Gardner hammers Bonner Springs in 5A football playoffs
GARDNER — On second down late in the fourth quarter, Jourdaine Smallwood ran 25 yards sideways to the sideline, avoided a sack and then rushed 30-plus yards to the other side of the field.
When it looked like he might have found a crease in the Gardner-Edgerton defense, he was tackled for a 2-yard gain.
The gain was wiped out by a penalty on Bonner Springs, however, and set up a third-and-20 situation.
The play summed up the night for the Bonner Springs Braves — not a lot of highlights and few things went right.
The Braves ran into a juggernaut on Friday in the first round of the Class 5A football state playoffs.
Gardner-Edgerton looked every bit the undefeated juggernaut in search of a state championship as it dominated BSHS, 70-0.
The Braves had a chance to score in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t capitalize.
On the last play of the game, Smallwood lofted a ball to the back of the end zone. Wide receiver Joe Dooley caught the ball, but was ruled out of the end zone. With the incomplete pass, the game was over.
“We wanted to score,” coach Lew Kasselman said. “We wanted the kids to feel good about something in the game.”
Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of highlights for the Braves, who had few answers for one the state of Kansas’ best teams and a group that is ranked No. 24 in a national football poll.
The Trailblazers entered the game with quarterback Bubba Starling in the lineup. Starling — a University of Nebraska football and baseball signee — and his teammates owned an East Kansas League championship district title and 9-0 record. Meanwhile, Bonner Springs entered with a 4-5 record and victories in four of its last five games.
While BSHS had found answers against most of its opponents in recent weeks, the Braves had no answers for Starling and the Trailblazers as they scored on every possession.
Gardner-Edgerton scored on the fourth play of the game when Brett Jensen rushed in for a 4-yard touchdown.
The Trailblazers scored again on their next possession when Daniel Mauszyscki rushed for a 4-yard touchdown. The play capped a six-play 68-yard drive. Starling had a 48-yard run on the drive.
After a BSHS three-and-out, it was back to work on for the defense.
Moments later, GEHS was back in the end zone after a 20-yard run by Jensen, and the Trailblazers led 21-0 after the first quarter.
Bonner Springs had its best drive of the half late in the first quarter. Smallwood connected with Dooley on a long pass, but the drive stalled when Smallwood was stopped short on a fourth-down run.
On the Trailblazers’ next possession, Starling connected with Clayton Dye for a 31-yard touchdown pass. The ball was tipped by a Braves player and caught for the score.
After a Bonner Springs possession, Gardner Edgerton scored on a 41-yard touchdown run by Tim Seymour. The score was 35-0.
After another three-and out for the Braves, Gardner-Edgerton scored on a 77-yard pass from Starling to Tyler Stuber.
Starling was a dominating performer in the first half, with 134 yards rushing and 116 yards passing.
“Man, he is fast,” Kasselman said, alluding to Starling’s effort in the game.
On Gardner-Edgerton’s final drive of the half, Jensen rushed for another touchdown. The score was 49-0 at intermission.
Starling watched the second half with a stocking cap on and his helmet off. His teammates kept rolling.
The Trailblazers scored on a six-play 60 yard drive that concluded with a Traevohn Wrench touchdown. Wrench later scored two more touchdowns, leading the Trailblazers to a 70-point victory.
Following the Braves’ late drive, coaches tried to look for positives and praised the Trailblazers’ performance.
“If you want to get to the level like that, it takes a lot of work,” Kasselman said to his team.
“I like how you fought to the end, but believe me, to get to that level it starts now,” assistant coach Tim Cottrell said. “Now is when it starts to get ready for next year. Not in the summer, but now. Remember that.”
That was the lesson to the team; that perhaps with a few great seasons of hard work, the Braves can compete with upper echelon teams in Kansas.
“You can’t just talk about it; you have to get things done,” Kasselman said.
Bonner Springs concludes the season with a 4-6 record.
Gardner-Edgerton (10-0) advances to face Shawnee Heights (4-6). Heights reached the state quarterfinals by routing Mill Valley, 56-30, in the first round.