Braves’ playoff hopes dashed with 27-16 loss to Shawnee Heights
When a football team turns the ball over five times in a game, the chances of winning are slim.
When it happens in district play against a quality opponent, the task becomes nearly impossible.
Bonner Springs did just that Friday night in the second game of the Class 5A district playoffs against visiting Shawnee Heights, shooting itself in the foot time and time again in a 27-16 defeat.
With the loss the Braves were eliminated from contention for the state playoffs. Shawnee Heights clinched the district title with the victory.
The T-Birds used a powerful and speedy ground game to rack up 249 yards rushing for the game. Powered by sweep plays to the left by senior Tyler Pfeifer and sweep plays to the right by senior Austin Flohrschutz, the Shawnee Heights offense did whatever it wanted to in the second half.
“That (sweep) play is a tough play to defend because they pull all of their linemen to the side so they can block out in front,” BSHS coach Lew Kasselman said. “We did a good job at times but allowed too many big plays out of that formation.”
Bonner Springs got on the scoreboard first with a Chance Crawford 20-yard field goal with 6:42 remaining in the first half. Shawnee Heights struck back a mere 25 seconds later on a 9-yard touchdown rumble by Flohrschutz.
Bonner regained the lead on their next possession. Working with a short field, Jonathan Walker ran for 39 yards, and his twin, Jeremy Walker, caught an 18-yard bubble-screen from Brandon Eastland that moved the ball to the 2-yard line. Eastland then snuck the ball up the middle on two straight runs with the second one accounting for a touchdown. That gave the Braves a 10-7 lead going into halftime.
The T-Birds came out of the locker room possessed. After four runs, they stuck the ball in the endzone capping the drive with a 10-yard scamper by Pfeifer.
Shawnee Heights took advantage of a mistake by BSHS to extend its lead. Jeremy Walker fumbled on his own 31 and the T-Birds wasted little time. Senior receiver Matt Kobbeman exploited single coverage and received a perfectly thrown ball from quarterback Sam Vossen for a scoring strike. With just under three minutes left, the score was 21-10 in favor of Shawnee Heights.
It looked as if the T-Birds were going to run away with the game, but the Braves fought back. With second and goal on the Bonner 6-yard line, Vossen was intercepted in the endzone by senior defensive back Garron Wayne who returned it 39 yards. Three plays later, Eastland found Jeremy Walker over the middle for a 36-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed, but the lead was cut to 21-16.
Bonner got the ball back with 4:28 left and 81 yards to go to win the game. Kobbeman intercepted an Eastland pass, however, and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown that sealed the T-Birds’ victory.
“Our kids played hard tonight,” Kasselman said. “It was a hard-fought game, but a few mistakes made the difference in the game. Shawnee Heights is a good team. We’ve got some young guys who are learning what it takes to win. We have to play for pride now and play the best we can to close on a positive note.”
BSHS falls to (4-4) and will try to salvage a winning record when it plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Topeka Seaman. Seaman needs to win the game to guarantee a playoff berth, although the Vikings do hold a tiebreaker advantage over Highland Park in the event one occurs.
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