Pete Logan
Girls basketball Assistant Coach
Overcoming a pair of opening-minute miscues, the Gardner-Edgerton High School football team racked up 41 points in the first half and collected a convincing 48-27 over the Owls of Olathe West Friday night in the home opener for the Trailblazers.
After spotting West a 7-0 lead on the game’s first play from scrimmage, a 71-yard touchdown pass to Connor Delong from Owls’ quarterback Zac Krause, things seemed to go from bad to worse. The ensuing West kickoff was muffed by the Blazers, giving the Owls the ball right back on the GEHS 22. However, the Trailblazers made a stout defensive stand, forcing the ball over on downs and giving the home team its first offensive possession.
Gardner-Edgerton wasted little time after that. With 8:53 left in the first quarter, Trailblazer senior tailback Baylor Maxwell burst free with a carry down the right side of the field and went 58 yards for the first GEHS score of the game. Blazer sophomore Caleb Calvin converted the PAT attempt to tie the game at 7-7.
Less than three minutes later, Maxwell struck again down the same sideline, racing 38 yards for the score. Maxwell’s second TD and Calvin’s second conversion gave the home side its first lead at 14-7 with 5:42 left in the first frame.
After the Blazers forced the Owls to give up the ball on their third straight possession, it was GEHS junior quarterback Teven McKelvey’s turn to add to the score. McKelvey also took the ball down the right side of the field, sprinting 41 yards on a read-option keeper to give the Trailblazers a 20-7 lead with 3:05 still remaining in the first quarter.
Exactly one minute later, it was the time for the Blazers’ special teams to get in on the scoring. Pinned backed on their own 4-yard line on 4th-and-long, the Owls were forced to punt. On the 4th down snap, GEHS senior defensive back Taven Ewbank burst through the Olathe West blockers, leaping up to block the punt and then pouncing upon the loose ball for the fourth Blazer touchdown. With Calvin’s extra point, Gardner-Edgerton commanded a 27-7 lead going into the second quarter. The touchdown was Ewbank’s second in two weeks as the defensive back took home a 27-yard interception return last week in the Blazers’ 28-23 win over Shawnee Mission East.
Olathe West opened the scoring in the 2nd quarter when Krause found his way into the end zone from three yards out to make the score 34-14, but the Blazers answered back less than a minute later, when senior fullback Jacob Hunsperger broke free up the middle for a 51-yard TD run that propped the Blazers’ lead back to 20 at 34-14 with 9:59 left in the half.
The Trailblazers capped off their first half scoring at 5:56 remaining when McKelvey went over for his second score of the night, a 19-yard dash up the right side. The Calvin PAT gave GEHS a 27-point cushion going into the half at 41-14.
Neither team could get on track to open the second half. However, after a 4th-and goal pass by the Owls was intercepted at the 4-yard line by Trailblazer junior defensive back Dayvin Johnson, GEHS first-year head coach Ryan Cornelsen showed off the grind-it-out capabilities of his offense.
Taking over possession in the third quarter, the Trailblazers undertook a 14-play, 96-yard scoring drive that ended with 7:16 left to play in the game when McKelvey earned his third score of the night on a 3-yard QB keeper to make the score 48-20 Blazers.
West scored two consecutive touchdowns in the last 7 minutes to make the final tally 48-27, but — at the end of the night — the Trailblazers had their second straight win and an undefeated start to the season.
After the game, Cornelsen reflected on his first home win as GEHS head coach.
“It’s exciting,” said Cornelsen as his players celebrated with the GEHS student section. “It’s exciting to get to play in front of your home crowd. It’s a new experience for me. It’s a new experience for the fans as far as our new system. It’s new for the kids in the system. It’s exciting anytime you can get a home win, but being the first one that we’ve played here as I’ve been the head coach and finding a way to win is really exciting.”
The 2-0 Trailblazers will next take on the Chesty Lions of Lawrence High School Friday night, September 14th at 7:00 P.M. in Lawrence.