’t happen,” McPherson coach Jace Pavlovich said. “I was so proud of our guys up front. Wyatt Seidl, Michael Mendez, Cody Stufflebean were all great for us, then our two linebackers, Jayse Alexander and Kollin Goering, are two of the best we’ve ever had.”
First-year quarterback Kyler Hoppes threw for 246 yards and scored four touchdowns for McPherson, which jumped to No. 2 in the 4A I rankings following the victory.
6. Channel has big half in Kapaun’s opening win
Coming off of a 2-7 season, Kapaun Mount Carmel coach Dan Adelhardt challenged his team to make a statement that this season would be different.
Senior Nick Channel accomplished that, scoring four touchdowns, including one on special teams, and adding an interception on defense — all in the first half of Kapaun’s 57-6 romp over Southeast. Channel finished with 139 rushing yards on nine carries.
“That’s a kid who doesn’t ever miss a workout,” Adelhardt said. “He knows the kind of conditioning it’s going to take to play both ways for us this year and he’s obviously up for the challenge. He was there at the right time, right place on defense, then when he gets the ball he just runs really hard for us.”
7. Northwest finds a new 1-2 punch in its running game
When Breece Hall and Roy Johnson entered the Northwest program as freshmen, coach Steve Martin knew someday they would be big-play threats on varsity.
The problem was they have been stuck behind college-caliber running backs their first two seasons. Now Northwest is turning to the pair of juniors to be its next 1-2 punch in the running game and the duo responded well in a season-opening 40-35 loss to Carroll.
Hall stepped into the workhorse role and finished with 187 total yards and two touchdowns, while Johnson added 49 rushing yards and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
“Both of those guys have been waiting in the wings and growing up on the JV circuit,” Martin said. “You never know how things are going to translate from Monday to Friday nights, but we had a pretty good feeling about those two. Breece played well, then Roy is such a dynamic threat in our kicking game. I don’t think a lot of teams are going to kick to him this season if he keeps it up.”
8. The Derby quarterback competition continues
Derby entered the season entertaining the possibility of junior Hunter Igo or sophomore Grant Adler starting at quarterback. Both had their moments on Friday during Derby’s 48-14 victory over Eisenhower, but neither separated enough to earn the full-time job.
Igo rushed for 41 yards and threw for 117 yards with an interception in the first half, then Adler finished in the second half with 5-of-6 passing for 78 yards and a touchdown to go along with a rushing score.
Coach Brandon Clark said he is willing to to let both play quarterback early in the season, but a final decision will need to be made sooner rather than later.
“There’s going to come a point where we’re going to need both on the field,” Clark said. “So we’re going to have to go with one, then move the other to receiver or maybe some running back or as a d-back. Right now if teams want to stop the run, we’re going to go with Adler and if they want to stop the pass, then we’ll play Igo.”
9. Andover wins its first game under Armstrong
Winning the opening game of the season was important to first-year coach Cade Armstrong at Andover.
“I put the kids through a lot this summer with all of the work-outs and the boot camp and the practices,” Armstrong said. “I knew how hard they had worked, so I felt like they deserved to win.”
Andover did just that in its 26-14 victory over Salina Central, as the Trojans rallied for 20 second-half points on the road. Freshman quarterback Eli Fahnestock threw for two touchdowns and added another score rushing. Andover’s defense also held Salina Central to 228 yards.
10. Grover part of seven touchdowns in Cheney’s win over Trinity
When coach Shelby Wehrman came to Cheney, he made it his first priority to improve the running game.
That may not have initially sounded appealing to quarterback Micah Grover, but the new balanced offense unlocked Grover’s playmaking ability in the running game in Cheney’s 49-20 win over Trinity on Friday.
Cheney ran on 40 of its 62 plays, as Grover finished with 62 rushing yards and four touchdowns. In the passing game, Grover threw for 205 yards and three more touchdowns, as Trent Scheer finished with nine catches for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Part of our plan this year was to run the ball more and that included him running the ball more,” Wehrman said. “I thought Micah did a good job of executing our offense and you could tell he was pretty comfortable back there as a senior. He did a good job of running hard for us and he was able to score a couple of times.”