Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton High School football team left nothing in doubt Friday night, piling up 358 yards in rushing and overpowering Olathe Northwest, 51-7, in the Blazers’ Homecoming night victory at the Gardner-Edgerton District Activities Center.
The Trailblazers scored touchdowns on 5 of their first 6 possessions and even scored on a Northwest offensive possession in the first half to help improve GEHS season record to 4-1.
“I thought we were consistent,” said Blazer head coach Ryan Cornelsen after the game. “I thought we played hard, like we normally do. I just wanted to make that we stayed within the system and we didn’t start trying to make homeruns. I think the kids knew right away we could move the ball pretty quickly. I thought they did a good job of keeping their composure and staying within the system and just doing what we do.”
What the Trailblazers did was score points in bunches. Thanks in part to a combined quarterback sack of Northwest senior quarterback Mason Sadler by GEHS sophomore defensive back Jake McClure and senior linebacker Anthony Rodriguez, the Blazers forced the Ravens to turn the ball over on downs on their first possession. Two plays later, a 38-yard run by senior tailback Jacob Renaud took the ball down to the ONW 27-yard line. Two plays after that, Trailblazer senior quarterback Teven McKelvey took a read-option carry around the left side of his offensive line, then cut back right all the way across the field to sprint 23 yards for the Blazers’ opening TD. With junior kicker Caleb Calvin notching the extra point, GEHS had a 7-0 lead with 7:31 left in the 1st quarter,
The Trailblazers scored less than two minutes later when, on the first play of the next Gardner-Edgerton possession, Renaud took a crossbuck carry left to right from the 50-yard line and combined sprinter speed with a spin move and a clever hesitation step to go all the way in for the game’s second score. The Calvin PAT made the score 14-0 with 5:36 remaining in the 1st quarter.
The Blazer special teams then made their presence felt. On 4th-and-12 from their own 34, the Ravens attempted a rugby style punt. However, GEHS junior linebacker Davonte Pritchard burst through the Northwest line, blocked the punt, and recovered it on the ONW 21. Three plays later, Trailblazer senior tailback TayeZhan Crough took in a crossbuck carry from right to left from 10 yards out, and the home squad held a 21-0 lead with 2:45 left in quarter.
With 1:30 left in the first frame, Ravens’ fumble on a pitch play was recovered by Gardner-Edgerton junior defensive back Ethan Reynolds at the Northwest 44. That set up the Blazers on their next scoring drive, which would take them into the 2nd quarter. At 58 seconds into the second period, McKelvey went over for his 2nd score of the night — a 27-yard read-option tote to the left, giving the Blazers a 28-0 advantage.
Even when the Blazers turned the ball over, they ended up using it to their advantage. After Northwest had intercepted a GEHS pass and took over on their own 36, the Trailblazers scored two plays later when Reynolds picked off a Sadler pass and returned it 40 yards to paydirt and a 35-0 Blazer lead.
The Trailblazers capped off the 1st half scoring when senior fullback Jacob Butash bulled into the end zone from 3 yards out to cap off a 6-play, 37-yard drive with 53.6 seconds remaining before halftime. Though the PAT was missed, Gardner-Edgerton still held a 41-0 advantage at the break.
The Blazers opened the scoring in the 2nd half as well. The Trailblazers engaged on an 81-yard, 6-play drive with the big play coming on a 70-yard carry by sophomore tailback Tyler Butash. Though the Blazers couldn’t put the ball in the end zone, the drive was punctuated when McClure nailed a 28-yard field goal to make the score 44-0 with 8:30 left in the 3rd quarter.
GEHS earned their final score of the game late in the same period. Sophomore defensive end Will Shuler corralled a Raven fumble and returned it 17 yards to the Northwest 3-yard line. Three plays later, senior fullback Trenton Bryan barrelled in from the 1-yard line, and the Calvin extra point made the score 51-0 as the 3rd quarter ended.
The Ravens opened the 4th quarter with their only score of the game — an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior defensive back Grant Hall. That made the score 51-7. However, due to Kansas State High School Activities Association scoring margin rules, the rest of the game was played with a running clock, and the Blazers closed the night with a 44-point win.
Offensively, Renaud led all rushers with 4 carries for 107 yards (26.8 yards/carry) and a touchdown. Tyler Butash followed with 90 yards on 7 carries (12.9 yds./carry), McKelvey with 53 yards and 2 TDs on 3 carries (17.7 yds./carry), Crough with 5 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown, Bryan with 8 carries for 31 yards and 1 TD, Jacob Butash with 26 yards and a touchdown on 7 carries, and sophomore tailback Garrett Bergmann with 11 yards on 4 carries.
Defensively, Reynolds paced the Trailblazers with an interception return for a touchdown, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup, and ½ tackle-for-loss. Junior linebacker Adam Callahan racked up 2 ½ tackles-for-loss, Rodriguez had 1 ½ sacks, and Pritchard recorded 1 tackle-for-loss, and a punt block and recovery.
The Blazers will next travel to Shawnee Mission North to take on the Indians.