Varsity Football

Derby backup quarterback steps up on huge stage after starter goes down

Derby senior Hunter Igo was forced into quarterback duties after starter Grant Adler was injured in the Panthers’ 24-6 win at Bishop Carroll on Friday. (Sept. 21, 2018)
Derby senior Hunter Igo was forced into quarterback duties after starter Grant Adler was injured in the Panthers’ 24-6 win at Bishop Carroll on Friday. (Sept. 21, 2018) The Wichita Eagle

Hunter Igo busted out to his left, lowered his shoulder and laughed.

Bishop Carroll junior cornerback Dalton Nichols was on the receiving end of Igo’s blow and the target of the laugh. It showed, even with 4:26 to play, Igo wasn’t tired. Derby went on to win 24-6 over the reigning 5A state champions on the road Friday.

But Igo shouldn’t have been on the field.

On Derby’s third offensive play, junior starting quarterback Grant Adler took a hit and came up holding his left arm. Seconds later, the Panther coaches jumped onto the field and turned toward the sideline.

“Igo,” they yelled.

Igo is one of the Panthers’ starting safeties, so he thought he was late getting on the field for defense. Then he saw Adler coming off the field.

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“I said, ‘All right, this is what we practice for every once in a while, so why not bring it to a game?’ ” Igo said.

Adler was taken to the training table and was immediately put in a splint and sling. He was taken to the locker room and never came back to the sideline. The injury will be a long-term one.

But Igo had been in the exact spot before — last year, in fact.

In 2017 against Carroll, Adler suffered a broken collarbone. Igo had to come in and served as quarterback through the end of the regular season. He was instrumental in getting the Panthers into the Kansas Class 6A state championship game.

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On Igo’s second play on Friday, he dropped back unexpectedly and fired downfield for junior receiver Jacob Karsak. The ball hit Karsak in the hands, but he dropped it. That pass sent a message to the Carroll defense: Igo wasn’t there to just keep it together.

He was in to make plays, and he did.

Igo finished with 100 passing yards and a touchdown, to sophomore receiver Davin Simms, and 57 rushing yards and a score. He showed poise and leadership. And that’s Derby why coach Brandon Clark felt comfortable going with him.

“He does defense, special teams; he’s our field-goal holder,” Clark said. “He’s everything. There’s just so many good things I could say about him.”

Although Igo was taking multiple hits Friday, he stayed in on defense, too, and contributed to the Panthers’ second-half shutout, which resulted in the Golden Eagles finishing with a single-digit score for the first time in eight years.

Igo said he never considered taking the defensive snaps off.

“I’m going to do what’s best for the team,” he said. “Whatever needs to be done, I’m going to do it.”

Senior cornerback Dax Benway was in the secondary with Igo. The Panthers held Carroll senior quarterback Cade Becker to just 154 passing yards and a first-half touchdown to senior tight end Clay Cundiff.

Benway said Igo’s performance Friday was nothing short of outstanding.

“Hunter Igo, in my definition, he is a dog,” Benway said. “He has the biggest heart, and he is the best player on our team in my eyes. He does whatever the coaches say. He goes both ways, and in high school, that’s pretty damn hard.”

Igo disagreed and deflected praise from himself and onto the team’s performance. It’s unclear exactly how long Adler will be out and Igo will be in, but Clark said attributes like that are why Igo is a captain on a team poised to make another state championship run in 2018.

“He would do anything for the kids,” Clark said. “And I know they would do anything for him, too.”

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Derby senior Hunter Igo runs into the end zone in the Panthers’ 24-6 win at Bishop Carroll on Friday. (Sept. 21, 2018) Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

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