Trailblazer Homecoming Candidates for 2018 were: Kimberly Alatorre and Sae Alcorn; Ashlyn Anderson and Tae Alcorn; Sawyer Brooks and Trenton Bilhimer; Natalie Craig and Landon Cain; Sariah Hull and Taven Ewbank. The theme was “Blue Out,” and Bilheimer and Brooks were named King and Queen. Junior attendants were: Avie Grace Ediger and Bryson Baker. Submitted photo
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner-Edgerton High School football team covered a lot of ground on Homecoming night Oct. 5 — 487 yards of it to be exact.
That’s how many rushing yards the Trailblazers piled up as they overwhelmed Shawnee Mission North, 48-20, at Gardner-Edgerton District Activities Center. The win moved GEHS to 6-0 on the season.
Senior tailback Luke Jennings piled up 209 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries for a 20.9-yards per run average, while senior fullback Jacob Hunsperger tallied 129 yards and one TD on 24 totes on the evening.
It was an inauspicious start to the game for both teams as the Trail Blazers and the Indians both coughed up the ball on their first possessions. However, when GEHS got their hands on the ball for the second time, at the 7:27 mark of the first quarter, it took them just one play to register their first score. Jennings took the ball 74 yards to the end zone on a left to right crossbuck carry, and — with sophomore kicker Caleb Calvin’s extra point — the Blazers grabbed a 7-0 lead with 7:14 left in the period.
Gardner-Edgerton then surprised the Indians when freshman kicker Jake McClure pulled off a perfect onside kick which the Blazers recovered to set them up with first-and-10 at the North 48. Five plays later, Jennings recorded his second touchdown carry of the night when he rambled to the end zone 34 yards on a counter run, and GEHS pulled out to a 14-0 lead with 5:04 left in the quarter.
That lead increased to 21-0 in the 2nd quarter when Hunsperger capped off a 13-play, 94-yard Trailblazer drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:39 left in the frame. On the drive, Hunsperger carried the ball six times for 59 yards, and the Blazers chewed up six-and-a-half minutes of clock.
Still, a Blazer miscue gave Shawnee Mission North the ball at the GEHS 40-yard line with 2:37 left in the half. Four plays later, Indians’ senior quarterback Zach Bush rolled out to the right and hit senior wide receiver Billy Conaway with a 17-yard TD pass, and North had cut the lead to 14 at 21-7 as the two teams went into halftime.
The Trailblazers took possession to open up the second half and wasted little time in reestablishing a 21-point lead. On the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Gardner-Edgerton junior quarterback Teven McKelvey took a read-option keeper to the left and sprinted 52 yards to paydirt. With a Calvin PAT, the Blazers were up 28-7 just 37 seconds into the half.
On North’s first possession of the second half, the Indians face a 3rd-and-26 from their own 21. Bush dropped back deep to pass in an attempt to lure the Blazer pass rush into a vulnerable position for a screen pass. However, GEHS senior nose tackle Peyton Vance had the play read perfectly and intercepted the pass before it could reach its intended target. Vance returned the ball three yards and set the Trailblazers up with a 1st-and-10 at the Shawnee Mission North 16. Three plays later, Mckelvey took another read-option keeper around the left side of the line for a 3-yard TD run and a 35-7 lead with 8:37 left in the quarter.
But the Indians responded by displaying their own quickstrike capabilities. On the next play from scrimmage, Conaway took an end-around carry 67 yards for a touchdown, and the score was 35-13 just 20 seconds from the previous GEHS touchdown.
Gardner-Edgerton responded by returning to a grind-it-out running attack. In 9 plays, the Blazers marched 76 yards and capped off the drive with a McKelvey three-yard quarterback sneak touchdown for a 42-13 lead with 2:49 left in the period. It was McKelvey’s third TD in a row — all in the third quarter.
North scored the first touchdown of the final quarter when senior running back Tremaine Jackson took a handoff from Bush and cut back from right to left to take it in from 36 yards out. With the ensuing extra point, the Indians had made the score 42-20 with 8:55 remaining.
Yet it was the Blazers who would have the final scoring word of the night when Junior running back Jacob Butash took his own crossbuck carry 44 yards for a touchdown with 49.4 seconds to play to make the final tally GEHS 48 – SMNW 20.
In addition to Jennings and Hunsperger’s big rushing nights, McKelvey carried the ball 11 times for 83 yards to go with his three scores.
In addition to the offense’s heroics, the Trailblazer linebacking corps had a big night defensively. Senior linebacker Corbin Moore had two tackles-for-loss, sophomore linebacker Davonte Pritchard had a sack, a fumble recovery, and half tackle-for-loss, and senior linebacker Darin Robertson had 1 half tackles-for-loss.