Mill Valley holds off Lansing
It was a game that was supposed to be settled on the ground, but two plays through the air proved to be the difference as Mill Valley edged Lansing, 21-14, Friday night at MVHS in a game that decided both the Kaw Valley League and Class 5A district football championships.
The game pitted the KVL’s most potent rushing attacks, but Lansing came out throwing. On the first play of the game Mill Valley’s Tanner Rainbolt picked off LHS quarterback Cameron Trowbridge’s pass. In the second quarter Rainbolt got a hand on another pass and it deflected into teammate Shea Miller’s hands for an interception. The Jaguars turned both picks into touchdowns.
“We’ve got a big take-away ratio board on the wall in there (in the locker room),” MVHS coach George Radell said. “It’s very important to us. We preach it week in and week out. It’s huge.”
The first score came on a 10-play, 60-yard drive strictly of runs by Nicholas Woods, Shawn Stene and Kellen Kinnamon. Taylor Brown capped the drive with a 24-yard run on a sweep to the right. Mark Biesma’s extra point made it 7-0 with 7:21 left in the first quarter.
“It was just a really important game and I knew from the start that we had to get it going and driving hard,” Stene said of the Jaguars’ success on the ground.
Both teams traded punts, and then Lansing turned its third possession into its first score.
The Lions went 53 yards on eight plays spanning the end of the first quarter and the start of the second. The bulk of the yardage came on two pass plays as Trowbridge connected with Ryan Delich for 23 yards and Matt Robbins for 10 yards. Brenton Smith scored on a 2-yard dive. Robbins’ kick tied the score at 7-7 with 9:38 left in the half.
After a Mill Valley punt, Lansing launched another drive. Then came Miller’s interception with 4:57 left. A 5-yard touchdown plungh by Woods with 4 seconds left sent the Jaguars into halftime with a 13-7 lead.
“We made some errors on offense,” Lansing coach Bill Pekarek said. “We didn’t see the ball much in the first half. That hurt us a little bit. We didn’t take advantage of what the defense was giving us, and we turned it over twice.”
Mill Valley got the ball to start the third quarter, and the Jaguars used a 14-play, 62-yard drive to gain a little bit of breathing room. A 26-yard run by Stene off of a fake to Woods up the middle took care of the bulk of the yardage. Quarterback Luke Lawyer scored on a 4-yard run and then threw to Kinnamon for the 2-point conversion to give MVHS a 21-7 lead with 5:13 left in the third quarter.
Lansing was down, but not out.
After both teams swapped punts, the Lions began an 88-yard march. Eddie Silva made a sliding 23-yard grab, and then LHS began feeding the ball to fullback Nathan Wessel for a series of runs. The hard-running Wessel plowed through the middle for a 5-yard touchdown. Robbins’ extra point cut the Mill Valley lead to 21-14 with 7:23 left in the game.
Mill Valley gobbled up four minutes of clock with a string of nine runs — six of them by Woods — before punting. Lansing had one last shot. The Lions marched 40 yards to midfield, but a sack by Chris Mayer, a batted-down pass by Justin Muldoon and a drop on fourth down gave the ball back to the Jaguars. After Lawyer took a knee twice, the clock ran out and the Jaguars collected their eighth straight victory.
The loss was Lansing’s first of the season. The Lions now are 8-1 heading into their fifth straight state playoff appearance.
The Jaguars also are 8-1, their only loss coming in the season-opener at 2007 state champion Blue Valley West. Muldoon said the latest victory was satisfying, and he said the Jaguars were prepared well for it.
“We knew what was at stake,” he said. “Every game we’ve known what was at stake, and we’ve wanted this since the beginning of the season Aug. 18.”
Friday marked the third straight game the Jaguars have used a strong early defensive presence to seize control of a game. Radell said he likes the edge his team is playing with now.
“There were some up and downs, but just like we said, we did not want to be peaking week five or week six,” Radell said. “I think we have continued to improve, and we’re playing as good as we’ve played all year right now which is what you want.”
Mill Valley will play host to a playoff game at 7 p.m. Friday. The opponent has yet to be determined. Lansing will play on the road Friday in the first round of the playoffs.