Pete Logan
Despite penalty and turnover woes that slowed their offensive attack in the 1st half, the Gardner Edgerton High School football team rebounded nicely in the 2nd half, flashing a multi-pronged onslaught that dominated host Olathe East and sent the Hawks to a 41-14 defeat at College Boulevard Activities Center on Friday night. The win was the second in a row for the Trailblazers and improved their overall record to 5-2 with one regular-season game to go.
After the game, Blazer head coach Jesse Owen credited his offensive and defensive lines with taking control of the game after a lackluster 1st half.
“In the 2nd half,” said Owens, “we did a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage up front, first and foremost, and then – based on what they were doing defensively – we tried to get the ball on the perimeter just a little bit more and that helped us out. Our guys did a good job blocking on the perimeter tonight.”
After the Gardner Edgerton defense forced a punt on East’s first possession of the night, GEHS took over on the 50-yard line with 7:02 left to play in the 1st quarter. Ten plays into the ensuing Trailblazer drive, the Blazers faced a 4th-and-1 at the Hawks’ 17. That’s when Gardner Edgerton senior quarterback Conner Elder, who alternated at that position all night with GEHS freshman Bravin Powell, threw a quick pass to the left flat, connecting with junior wide receiver Randy Singleton for a 16-yard gain to the Olathe East 1-yard line. On the next play, Powell took a quarterback keeper around the right end of the Trailblazer offensive line 1 yard into the end zone for the game’s first score. After Blazer junior kicker Owen Dye notched the point-after-touchdown, Gardner Edgerton had a 7-0 lead with 3:16 left in the 1st quarter.
On the next East possession, the Hawks turned the ball over on downs at the GEHS 49. From there, the Trailblazers engaged on a 9-play, 51-yard scoring drive that took the contest into the 2nd quarter. On 3rd-and-5 from the East 6-yard line, Elder went on a bootleg rollout to the right side of the field, then threw the ball left, back across his body, and connected with Blazer senior tight end Austin Buie for a 6-yard scoring strike. However, the Blazer PAT was unsuccessful for the first time all season, leaving the Blazers with a 13-0 edge with 9:45 remaining in the 1st half.
The Hawks began to find some offensive rhythm and began their own long drive, marching from their own 22 to the Blazer 10 in six plays, with 25 of those yards coming via Gardner Edgerton defensive penalties. However, on 4th-and-1 from the GEHS 10-yard line, Olathe East was stopped at the line of scrimmage and were forced to turn the ball over on downs. However, another Trailblazer penalty – this time on offense – doomed the visitors’ attempts at getting the ball out beyond the 10, and Buie was forced to punt the ball from deep within his own end zone. A gusty wind held the ball up in the air on the ensuing kick and blew the ball out of bounds at the Blazer 12. On the next play, Olathe East sophomore quarterback Jack Cornell connected with junior wideout Jaden Brown for a 12-yard touchdown pass. After sophomore kicker Cameron Speier connected on the extra point, East had pulled to within 6 at 13-7 with 5:02 left in the half.
The Blazers’ last two possessions of the half ended in the ball being turned over on downs deep inside Gardner Edgerton territory and in a GEHS turnover at the East 6-yard line. Still, the Blazer defense held fast – thanks in large part to GEHS senior defensive end Ozzy Poage’s 41-yard interception return, and Gardner Edgerton limped into halftime with a 13-7 lead.
Neither team were able to score with their first possessions of the 2nd half, but – on the second time the Trailblazers possessed the ball in the 3rd quarter – they moved the ball 54 yards in 7 plays and score their third touchdown of the game when junior tailback Dylan Butash took a pitch to the left side and dashed 14 yards to the end zone. After Dye converted the kick, the Blazers lead had increased to 20-7 with 5:14 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Gardner Edgerton defense forced a 3-and-out from the Olathe East offense on the Hawks’ next possession and handed the ball to the GEHS offense at the East 45. The Trailblazers scored 9 plays and 55 yards later when junior fullback Dawson Kindler took a dive carry to the left 8 yards into the end zone. After the touchdown, Powell carried the ball into the end zone on the 2-point conversion attempt, and the Blazer lead grew to 28-7 with 14 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Another 3-and-out from Olathe East gave the ball to Gardner Edgerton at the East 41. A 9-play mixture of inside and outside runs resulted in a 41-yard scoring drive that was punctuated by GEHS senior tailback Zaine Mayfield powering into the end zone from 1 yard out. Though the Trailblazers failed to convert on the second extra point of the night, they still held a 34-7 lead with 7:39 left in the game.
The Hawks’ offense was not done, however, and constructed one more scoring drive on their next possession. A 10-play, 63-yard Olathe East scoring drive found its exclamation point when East junior fullback fullback Jalen Proctor took a counter carry to the left 9 yards for a touchdown. With the Speier extra point, the score was now 34-14 with 3:27 remaining in the contest.
However, the Blazer offense wasn’t done either. On their final possession of the night, the Gardner Edgerton offense marched 57 yards in six plays and earned the final touchdown of the night when junior tailback Mason Shoemaker took a pitch to the right side and sprinted 7 yards into the end zone. GEHS junior kicker Ashton Adrian added the PAT, making the final score Trailblazers 41 – Hawks 14.
Offensively, the Trailblazers were led by Powell, who rushed 19 times for 85 yards and a touchdown – and Elder, who was 4-for-7 passing for 50 yards and 1 TD. In addition to the pair of Blazer quarterbacks, GEHS was aided by Shoemaker who rushed times for 51 yards and a TD, Mayfield – who carried the ball 10 times for 46 yards and 1 touchdown, Kindler – who had 13 totes for 44 yards and a score, Butash – who had 5 carries for 27 yards a 1 TD, Buie – who had 2 receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown and also rushed the ball once for 13 yards, and Singleton who hauled in 2 catches for 32 yards. In all, seven different Trailblazers scored touchdowns on the evening.
Defensively, Gardner-Edgerton was paced by Poage – who had 1 sack (-1 yd.) and 1 interception return (41 yards), senior linebacker Dawson Williams – who recorded 1 sack (-5 yards) and a pass deflection, and junior defensive tackle Spencer Easley – who notched 2 tackles-for-loss (-2 yards).