Maize South still relies on toughness
For a program that’s only been around for the current decade, Maize South’s football team has shown flashes of old school toughness.
Earlier this season, the Mavericks did it by shutting out their first three opponents and flirted with a fourth against Mulvane.
On Friday, with a chill in the air and a district title on the line, Maize South took down Andover Central with true grit.
The Mavericks forced six turnovers and rode workhorse running back Max Domnick’s 197 yards and three touchdowns to a 23-13 victory at Andover District Stadium, finishing the regular season at 8-1 with a Class 4A-I-District 6 championship.
Maize South will host District 5 runner-up Wellington (5-4) in next Friday’s first round of the playoffs.
“We get a home game because of this and that’s huge,” said Domnick, who churned his yards on 45 attempts. “It’s always good to get the district title. That feels really good. It was just a good night.”
Maize South trailed 13-7 in the final minute of the first half when Andover Central quarterback Reagan Jones and running back Mitchell Allison failed to connect on a handoff. Maize South’s John Moses recovered the ball at Central’s 3, setting up Domnick’s touchdown plunge three plays later that gave the Mavericks a 14-13 lead just 14 seconds before the break.
“I think that was the turning point of the game,” said Maize South defensive back Jack Wagner, who had one of the Mavericks’ three interceptions. “That really gave us momentum.”
Maize South’s defense contributed to the scoring by tackling with a safety after punter Korban Trapp pinned the Jaguars at the 1. Maize South receiver Corey Minks returned the ensuing free kick 45 yards to the Central 34, and the Mavericks followed with a huge dose of Domnick.
No injury for Northwest’s Marcus Hicks
It was a scary sight on Friday night during Northwest’s 68-28 victory over Southeast: Junior Marcus Hicks and a teammate collided head-first.
Hicks, one of the nation’s top defensive end recruits in the Class of 2019, complained of neck pain and was rushed to a nearby hospital by ambulance. A CT scan revealed there had been no fractures and that Hicks did not suffer a concussion.
“Anytime you have an injury involving the neck, we’re going to take the most precautionary route we can,” Northwest coach Steve Martin said. “We didn’t want to risk anything and our trainers did a great job of handling it.
“It looks like there was no concussion, no fractures, anything like that. He’s just going to have a sore neck.”
Hicks has not yet been cleared to play in Northwest’s next playoff game, Friday at home against Campus, but Martin said he is optimistic for a full recovery in time to play this Friday.
Andover’s second win over Valley Center was tougher
Andover beat Valley Center by 35 points in Week 8, setting up a rematch in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Things were much tighter the second time around.
Freshman David Kemp’s third field goal of the the game, from 23 yards out, was the game-winner in Andover’s 29-27 win.
“I knew it was going to be tougher,” Andover coach Cade Armstrong said. “(Valley Center coach) Caleb (Smith) watches so much film and they do a great job of scheming that is was going to be a tough game.”
Two straight touchdowns gave Valley Center a 27-20 lead with 9:33 left, but freshman quarterback Eli Fahnestock responded with a quick drive and a five-yard touchdown run. The Trojans, however, fumbled the extra point and were left trailing 27-26.
After regaining possession, Fahnestock controlled the Trojans’ offense with poise, setting up Kemp’s kick.
“I was just telling them we would’ve had to score anyways because the game would’ve have been tied,” said Fahnestock, who also threw two first-half TD passes. “I was just like, ‘It’s all right. We still have a chance for a field goal, but let’s go score a touchdown,’ which we didn’t do. But David still did a great job of coming in and making a clutch kick.”
Andover travels to No. 1 seed Goddard on Thursday.
Heights offense adds variety
Deante Edwards might be Heights best wide receiver. On Friday, he was the Falcon’s best a quarterback. Edwards passed for three touchdowns, scored on a punt return and rushed for 122 yards in Heights’ 41-26 win over Newton in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Edwards is playing quarterback because K’Vonte Baker is nursing an ankle sprain. Baker still rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on Friday, giving Heights a multi-faceted offense.
Heights (6-3) plays Maize on the road in next week’s second round.
“He’s just done a great job,” Heights coach Terry Harrison said of Edwards. “He’s had to play (quarterback) a lot, we’ve been in a weird spot – K’Vonte has been injured for a while. We decided this week we would play Deante and let K’Vonte get his touches at running back.
“That gave Deante a good week to practice and obviously it paid off.”
Edwards’ strong arm led to three touchdown passes in the first half to Braxton Kirkendoll.
The other touchdown Heights used to build a 28-7 lead was Edwards’ 52-yard punt return. Baker was spotlighted later as his final first-half carry and first attempt of the second half turned into touchdowns, with a 70-yarder just after halftime.
“K’Vonte’s had a weird year, he’s been hurt so much,” Harrison said. “But we’ve been practicing stuff all summer. Deante has probably been our best receiver until he’s become our quarterback as of late. We just want to win. If that means we have to run it every play, we’ll do that. If we have to throw a little bit more, we’ll do that, too.”
Eisenhower on verge of another Cinderella run
Eisenhower coach Marc Marinelli knows what it’s like to make a deep run in the playoffs as a lower seed. The Tigers reached the Class 5A semifinals in 2015 as a No. 6 seed.
Eisenhower, a 12 seed in this year’s expanded playoffs, pulled off a first-round upset at Great Bend on Friday with its 35-28 victory. After an 0-5 start, the Tigers have won four straight games.
“We’ve lost close games and won lopsided games, but we haven’t really had to battle in a close one down to the wire and come out on top,” Marinelli said. “I think that’s the most important thing our football team takes away from this. In the playoffs, all we need to do is win by one so we keep moving on.”
Quarterback Ty Trudo has excelled in the last three weeks in Eisenhower’s flexbone attack and Great Bend’s defense made its top priority taking Trudo away. That cleared the way for fullback Justis Moore, who scored four touchdowns and rushed for 227 yards.
Moore’s 3-yard touchdown with 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winner.
“We’re reading that first d-lineman and if he squeezes down and takes away the fullback, then Ty is going to keep it,” Marinelli said. “That’s how most teams play it. But we showed that when teams try to take away Ty, then we’ve got some other dudes who can do something too.”
More Goddard-Eisenhower rivalry
After No. 1 seed Goddard (9-0) also won its first-round playoff game, there was some question which team would be able to use the district stadium that the two schools share on Friday night.
Since Goddard was technically the home team in this year’s game against Eisenhower, it was determined that Eisenhower will host Salina South on Friday, while Goddard will host Andover on Thursday.
“I guess it was decided upon before this week, maybe even when this playoff system came out that they agreed that it would alternate,” Marinelli said. “It doesn’t really matter what night we play, we’re just happy to keep playing.”
“That was a decision made above my head,” Goddard coach Scott Vang said. “I wish we were playing on Friday night, but we’re going to get it going on Thursday instead.”
If the two teams win again this week, then Goddard and Eisenhower would meet in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Mistakes costly for West
West led its first-round Class 6A playoff game for much of the night, but mistakes eventually led to their demise. Junction City scored with 2:16 left in the game and bet the Pioneers 28-21.
West (5-4) improves on last season’s 3-6 mark, but the season ended with a frustrating loss.
“It was a successful season. This was an incredibly disappointing loss,” West offensive coordinator Brent Glann said. “We were right there and gave it away.”
West committed just one turnover, a fumble in the third quarter, but the other mistakes that were costly. A blocked field goal was returned 89 yards for a touchdown to bring the Blue Jays within striking distance.
On Junction City’s game-winning drive, the Pioneers were called for a late hit out-of-bounds, pushing Junction City even closer to the goal line.
West had one final opportunity to score but turned it over on downs with just over a minute to go.
“Once we get calmed down from this,” Glann said. “We’ll realize it was a good year.”
Jackson Nichols steps up in Carroll’s win
Jackson Nichols is no stranger to stepping up in Bishop Carroll’s backfield.
Nichols provided relief last season as a sophomore and he was once again called upon on Friday in Carroll’s first playoff game, as Nichols stepped into a starting role and produced 202 rushing yards and six touchdowns in Carroll’s 66-38 win over Arkansas City.
Carroll’s previous starter, Desmond Smith, is out for the playoffs after suffering a broken ankle in last week’s win over Kapaun Mount Carmel.
“Jackson has had some quality minutes on the field and he’s gradually improved for us,” Trail said. “He did a really nice job. He was decisive, saw his crease, made his cut, and accelerated. I’m hoping he saw what kind of success is possible when he does that.”
Carroll (8-1) will host Kapaun (6-3) again this Friday in the second round.
Collegiate goes to the run to extend season
Backed up into a win-or-go-home game, Collegiate coach Mike Gehrer knew the Spartans would have to establish their running game against Trinity Academy.
Collegiate did exactly that, running for a season-high 356 yards as it ran away from Trinity for a 42-14 victory. The Spartans (5-4) will play at Smoky Valley (8-1) in the first round of the 4A-II playoffs Friday.
“We knew we needed to be more effective running the football,” Gehrer said. “Our offensive line has really come to life the last couple of weeks. That’s something we needed to add to our repertoire. I thought our defense stepped up and made plays too, which is huge for us too.”
Quarterback Cody McNerney finished with a season-high 206 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while tailback Grant Deiter added 147 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Pratt out of 4A-II playoffs
Kingman beat Pratt 39-25 on Friday, preventing the defending Class 4A-II champion from reaching the playoffs.
Kingman rushed for nearly 450 yards and locked up the second spot in District 8. Holcomb won the district.
Pratt took a 25-24 lead on a Landon Studer touchdown pass with 8:45 remaining in the game.
Will Milford’s 18-yard TD run reclaimed the lead for Kingman with 3:33 left, and his 68-yard TD run in the final minute clinched the win. Milford finished with 286 rushing yards and four touchdowns.