Perry-Lecompton falls short in quest for 4A championship
Kaws were last team standing from Kaw Valley League
Salina Perry-Lecompton High appeared in position to pull even with Topeka Hayden midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s Class 4A state football championship game.
Hayden’s Blake Rothschild, however, had other ideas.
A 6-foot-1 senior safety and wide receiver, Rothschild’s interception in the end zone preserved the Wildcats’ seven-point lead, and Hayden went on to a 42-21 victory at Salina Stadium.
Hayden finished the season 13-1. Perry-Lecompton, making its first state title appearance, finished 10-4.
Using a decided size advantage up front, Hayden pounded for 353 yards on the ground and finished with 525 yards total offense on 77 snaps to 164 yards on 37 tries for Perry-Lecompton.
Rothschild was instrumental in Hayden’s win, intercepting three passes, recovering an onside kick late in the game and catching six passes for 69 yards. But his biggest grab came on defense with 6:17 left before halftime.
After falling behind, 14-0, Perry-Lecompton closed within a touchdown on quarterback Shane Gimzo’s 18-yard strike to Mark Higgins and had the momentum following a huge defensive stop.
The Kaws had the ball at the Hayden 41 after Wildcat fullback Raymond Gragg was stopped a yard short of the first-down sticks with just inside eight minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Gimzo ran and passed his team to the 20 and, on second-and-four, rolled right and fired into the end zone. Rothschild read the play and made a diving interception to snuff the opportunity.
“We knew (Gimzo) scrambles a lot, and we just told our secondary to stay back,” Rothschild said. “I saw my corner break up, and I started to go for his guy, and then I knew my guy was going to be behind, so I (slow-played) it and got lucky.”
“That was a big play for them,” Perry-Lecompton coach Mike Paramore said. “We knew how good offensively they were going to be, and we needed to take advantage of any stops we got. And we weren’t able to.
“They made a play, but our guys played their tails off.”
Once Rothschild had done his job, the Wildcats quickly went 80 yards in five plays for another touchdown as Hayden led, 21-7, at intermission.
Although Gimzo added a pair of second-half touchdowns for Perry-Lecompton, it was Hayden’s power running game with fullbacks Gragg (20 carries, 120 yards) and Brian Rathman (16 carries, 98 yards) that controlled the clock.
Gimzo finished with 154 of the Kaws’ 164 total yards — 64 rushing and 90 passing.
Perry was the last team alive in the state playoffs from the Kaw Valley League. Three teams — Mill Valley, Lansing and Turner — made it to the Class 5A playoffs. Basehor-Linwood and Bishop Ward joined Perry in the 4A postseason.