Bonner Springs takes it to the Max against Lansing
On a night when the homecoming king and queen were named at Bonner Springs High School, a football king stole the show.
Senior tailback and linebacker Max Barren led the Braves to a 44-21 victory over Lansing on Friday night in front of one of the largest crowds seen at David Jaynes Stadium. The stands were packed with the graduating classes of 1964, 1984 and 1989, all heavily clad in the orange and black of their alma mater.
Barren toted the ball an eye-popping 55 times for 303 yards and one touchdown. He also had a remarkable interception that helped put the game away. After the game, however, Barren was quick to credit the evening as a team victory.
“It’s all about the team tonight,” said Barren, whose team amassed 501 yards of offense.
The Braves were able to run downhill all night, smashing the Lions up front with a fast-paced rushing attack. The victory was the first on the season for Bonner (1-2) and helped avenge a controversial loss at Lansing last season.
“It was great because we talked about establishing the tone early on and play hard-nosed football,” Braves coach Lew Kasselman said. “We just took it to them all night. This win can build momentum — confidence for our kids.”
Bonner jumped on the scoreboard first on a 2-yard Brandon Eastland quarterback sneak up the middle, but the Braves missed the extra point giving them a 6-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Lansing faked a reverse and got the ball out to its own 47-yard line. On third down from midfield, quarterback Cullen Demarest found Parker Gibson on a short wide receiver screen. Gibson turned it up the field, made one move and was gone for a touchdown. The extra point gave the Lions a 7-6 lead, but it would be their last.
The Braves set out on a 15-play, 83-yard drive that chewed up the clock and ended with junior fullback Joe Hilario tumbling into the end zone from three yards out. Barren ran in the 2-point conversion and gave the Braves a 14-7 lead.
Both offenses began to stall midway through the second quarter before Gibson struck again. The Lions used a short pass to ensure that he got the ball in his hands, but after that the Lansing junior raced 82 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
With the game tied and time running out in the second quarter, Bonner turned to its quarterback for a score. After three runs by Barren, Eastland dropped back in the pocket and hit Lucas Porras on a 27-yard flag-route for a touchdown. Porras snuck behind Lansing’s safeties, beat his man and Eastland hit him with a strike. Barren punched in another 2-point conversion, giving the Braves a 22-14 lead at halftime.
The Braves picked up where they left off on their first drive of the second half, breaking Lansing’s back on a 16-play, 63-yard drive that featured Barren’s only touchdown of the night — a 1-yard plunge. A 2-point conversion gave the Braves a commanding 30-14 lead.
Bonner added another touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter when Eastland found Steve Williams on a slant route from six yards out, making the score 36-14.
Barren, despite dominating the evening from his running back spot, turned in a highlight-reel play on the defensive side of the ball in the fourth quarter. Demarest dropped back to pass and tried to complete a swing pass to Barren’s man, but the Bonner sparkplug leaped into the air and wrestled the ball away from the Lions’ receiver for an interception.
Moments later, Barren returned to the offensive side of the ball and broke off a 30-yard run that set up a 12-yard score by Hilario.
“Max is a warrior,” Kasselman said. “He is going to give you everything that he’s got on every play. Offense, defense, it doesn’t matter what it is. We try to wear him out. Fifty-five carries — you know, the ball isn’t very heavy.”
Bonner will attempt to avenge another loss from last season when it takes on Mill Valley (1-2) at 7 p.m. Friday at MVHS.
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