Photo courtesy of Photoexpectations.com
It was speed, then power, then defense that won the night for the Trailblazers.
The Gardner-Edgerton High School football team racked up over 270 rushing yards on offense and five tackles-for-loss (including two sacks) on defense on their way to overpowering Shawnee Mission North High School 17-7 Oct. 8 at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
The Blazer offense built up a 10-7 lead in the first half, before the Gardner-Edgerton defense stifled North in the second half to cement the victory.
After the game, GEHS head coach Jesse Owen spoke about his team’s defensive effort in the second half.
“I think they just played a lot more aggressive,” said Owen of his defensive unit. “It was just aggression on our part.”
Both teams were forced to punt on their first possessions of the game. However, on the Trailblazers’ second time with the ball, they unleashed the speed portion of their attack. On firstst-and-10 from their own 21, Blazer senior quarterback Jake McClure handed the ball to junior tailback Kyle Oatman on a right-to-left end-around carry. Oatman sprinted through the Bison defense and dashed 79 yards for a touchdown. With the McClure extra point, Gardner-Edgerton held a 7-0 lead with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
However, on North’s next possession, the Bison displayed some speed of their own. On their second play of the possession, Bison senior tailback Sam Keir took a pitch to the left side and sped 49 yards to the Gardner 21. Six plays later, North senior fullback Eric Duarte carried the ball into the end zone from four yards out. After Bison junior kicker Jason Culp notched the PAT, the score was tied at 7-7 with 11:06 left in the first half.
GEHS responded with a nine-play, 54-yard scoring drive, which featured a 14-yard carry by Oatman and a 24-yard pass completion from McClure to sophomore tight end Colton Hawkinson. McClure punctuated the drive with a 37-yard field goal that gave the Trailblazers a 10-7 edge that they would take into halftime.
The Bison opened the second half on offense and moved the ball to the Blazer 34-yard line. However, on fourth-and-seven, North senior quarterback Cotter Knowles had his pass attempt broken up by Gardner-Edgerton senior cornerback Eli Porter, and the Bison turned the ball over on downs.
The GEHS offense then unleashed their power running game, marching 66 yards in 11 plays. 32 of those yards came from Trailblazer senior fullback Carter Dewey, who continually hammered away at the interior of the Bison defensive line. The Blazer drive ate up the remainder of the third quarter and culminated in the fourth, when McClure took an option keeper to the left and weaved through the SMN defenders for a 21-yard touchdown run. McClure followed that with an extra point conversion, and the Gardner-Edgerton lead grew to 17-7 with 11:54 left in the game.
North could get nothing going on their last two drives of the contest, creating only three yards of offense on their final two campaigns. After GEHS junior noseguard Dexter Carr recovered a Bison fumble with 2:27 left in the game, the Trailblazer offense was able to run out the clock and seal their second victory in a row.
Offensively, GEHS was led by Oatman, who carried the ball nine times for 108 yards (12.0 yards per carry) and 1 touchdown, while Dewey carried the ball 22 times for 91 yards. McClure carried the ball eight times for 41 yards,and a touchdown while also completing one of three passes for 24 yards. Senior tailback Lucas Anderson carried the ball three times for 31 yards, while Hawkinson collected one reception for 24 yards.
Defensively, junior defensive end Andrew Kamtio paced the Trailblazers with two sacks, Porter contributed three pass breakups, and sophomore cornerback Cam Porter racked up one tackle-for-loss and one pass breakup.