Pete Logan
It was a match-up of passing game vs. running game, and the running game won — convincingly.
The Gardner-Edgerton High School football team piled up 561 yards of rushing and 618 yards of total offense Thursday night, on their way to an overwhelming 54-13 victory over Shawnee Mission North at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
The win improved the Trailblazers’ record to 5-1 on the season.
The numbers were staggering: 561 rushing yards, two 100-yard rushers, five players with at least 60 yards rushing, four players who averaged over 21 yards per carry, four 1st quarter touchdowns, 47-0 at halftime, 0 of the Blazers’ eight touchdowns coming from less than 32 yards out. They all added up to a dominating performance.
“That’s what we try to do,” said Ryan Cornelsen, GEHS head coach, immediately after the game. “We run our base stuff and kind of figure out what they’re in and where we think our strengths and weaknesses are. Then we try and attack where we think they’re weak. We kind of found a few plays there that worked and that’s what we went to, and those plays were successful.”
The start of the game was not auspicious for the Blazers. A 55-yard pass completion on the Indians’ opening possession gave North a 1st-and-goal from the Gardner-Edgerton 1-yard line. However, on the next play, GEHS linebacker Anthony Rodriguez burst through the North offensive line and separated the ball from the Indians’ quarterback. The Blazer defense recovered the ball, giving the Blazer offense the ball at their own 6-yard line.
It took just three plays to complete a 94-yard scoring drive. On the Trailblazers’ third play of the possession, senior tailback TayeZhan Crough took a jet sweep carry around the left side of the Blazer line and raced 86 yards for the first score of the game. With junior Caleb Calvin’s extra point, GEHS had a 7-0 lead with 9:32 left in the 1st quarter.
Crough’s score was just the beginning. On the Trailblazers’ next possession, it took them just a little longer to score – one play longer. On the fourth snap of the second GEHS possession, senior quarterback Teven McKelvey took a read-option keeper to the right side of the field, going 56 yards for the next Blazer TD. Though the snap on the extra point went awry, Gardner-Edgerton still held a 13-0 advantage with 6:45 left in the 1st period.
After the Trailblazers got the ball back for the third time, they engaged on another 3-play scoring drive. This time, Crough put the exclamation point on a 68-yard drive, when he took a veer right carry in from 49 yards out. With the Calvin PAT, it was 20-0 with 2:12 left in the first frame.
The Blazers got the ball back less than a minute later on a North punt. With the final possession of the quarter, Gardner-Edgerton executed their third 3-play scoring drive of the quarter. This scoring drive culminated when McKelvey connected with Crough on an underneath passing route, and then Crough received a key block from junior tight end Gus Davis on the way to a 57-yard touchdown and a 27-0 lead.
The second quarter saw more of the same from the Blazers. On the first GEHS possession of the period, sophomore tailback Tyler Butash capped off a five-play, 69-yard scoring drive when he took a veer carry off right tackle and zipped 56 yards for a touchdown. Though the PAT snap was fumbled, the Trailblazers still held a commanding 33-0 edge with 7:18 left in the half.
It took just 24 seconds for the Blazers to get the ball back. Three straight incompletions by the Indians offense forced them to punt, giving GEHS the ball at the North 49. Four plays later, Crough scored his third TD of the game when he took a cross-buck carry from right to left and jetted home 32 yards for the touchdown and a 40-0 lead with 4:58 left before halftime.
The Blazers got the ball back one last time in the half, taking over on their own 49 after an Indians’ punt. On the fifth play of the drive, sophomore tailback Garrett Bergmann took his own veer off tackle handoff around the left side of the line and raced 40 yards for the Blazers’ 7th touchdown of the half and a 47-0 GEHS lead heading into the break.
In accordance with Sunflower League guidelines, both teams agreed to a running clock in the second half, but that didn’t seem to stop the Blazer offense. On the Blazers’ 2nd offensive play of the half, Bergmann took a jet sweep carry to the left and sprinted 77 yards for the score and a 54-0 edge.
The Indians scored two late passing touchdowns to get on the board, but there had been no doubt of who controlled the game.
Offensively, Crough led the Blazers with 177 yards rushing and three TDs on 5 carries (35.4 yds. per carry) and one reception for 57 yards and another touchdown. McKelvey added a touchdown and 66 yards on three carries (22.0 yds. per carry), to go with his 1-for-1 passing for 57 yards and a score.
Bergmann was the Trailblazers’ 2nd player to break the century mark in rushing on the night with his 127 yards and two TDs on four carries. Tyler Butash added 64 yards and a touchdown on three totes (21.3 yards per carry), senior tailback Brian Souidaray had 61 yards on one carry, sophomore tailback Lucas Anderson had 19 yards on four carries, and senior fullback Keith Brown had 19 yards on five carries.
Rodriguez paced the Blazers defensively, with a sack, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup. Junior linebacker Davonte Pritchard added a tackle-for-loss and a pass breakup.