In about six minutes, Maize South forced four turnovers and killed off any chance of a loss on senior night, but cornerback Trevion Mitchell put it another way.
“They’re hungry,” Mitchell said. “It’s that cutthroat mentality we keep talking about here. Everyone is hungry to make plays.”
Maize South improved to 6-0 for the first time in school history thanks to a 10-0 win over Eisenhower, a victory that all but clinched the AVCTL II title. Mitchell and the Mavericks’ defense finished with six takeaways, pushing their total over the past two weeks to 11.
Even better: Their opponents entered those two games with one combined loss.
In Week 5, Andover Central went across town for a meeting of undefeated teams. The Mavericks won 24-17 behind five takeaways and two defensive touchdowns.
A week later, Eisenhower rolled off the bus 4-1 and suffered a similar fate.
Eisenhower got into the red zone twice all night. The first trip came in the first quarter. Eisenhower went for it on fourth down, but an out route to the left sideline failed.
The second came with about 3:30 left in the third quarter. Junior linebacker Brandon Bowles jumped a slant route and secured his second takeaway after coming up with a fumble recovery earlier.
Two drives later, senior Tysaac Noland got in on the action. After Eisenhower starting quarterback Colin Mackey suffered a leg injury, senior Chance Omli took over. He rolled to his right, directing his receiver to run downfield.
Noland said he saw it and anticipated the route. He caught the interception and dragged his toes before hitting the sideline. For good measure, he caught another pick on the following drive, jumping over senior Eisenhower receiver Jordan Vincent.
“It’s the scout team,” Noland said. “We’ve got some dudes on the scout team. They grind it out. They watch their film over the weekend and come out and give us all they got.”
Maize South is the No. 3 seed in Class 5A West behind Wichita Northwest and crosstown rival Maize. The Mavericks have allowed more than 20 points only once, coming in Week 1 to Wichita Heights.
So where did this start come from?
It began last season, coach Brent Pfeifer said. With one of the school’s smallest senior classes in history in 2018, the Mavericks started 0-3 with losses to Wichita Heights, Andover and Valley Center. They were written off.
In Week 4, the Mavs turned it around to beat Arkansas City. That sparked a six-game win streak that extended through the first round of the postseason.
As of Friday night, Maize South has won 12 of its past 13 games.
“Those seniors last year put their nose down and worked their butts off,” Pfeifer said. “They went in with the mindset of, ‘Just get better every day,’ and not worry about the record. I think that leadership from last year has jump-started this group here.”
Maize South has 31 seniors on the roster this year. After surviving as one of the Wichita area’s youngest teams, it is now one of the most experienced.
2016 stands as the most successful season in Maize South history. The Mavericks reached the state semifinals in Class 4A-Division I before falling to Buhler. A year earlier featured Maize South’s most recent regional title in Class 5A.
Noland said he expected a 6-0 start and more heading into this season.
“I’ve been playing with these dudes since third grade,” Noland said. “I’ve been waiting on this moment. I would have told you, ‘We are going to win a state championship.’ That’s our mindset right now. Every game go 1-0 until we get to state.
“And then we’ll win it.”