Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton High School football team’s 2019 season came to a heartbreaking end Friday night, as seven turnovers by the Trailblazers proved insurmountable. GEHS fell to Blue Valley North, 42-41, in a Kansas 6A Regional Championship game at Gardner-Edgerton District Activity Center.
Leading 28-14 at half and receiving the third quarter kickoff, the Blazers fumbled and lost possession of their first four possessions of the second half — all of which led to North touchdowns. A determined fourth quarter comeback came up just one point short when the horn sounded. It was the second year in a row that the Trailblazers had been eliminated in the playoffs by the Mustangs.
It was clear from the outset that the Mustangs would be a formidable opponent for GEHS. On the first possession of the game, Blue Valley North drove 52 yards in five plays for the game’s first touchdown. North went up 7-0 when sophomore quarterback Henry Martin connected with junior wide receiver Theo Grabill for a 27-yard TD pass with 9:51 left in the first quarter.
It looked as if BVN was ready to add to that score after their pooch kickoff following the first touchdown was mishandled by the Trailblazers and recovered by the Mustangs at the GEHS 38-yard line. However, Gardner-Edgerton junior linebacker/tailback Davonte Pritchard sacked Martin twice in a row and helped the Blazers force North to punt on fourth-and-21.
The Blazers took over on their own 32 with their first possession and responded by marching 68 yards on eight plays for their first score. The drive paid off in a one-yard touchdown blast by senior fullback Jacob Butash with 5:12 left in the first quarter.
The Blazer point after touchdown kick was blocked, and the visitors clung to a 7-6 lead. The Mustangs then engaged in a time consuming 14-play, 80-yard drive that took the game into the second quarter.
The end of the drive saw Martin connect with Grabill for a second touchdown connection — this time a four-yard score.
When junior kicker Will Orchard kicked the point after touchdown, North led 14-6 with 11:16 left in the first half. The Trailblazers answered in just their second play of the next possession.
A 32-yard kickoff return by GEHS sophomore defensive back Jake McClure set the Blazers up nicely at their own 47. Then, on second-and-seven from the 50-yard line, senior quarterback Teven McKelvey took a read option carry around the right end of the Blazer line and sprinted 50 yards to the end zone.
McKelvey then executed almost the exact same play for the ensuing two-point conversion, and the score was tied at 14-14 with 10:27 remaining in the half. Gardner-Edgerton got the ball back a little more than four minutes later in the contest at their own 22 after pass breakups by junior defensive back Drew Cassida and senior defensive back Austin Oldham forced the Mustangs to turn the ball over on downs.
From there, the Blazers went 78 yards in six plays, capped off by a 56-yard touchdown run on a counter handoff to senior tailback TayeZhan Crough. With a McClure extra point, the Trailblazers took a 21-14 lead with 2:54 left to play in the second quarter.
The GEHS defense then forced a three-and-out from the North offense and took over on their own 20 after a Mustangs’ punt. With no timeouts left, it appeared as if the Trailblazers were content to run the clock out with power runs up the middle.
When Pritchard took his second consecutive carry over the right side of the Blazer line, he took a crowd of North tacklers with him, then broke out of the crowd and outraced everyone 67 yards to the end zone. The McClure extra point put the Blazers up 28-14 at halftime.
For the Trailblazers, things began to fall apart in the third quarter. After receiving the second half kickoff, Gardner-Edgerton fumbled on their first offensive play of the quarter and North pounced on it at the GEHS 16. Two plays later, it was Martin to Grabill again — this time on a 16-yard scoring pass.
The Mustangs had pulled to within seven at 28-21 just 47 seconds into the second half. The Blazers then fumbled away possession on the third play of their next drive, setting up the Mustangs at the GEHS 11.
On the second play of the next possession, Gardner-Edgerton pressure forced Martin to scramble, and — just as it appeared he would be pulled down to the ground — Martin got off a shotput-style pass to senior tailback Catare Allen on the left sideline and he went in 11 yards for the score.
With the PAT from Orchard, the score was tied 28-28 with 8:38 still to play in the third quarter. The turnovers did not stop there.
The Blazers fumbled on the fifth play of the next possession, and North took over on the GEHS 48. Five plays later, Catare scored on a 1-yard touchdown dive. The North See BLAZERS, page 5
From BLAZERS, page 4
PAT attempt was blocked by GEHS senior defensive back Dayvin Johnson.
North had retaken the lead, 34-28, with 4:14 remaining in the third. Gardner-Edgerton then fumbled on their fourth consecutive possession of the second half, giving the Mustangs the ball at the Blazer 37. An eight-play North drive took the game into the fourth quarter.
Allen punctuated the drive with another 1yard TD plunge. Martin then connected with senior wide receiver Shawn Hendershot for the two-point conversion, and North led by 14 at 42-28 with 11:12 left in the game.
The Trailblazers were not out of the fight. On the third play of the next Gardner-Edgerton possession, McKelvey took a read option carry to the right, found a seam, and burst 67 yards for a lightning quick score. The Blazers had pulled to within seven at 42-35 with 9:40 remaining.
GEHS would then get the ball back deep in North territory. On a fourth-and-one from the Mustang 29, Martin was sacked by Cassida and GEHS senior defensive lineman Parker Cortner at the 26.
The Blazers took over from there, but — three plays later — the seventh Trailblazer fumble of the game was covered by the Mustangs, and the scoring threat was extinguished. The Mustangs hoped to run out the clock with their next possession and moved the ball into Trailblazer territory.
With 2:10 remaining in the game, GEHS junior defensive back Ethan Reynolds intercepted a Martin pass, and the Blazers took over on their own 19. Gardner-Edgerton moved the ball quickly, including three pass completions of at least 15 yards, and found themselves at the North five-yard line with less than 40 seconds to play.
On the tenth play of the drive, Crough took a jet sweep left carry into the end zone from five yards out, making the score 42-41 Mustangs with 0:32.3 left in the game. The Blazers decided to go for the victory and attempt a two-point conversion.
On the conversion, McKelvey took the ball forward on a read option carry, but was ruled short of the goal line. The Trailblazers attempted to get the ball back on an onside kick with the ensuing kickoff, but North covered the ball at their own 44 and ran out the clock with their next offensive snap.
Offensively, the Trailblazers were led by McKelvey who rushed for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries (11.2 yards per carry) and was two-for-three passing for 44 yards. Pritchard rushed for 85 yards and 1 TD on 5 carries (17.0 yards per carry), while Crough rushed for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns on 6 carries (13.3 yards per carry) and caught two passes for 44 yards. Butash added 44 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
In all, the Blazers rushed for 410 yards. Defensively, Pritchard led the Blazers with 2 sacks and 3 ½ tackles for loss. Cassida added two pass breakups, ½ sack, and ½ tackle-for-loss, Reynolds had a pass breakup and an interception, senior linebacker Anthony Rodriguez and junior linebacker Adam Callahan recorded one sack and 1 ½ tackles-for-loss, and Cortner notched ½ sack and one tackle-for-loss. The Trailblazers finish the season with an 8-2 record. Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton High School football team’s 2019 season came to a heartbreaking end Friday night, as seven turnovers by the Trailblazers proved insurmountable. GEHS fell to Blue Valley North, 42-41, in a Kansas 6A Regional Championship game at Gardner-Edgerton District Activity Center.
Leading 28-14 at half and receiving the third quarter kickoff, the Blazers fumbled and lost possession of their first four possessions of the second half — all of which led to North touchdowns. A determined fourth quarter comeback came up just one point short when the horn sounded. It was the second year in a row that the Trailblazers had been eliminated in the playoffs by the Mustangs.
It was clear from the outset that the Mustangs would be a formidable opponent for GEHS. On the first possession of the game, Blue Valley North drove 52 yards in five plays for the game’s first touchdown. North went up 7-0 when sophomore quarterback Henry Martin connected with junior wide receiver Theo Grabill for a 27-yard TD pass with 9:51 left in the first quarter.
It looked as if BVN was ready to add to that score after their pooch kickoff following the first touchdown was mishandled by the Trailblazers and recovered by the Mustangs at the GEHS 38-yard line. However, Gardner-Edgerton junior linebacker/tailback Davonte Pritchard sacked Martin twice in a row and helped the Blazers force North to punt on fourth-and-21.
The Blazers took over on their own 32 with their first possession and responded by marching 68 yards on eight plays for their first score. The drive paid off in a one-yard touchdown blast by senior fullback Jacob Butash with 5:12 left in the first quarter.
The Blazer point after touchdown kick was blocked, and the visitors clung to a 7-6 lead. The Mustangs then engaged in a time consuming 14-play, 80-yard drive that took the game into the second quarter.
The end of the drive saw Martin connect with Grabill for a second touchdown connection — this time a four-yard score.
When junior kicker Will Orchard kicked the point after touchdown, North led 14-6 with 11:16 left in the first half. The Trailblazers answered in just their second play of the next possession.
A 32-yard kickoff return by GEHS sophomore defensive back Jake McClure set the Blazers up nicely at their own 47. Then, on second-and-seven from the 50-yard line, senior quarterback Teven McKelvey took a read option carry around the right end of the Blazer line and sprinted 50 yards to the end zone.
McKelvey then executed almost the exact same play for the ensuing two-point conversion, and the score was tied at 14-14 with 10:27 remaining in the half. Gardner-Edgerton got the ball back a little more than four minutes later in the contest at their own 22 after pass breakups by junior defensive back Drew Cassida and senior defensive back Austin Oldham forced the Mustangs to turn the ball over on downs.
From there, the Blazers went 78 yards in six plays, capped off by a 56-yard touchdown run on a counter handoff to senior tailback TayeZhan Crough. With a McClure extra point, the Trailblazers took a 21-14 lead with 2:54 left to play in the second quarter.
The GEHS defense then forced a three-and-out from the North offense and took over on their own 20 after a Mustangs’ punt. With no timeouts left, it appeared as if the Trailblazers were content to run the clock out with power runs up the middle.
When Pritchard took his second consecutive carry over the right side of the Blazer line, he took a crowd of North tacklers with him, then broke out of the crowd and outraced everyone 67 yards to the end zone. The McClure extra point put the Blazers up 28-14 at halftime.
For the Trailblazers, things began to fall apart in the third quarter. After receiving the second half kickoff, Gardner-Edgerton fumbled on their first offensive play of the quarter and North pounced on it at the GEHS 16. Two plays later, it was Martin to Grabill again — this time on a 16-yard scoring pass.
The Mustangs had pulled to within seven at 28-21 just 47 seconds into the second half. The Blazers then fumbled away possession on the third play of their next drive, setting up the Mustangs at the GEHS 11.
On the second play of the next possession, Gardner-Edgerton pressure forced Martin to scramble, and — just as it appeared he would be pulled down to the ground — Martin got off a shotput-style pass to senior tailback Catare Allen on the left sideline and he went in 11 yards for the score.
With the PAT from Orchard, the score was tied 28-28 with 8:38 still to play in the third quarter. The turnovers did not stop there.
The Blazers fumbled on the fifth play of the next possession, and North took over on the GEHS 48. Five plays later, Catare scored on a 1-yard touchdown dive. The North PAT attempt was blocked by GEHS senior defensive back Dayvin Johnson.
North had retaken the lead, 34-28, with 4:14 remaining in the third. Gardner-Edgerton then fumbled on their fourth consecutive possession of the second half, giving the Mustangs the ball at the Blazer 37. An eight-play North drive took the game into the fourth quarter.
Allen punctuated the drive with another 1yard TD plunge. Martin then connected with senior wide receiver Shawn Hendershot for the two-point conversion, and North led by 14 at 42-28 with 11:12 left in the game.
The Trailblazers were not out of the fight. On the third play of the next Gardner-Edgerton possession, McKelvey took a read option carry to the right, found a seam, and burst 67 yards for a lightning quick score. The Blazers had pulled to within seven at 42-35 with 9:40 remaining.
GEHS would then get the ball back deep in North territory. On a fourth-and-one from the Mustang 29, Martin was sacked by Cassida and GEHS senior defensive lineman Parker Cortner at the 26.
The Blazers took over from there, but — three plays later — the seventh Trailblazer fumble of the game was covered by the Mustangs, and the scoring threat was extinguished. The Mustangs hoped to run out the clock with their next possession and moved the ball into Trailblazer territory.
With 2:10 remaining in the game, GEHS junior defensive back Ethan Reynolds intercepted a Martin pass, and the Blazers took over on their own 19. Gardner-Edgerton moved the ball quickly, including three pass completions of at least 15 yards, and found themselves at the North five-yard line with less than 40 seconds to play.
On the tenth play of the drive, Crough took a jet sweep left carry into the end zone from five yards out, making the score 42-41 Mustangs with 0:32.3 left in the game. The Blazers decided to go for the victory and attempt a two-point conversion.
On the conversion, McKelvey took the ball forward on a read option carry, but was ruled short of the goal line. The Trailblazers attempted to get the ball back on an onside kick with the ensuing kickoff, but North covered the ball at their own 44 and ran out the clock with their next offensive snap.
Offensively, the Trailblazers were led by McKelvey who rushed for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries (11.2 yards per carry) and was two-for-three passing for 44 yards. Pritchard rushed for 85 yards and 1 TD on 5 carries (17.0 yards per carry), while Crough rushed for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns on 6 carries (13.3 yards per carry) and caught two passes for 44 yards. Butash added 44 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
In all, the Blazers rushed for 410 yards. Defensively, Pritchard led the Blazers with 2 sacks and 3 ½ tackles for loss. Cassida added two pass breakups, ½ sack, and ½ tackle-for-loss, Reynolds had a pass breakup and an interception, senior linebacker Anthony Rodriguez and junior linebacker Adam Callahan recorded one sack and 1 ½ tackles-for-loss, and Cortner notched ½ sack and one tackle-for-loss. The Trailblazers finish the season with an 8-2 record.