Special to The Gardner News
While Gardner Edgerton’s defense has played well this year, it has usually been in the shadow of the Blazers high powered offense.
But not in this week’s playoff win against Shawnee Heights.
Defensive coordinator Kris Henry’s unit had three quarterback sacks, forced four turnovers, and limited the T-Bird attack to just 72 yards rushing in a 32-0 triumph which advances Gardner Edgerton to the state semi-finals for the fourth straight year.
The Blazer offense,who had scored nearly every time they had the ball last week, was stymied early in this contest, going three and out on their first possession. After a short punt, Heights quickly moved the ball down the field and had a second and goal from the two yard line.
GE’s defense stopped the T-Birds behind the line of scrimmage on the next two plays, setting up a short field goal attempt- an attempt that sailed wide right.
The Blazer “D” would step again late in the first quarter when a Matt Plank interception set GE up on the Heights’ 14.
Two plays later Traevohn Wrench took it in from nine yards out to put the Blazers in front 6-0 early in the second period.
Plank-who played a terrific game from his middle linebacker spot-was instrumental in stopping the next T-Bird drive when he sacked the quarterback for a nine-yard loss on a second and 15 play.
After a Heights punt, GE got the ball back at their own 49 with 9:32 to play in the half. Mixing the run and the pass, the Blazers went on 15-play seven minute drive for a touchdown. Jared Hobby had three pass completions on the drive-one to Jamain Lang and two to Ryan Goetzmann. The scoring play on the drive came from the touchdown machine-Wrench-who took it in from 2 yards out. A two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score 12-0 with 2:10 left in the second quarter.
That was enough time for another GE score-courtesy of another huge turnover by the defense. Senior Brent Bovitz made the big play this time, recovering a fumble deep in enemy territory after a swarm of Blazers sacked the T-Bird QB. Three plays after the recovery, Hobby took it in from one yard out to give GE an 18-0 halftime lead.
The Blazers kept playing well on both sides of the ball in the second half, pitching the shutout defensively and getting two TDs to account for the 32-0 final.
GE had two second half pass interceptions-from senior Luis Avila and junior Riley Craig. Craig also had a quarterback sack in the fourth period, one of the eleven tackles for a loss that GE recorded on the night.
Marcus Williams had both Blazers touchdowns on passes from Hobbe who finished 13-22 for 121 yards. Lang, Goetzman, Tim Seymour, and Drake Sparks all caught Hobby aerials on the night.
Wrench finished the game with 156 tough rushing yards. Seymour added 17, Williams had 21 yards, and Hobby finished with seven.
Coach Marvin Diener was pleased with his team’s win against a very good foe.
“Heights came out and played us tough which we knew they would. Our defense kept us in the game early or we would have been trouble. It took us awhile to figure things out offensively but we were able to get some yards on the edge and threw the ball reasonably well.” said Diener.
The win puts the Blazers into the state semi-finals for the fourth consecutive year-and just like last year, GE will be traveling to Blue Valley to face the defending 5A champs.
Game time is 7 p.m. on Nov. 18. A trip to the state championship is on the line.
Trailblazers in state semis after big win over Shawnee Heights