On a night when the wind chill dripped into the low-teens, Kansas high school football had arguably its most entertaining night.
From offensive showcases to last-second finishes, here are 10 takeaways from the sectional round of the 2018 playoffs:
1. 151 points
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Not even 8-man can boast what they did.
Wichita Northwest and Bishop Carroll combined for 151 points Friday in the Grizzlies’ 84-67 win over the defending Class 5A champion Golden Eagles. It was the most points scored in a state quarterfinal or later in any Kansas classification at least within the past half decade.
Friday’s shootout set multiple records and had loads of standouts, including Northwest All-American running back Breece Hall, who finished with six touchdowns but lost count after four. Carroll sophomore quarterback Aiden Niedens was outstanding, too, throwing for seven touchdowns in a loss.
The Bishop Carroll basketball team has allowed 84 points once in the past 15 years, and that game went into quadruple overtime. After the game, Northwest coach Steve Martin and Carroll coach Dusty Trail couldn’t help but laugh.
“When we get rolling with our tempo, you have to line up and get smacked,” Martin said. “And then line up as fast as you can and get smacked again.”
2. On the Grill
After giving up a fumble to start the second half, Maize quarterback Caleb Grill made up for it quickly.
The fumble put the Eagles down a score but fewer than 10 minutes later, Grill hit junior receiver KJ Hampton for his second score of the night after an 80-yard touchdown to open the game.
And about 10 minutes after that, Grill gave the Eagles a 28-21 they wouldn’t give up with a 1-yard touchdown run. That gave the Maize defense the stage, and it didn’t disappoint.
Pitching a fourth quarter shutout, the Eagles were backed up inside their own 10-yard line, but Great Bend’s potent offense couldn’t break through.
With the win, the No. 2 Eagles will travel to No. 1 Northwest for an all-Wichita semifinal in Class 5A on Friday.
3. ‘Punched in the mouth’
For the first time in 2018, Derby trail after 12 minutes.
Derby coach Brandon Clark said his Panthers got “punched in the mouth” to open their Class 6A quarterfinal after going down 7-0 to open the game. But the Panthers responded exactly as Clark hoped going on a 38-point run to win 38-7 and advance to play Manhattan in the state semifinals.
“We’ve got some great senior leadership,” Clark said. “To be in a position we’ve never been in and to see no change in the kids. We tell the kids all the time, ‘You don’t play for the scoreboard. You play each down.’ If you start looking at the scoreboard, you start doing things you’re not used to doing.”
Topeka had a chance to go up 10-0 on a field goal attempt, but senior safety Migc Aiyanyor blocked the kick and helped give the Panthers life on both sides of the ball.
Senior quarterback Hunter Igo accounted for three touchdowns. Junior running back Tre Washington added a couple, including one on a one-handed catch. And senior cornerback Dax Benway put the game on ice with a pair of interceptions to keep the Topeka offense off the field.
4. End of an era at Free State
Derby and Lawrence Free State have met in each of the past three Kansas state playoffs, but that streak ends in 2018 and it isn’t the only thing ending.
The Panthers will play Manhattan for the right to go to the Class 6A title game after Free State was upset at home 41-19 in the state quarterfinals. After the loss, Free State coach Bob Lisher told the Lawrence Journal-World he plans to retire.
Lisher told the Journal-World he knew this would be his final season at Free State.
“I’ve been doing it for 37 years,” Lisher told the Journal-World. “It is time for somebody else to step in. It is time for me to play with my grandkids and get my surgeries and get my body fixed.”
Manhattan’s win means the Indians are still alive for their first state championship since 1988. But they will have to beat Derby, a team that has reached the 6A title game each of the past three years.
After shutting down Topeka’s Ky Thomas, Derby will have to do it again against Manhattan standout Kaveontae McDonald, who scored six times Friday.
5. ‘I don’t think we could have played much better’
Some pegged Andale and Scott City as the two most talented teams in a loaded Class 3A, and if that was true, the Indians proved to be in a league their own.
Andale beat Scott City 35-19 in the state quarterfinals, a matchup of two undefeated teams. Coach Dylan Schmidt said his defense was phenomenal, forcing four turnovers.
“I don’t think we could have played much better,” Schmidt said. “I think our defense gave up 120 or 130 yards for the game. ... I just felt like everything went our way.”
The Indians’ offense owned possession over the Beavers. They ran 91 plays and kept the ball away from one of the more dynamic offenses in 3A. Andale never trailed.
The road gets no easier for the Indians. They will go on the road against another undefeated team, Pratt, for a chance to reach a state championship game for the second straight year.
The Greenbacks are coming off a 46-0 demolition of Smoky Valley, one of six undefeated 3A teams coming into Friday’s quarterfinals.
6. ‘Tears in his eyes’
For the second straight year, Goddard used its backup quarterback to get a state quarterfinal win.
Last year, Blake Sullivan, one of the state’s bests was forced out with an injury. That opened the door for then-freshman Kyler Semrad, who has taken over the starting job for Goddard in 2018.
Friday the Lions pulled out a 28-14 comeback road win over Wellington, and it was because of Jared Mocaby.
Coach Tom Beason went with Mocaby to start the second half after Wellington’s defense pinched down on the Lions’ passing attack. Beason said Semrad wasn’t playing poorly; Mocaby’s running ability was just perfect for what the Crusaders showed.
It worked as Mocaby led the Lions on three straight scoring drives and capped the win with a 57-yard touchdown pass to running back Ben Bannister.
“Jared at the end of the night had tears in his eyes because he had just helped us win a 14-0 comeback victory in the state quarterfinals,” Beason said. “It was awesome. It was an awesome experience for that kid.”
As predicted, the Goddard defense was relentless, particularly in the second half. Class 4A sack-leader Zeke Howell finished with 6.5 sacks, which set the single game school record and helped him break the single season record, too.
Beason used names like, “creature” and “freakazoid” to describe the way Howell played Friday.
7. ‘Glad we were down’
McPherson hit a first Friday.
In a season headlined in records and wins over inferior opponents, the Bullpups trailed for the first time all season against Arkansas City. The Bulldogs scored on their opening possesion, but McPherson coach Jace Pavlovich said that didn’t faze his group a bit as they went on to earn a 62-28 win.
“We scored right away after two plays and just never really looked back,” Pavlovich said. “It was great to see us down. It was great to see how our sideline reacted. There was no panic. There was no worry. There was no negativity.”
Pavlovich has led the Pups to their most successful season in school history. McPherson has played high school football since 1920 and has never won 11 games, had an undefeated regular season or won a state championship. They have now done two of those three.
With the win, No. 1 McPherson will host No. 2 Goddard in the Class 4A West championship. The winner will face either Bishop Miege or Basehor-Linwood for the state title.
8. Title game feel
On the coldest night of the season, Conway Springs and Phillipsburg provided one of the hottest games.
The pair of Class 2A undefeated teams fought to a 25-24 result with Conway Springs suffering its first loss since the 2017 regional championship.
Some believed the Cardinals and Panthers were the top two teams in 2A. They were two of four undefeated teams left, but after Friday, Phillipsburg and Humboldt are the only two.
Conway Springs threw its dynamic rushing attack at the Panthers with Peyton Winter, Collin Koester and Zach Mercer, but it wasn’t enough. Phillipsburg’s defense pitched a fourth quarter shutout and scored midway through the fourth, which proved to be the difference.
With the win, Phillipsburg will go on to host Hoisington, who knocked off Hutchinson-Trinity 30-0, in the state semifinals.
9. Killing a Cardinal
Sedgwick’s run and eye-popping offense has been put in park.
The Cardinals lost 61-27 at home to Smith Center, one of the favorites to win the Class 1A title. The Redmen pulled away late after leading by just 13 in the second quarter.
Although Sedgwick’s run is over, the Cardinals put up outstanding stats in 2018.
Senior quarterback Hooper Schroeder finished the season as one of the top passers in Kansas with 2,378 yards. He became one of five players in Kansas high school football history to throw for more than 7,000 yards in a career.
He finished with over 8,500 total yards and 103 touchdowns.
10. A real hoot
In Olathe West’s first season of varsity football, the Owls are one of four teams left in Kansas’ second-highest classification.
Olathe West beat De Soto 24-7 on Friday. The No. 11 Owls (5-6) are the lowest-seeded team still alive in all of Kansas high school football.
With the win, the Owls will have to play one of the favorites to win the 5A title, undefeated St. Thomas Aquinas, who hasn’t lost since last year’s championship game.