Xavier Bell put him on a poster.
Bell, a junior receiver and one of the top high school basketball prospects in Wichita, scored a remarkable leaping touchdown over Valley Center’s Dakota Kieso on Thursday in Andover Central’s 27-17 win. It set a tone.
“I really wasn’t expecting it,” Bell said. “He was on me. He was on me good. Usually people try to jump under me and tip it out, but I just felt like I had a higher advantage this time. I caught it with a strong grip and just kept it.”
The grab gave Central a 14-10 lead midway through the second quarter, and Valley Center never had the same confidence in the game at Andover.
Just three minutes later, Central quarterback Shomari Parnell scampered outside the pocket to his right. He dodged a couple of defenders and was tackled into the end zone.
That made it 21-10 and marked the most points the Jaguar offense had scored since Nov. 3 in the first round of the 2017 playoffs.
“We got a lot of weapons,” Parnell said. “We got a lot of people that can make plays on their own and get in the end zone. People that can work with broken plays and make something out of nothing.”
Valley Center blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown before halftime, but that was it for the Hornets on the scoreboard.
The Jaguars are known for their defense. Having allowed just 41 points all season, they found themselves out of character with a 21-17 halftime lead. It was a lead but not one they were used to.
They didn’t allow another point after halftime, and Valley Center speedster Larry Wilson was kept in check after breaking several big plays in the first half.
“We have so much speed,” senior linebacker Sam Thomas said. “Everybody on our team has it, and if we’re not the fastest defense in the state, then we’re up there.”
Andover Central was coming off an emotional 17-16 overtime loss at Goddard in Week 3. The Jaguars’ defense caused the Lions fits all night, but they couldn’t pull it out.
Now with Thursday’s win, the Jaguars are 2-2 with a defense that pitched a second-half shutout and an offense that seems to have caught its rhythm.
Bell said the Goddard loss was the motivator.
“It really did leave something on our hearts after that game,” he said. “We knew we should have won. But we bounced back, and we’re going to come out the same next week, too.”