Wildcats entering unfamiliar territory
Leahy’s late heroics preserves De Soto’s fourth win of season
In tight situations, De Soto coaches ask the same question of defensive players -- "Who's going to make the play?"
Different players have stepped up this season to answer that question as the Wildcat football team has built a 4-1 record, the best since the district opened Mill Valley High School in 2000.
In the tightest of situations at Friday's game Tyler Leahy gave the imploring coaches the answer to their frequent question.
With the game on the line, Leahy made the play that assured De Soto's season would have a different script than last year.
In 2002, a 44-32 loss to the Kaws dropped De Soto's record to 3-2 with one of the toughest district slates in all of 4A coming right around the corner. The Wildcats finished the year 3-6.
This season, Leahy's interception with 36 seconds left allowed Wildcat quarterback Neil Erisman to take a knee on the final two plays and run the clock out. It allowed the Wildcats to walk away with a 21-14 triumph.
But it was all a blur for Leahy.
"It all happened in slow motion," an ecstatic Leahy said. "It happened so fast. I just caught the ball, ran outside and got tackled.
"This is a gigantic win for us. An enormous one. It's the biggest win this season."
This Wildcat team was built around one characteristic, Leahy said.
"We rely on turnovers," he said. "Everybody is looking for the chance to make a big play, whether it's a loss (of yardage), a fumble or an interception."
Leahy's heroics were preceded by a couple of big plays from the Wildcat offense.
Following a Wildcat fumble, Perry-Lecompton drove 68 yards in nine plays, tying the score at 14-14 with seven minutes, 30 seconds remaining. Kaw quarterback David Foltz capped the drive when he connected with Daniel Hemme resulting in a 14-yard score.
Perry-Lecompton may have taken the lead after the drive, but the Kaws were hit with an unsportsman-like conduct penalty that placed the ball at the 17-yard line for the extra-point attempt. The pass came up short.
De Soto then had enough juice left to rally for the win.
The kickoff following the game-tying touchdown rolled out of bounds, giving the Wildcats possession at their own 35-yard line. It took De Soto just eight plays to score on the drive. Ryan Brown finished off the Kaws when Erisman hit him with a perfect option pitch to the left side of the field, and he raced 36 yards for the touchdown.
"I just got into an opening," Brown said. "Neil made a perfect pitch, and I put it into another gear. I'm just glad I did it."
Erisman provided the heroics earlier in the drive when he rolled to his left on third-and-12 and saw no running room. He then broke back to the right, avoided a couple of tackles and raced 14 yards up field for a first down.
Brown scored two plays later.
"Our line was great up front," Erisman said of De Soto's ability to rally in the waning moments of the game. "They do a lot more work than I do. They deserve all of the credit."
Perry-Lecompton started the scoring early in the second quarter when quarterback David Foltz raced five yards for a score and Chris Johnson-Wettengel added a PAT run to put the Kaws up 8-0. The score capped an 11-play 58-yard drive that started at their own 42-yard line following a Wildcat punt.
De Soto came right back and pulled within two points when Erisman finished off a 10-play, 65 yard drive with a one-yard run with 6 minutes and 5 seconds left before halftime.
Less than a minute later Jacob Rupe put the Wildcat offense back in business at the Kaw 28-yard line when he intercepted a Foltz pass there.
It took the Wildcats three minutes to take their first lead of the game on a six-yard run by Erisman, who also rammed the ball home on the PAT run for a 14-8 advantage at halftime.
The Kaws were led in rushing by Sean Blosser, who led all ball carriers with 113 yards on 18 carries.
Leif Goleman led the Wildcats with 103 yards on 24 carries, while Erisman neared the century mark himself with 97 yards on 21 carries.
The Wildcats held Foltz to a minus-4 yards on eight carries. His totals included four carries for zero yards or less.
The Wildcats, 4-1, travel Friday to Overbrook for a Kaw Valley clash with traditional 4A power Santa Fe Trail.