Pete Logan
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner-Edgerton High School football team dominated both sides of the ball Friday night, dominating visiting Shawnee Mission North 50-0 on the Trailblazers’ Homecoming night at Gardner-Edgerton District Activities Center.
The Blazers piled up over 350 yards of total offense and recorded 5 sacks and two turnovers — including an interception return for a touchdown — on defense on their way to the shutout win.
‘It was much cleaner as far as execution,” said Ryan Cornelsen, GEHS head coach, when asked about his team’s effort after the game. “We’re trying to figure out what we are, what we’re capable of doing, and tonight was a little bit better in handling two different styles and still understanding what we’re doing with both. Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go yet, but to come out after you got embarrassed last week and to get after them right away, to play hard early, and to finish them off was a great feeling.”
Gardner-Edgerton set a dominant tone early. On the game’s opening kickoff, Trailblazer senior wide receiver/defensive back Jake McClure tallied a 34-yard return to put the home team in excellent field position with a 1st-and-10 at their own 41. Two plays later, Blazer junior tailback Tyler Butash took a crossbuck carry from right to left and down the sideline 54 yards for the opening touchdown. After McClure kicked the extra point, GEHS held a 7-0 lead with 10:32 remaining in the 1st quarter.
The visiting Indians saw their opening possession also result in a touchdown — a touchdown for the defense. On a 3rd-and-4 from the Indians’ 44, North junior quarterback Isaiah Beck’s pass was deflected by Trailblazer senior defensive end Hayden Dyer. The deflection ended up in GEHS senior linebacker Davonte Pritchard’s hands, and he raced 44 yards untouched into the end zone for the Blazers’ second TD of the night. McClure added his second PAT, putting the home team up 14-0 just over a minute after their first score.
North fared no better on their 2nd offensive possession of the night. On the Indians’ next play from scrimmage, Beck was sacked by Gardner-Edgerton sophomore linebacker Dawson Williams for a 3-yard loss. On the very next play, McClure sacked and stripped Beck, and GEHS senior middle linebacker Gus Davis pounced on the ball at the North 20.
The Blazers then marched 20 yards in 4 plays, the biggest being a 15-yard completion from freshman quarterback Asher Weiner to McClure that gave GEHS a 1st-and-goal from the North 1-yard line. On the next play, Pritchard — now playing tailback for the Traiblazers — powered into the endzone on a counter handoff to push the lead to 21-0 just over 4 minutes into the contest
The Indians failed to score on their next two possessions, and when a Beck pass flew incomplete from the Blazer 33-yard line, the home team took over. Gardner-Edgerton marched the ball 67 yards in 6 plays, going into the start of the 2nd quarter. The drive was punctuated when Butash took a counter handoff to the right and dashed 22 yards to the end zone and a 28-0 home lead with 9:55 left in the half.
North turned the ball over on downs on their next possession as well, giving the Blazers the ball at their own 36 with 5:35 left in the 2nd quarter. On the very next play, Asher Weiner rolled out to his right, then threw back across to the left side of the field and connected with his brother, senior tight end Austin Weiner, for a 31-yard completion to the Indians’ 33. Five plays later, GEHS junior fullback Carter Dewey blasted into the end zone from the left side from 4 yards out, giving Gardner-Edgerton a 35-0 lead they would take into halftime.
The Blazers had the second possession of the second half, after forcing a North punt on the Indians’ first possession. Taking over on their own 23, the Trailblazers marched methodically down the field in 9 plays. On the final play of the drive, Dewey again powered into the end zone — this time from 5 yards out — and the Blazer lead was 42-0 with 4:44 left in the quarter.
Due to the large Blazer lead, the rest of the game was played with a running clock, but that didn’t keep GEHS from scoring one more time.
On Gardner-Edgerton’s first possession of the 4th quarter, the Trailblazers took over on their own 40. On the 2nd play of the possession, junior tailback Lucas Anderson took a crossbuck carry and dashed 53 yards to the Indians’ 3-yard line. On the next play, junior tailback Garret Bergman took a crossbuck carry from right to left and sped into the end zone. Anderson added a 2-point conversion run to make the final score 50-0 Blazers.
Cornelsen credited a good week of practices — after a 28-7 home loss the previous week to Olathe North — as part of the reason the Trailblazers were so efficient.
“Any time you come off a loss the practices better be intense,” Cornelsen said, “and they were. Kids understood that we got embarrassed. It wasn’t our style of football or what we represent, so it was a tough week. They got after it. They knew the expectations, and I thought they did a good job handling it.”
Offensively, GEHS was paced by Butash who had 115 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs on just 7 carries (16.4 yards per carry). Bergman added 67 yards and 1 TD on 7 carries, Anderson recorded 53 yards on 1 carry and added a 2-point rushing conversion, Carter notched 27 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 7 carries, while Pritchard tallied 16 yards and 1 TD on 3 totes.
Asher Weiner led the aerial attack for the Blazers, connecting on 5 of 6 passes for 83 passing yards. Austin Weiner had 31 receiving yards on 1 catch, McClure added 2 receptions for 29 yards, and senior wide receiver Drew Cassida had one catch for 14 yards.
The Blazer defense was led by McClure who had 2½ tackles-for-loss (including 2 sacks) and a forced fumble. Williams added 1½ sacks, Dyer notched 1½ tackles-for-loss (including 1 sack) and a pass deflection, and Pritchard racked up an interception return for a touchdown and 1 tackle-for-loss.
The Blazers will be on the road this Friday night to take on Shawnee Mission Northwest.