Amy Cunningham
The undefeated Trailblazer football team will take its show on the road this Friday evening when team members travel to Blue Valley High School in a high-stakes rematch that will reward the winner with a birth to the Kansas 5A State Championship.
The 5A Regional and Sectional Champion ‘Blazers, 11-0 on the season, faced off with BVHS just three short weeks ago at GEHS’ District Stadium, taking that contest by a score of 42-21. Blue Valley, 10-1, suffered its only loss of the season that evening, costing themselves a league title and their chance to swipe the KSHAA 5A District 4 crown.
GEHS coach Marvin Diener expects a tough match-up with the Tiger squad.
“They’re a very, very good team and they proved that in week nine,” he said. “They’re the best defensive team that we’ve played this year, and they’ll have their starting free safety back which will be a great help to them. I expect them to be very good on that side of the ball. They also throw the ball very well, so they stretch our defense.”
Likewise, the ‘Blazers have proven themselves on both sides of the field this season. The senior-driven offense has dominated its opponents, outscoring them by more than 400 points on the season. The ‘Blazer’s stingy defense has given up, on average, just 14.7 points per game.
Planning on a good Gardner-Edgerton fan turnout, Diener’s squad looks forward to traveling to Blue Valley. Because weather can ravage a football field, especially this late in the season, he said that the Blue Valley stadium, complete with a turf field, will be the perfect respite for his group.
“It’s a very nice stadium, they’ll have nice seating for our crowd. Our crowd travels well, and we’ve played well on the road this year,” he explained.
The ‘Blazers are focused on the Tigers, not looking ahead to the prize that may follow a victory.
“This is the toughest game there is, in regards to pressure. To fall one step short is awfully tough,” Diener said. “I’ve coached in 10 state championship games, and I’ve lost this game four times. Those have been the four toughest losses of my career. There will be no problems with focus this week. We’re just where we want to be, it’s a marathon that you sprint every Friday night. We’ve gotten better every week, and the boys have developed well.”