Fired-up Wildcats thump Chargers 27-14
After suffering a humiliating 72-0 loss to Santa Fe Trail in 2000, De Soto football coach Brad Scott was inspired to pen a sign that read, 'Those who stay will be champions."
It was a way for Scott and all others involved in the De Soto football program to remember just what happened that night and to get better.
Knowing this season's 4-1 team had an excellent chance to end years of futility against traditional power Santa Fe Trail, Scott followed the suggestion of one of his assistant coaches. He carefully peeled the wrinkled, yellowed piece of paper off the locker that housed it for Friday's showdown with the Chargers.
"We had finally come full circle, and the kids were playing for something," Scott said. "And now we're the unofficial small school division champions of the Kaw Valley League."
The 27-14 thumping De Soto handed Santa Fe Trail was its first win over the eastern rival, which was the second in 14 games and the first since a 14-8 triumph in 1993.
De Soto played inspired football in the first quarter of the landmark win following a pre-game pep talk featuring the sign. On just the fourth play from scrimmage, Leif Goleman put the first dent in Santa Fe Trail's armor with a 65-yard touchdown jaunt.
De Soto then forced the Chargers to punt after three plays. A bad snap put the Wildcats back in business at the Santa Fe Trail 30-yard line. Neil Erisman made it 13-0 seven plays later with a one-yard plunge mid-way through the first quarter.
The Wildcats came close to scoring again late in the opening quarter, but Erisman threw an interception into the end zone, ending the threat.
Santa Fe Trail also botched a scoring opportunity late in the first half after driving to the Wildcat two-yard line. Following back-to-back runs for losses, and a procedure penalty, Santa Fe Trail faced third-and-goal from the nine-yard line. A slew of Wildcats then corralled Santa Fe quarterback Lance Boss for a 14-yard loss to end the half.
"That was a huge stand for us defensively," Scott said. "We didn't want to give them any momentum going into the second half, so I was pleased that we buckled down and kept them out of the end zone."
Early in the second half, Tommy Haider gave the Wildcat offense excellent field position when he recovered a Boss fumble. Erisman then gave the Wildcats a 19-0 advantage with a one-yard plunge.
Santa Fe Trail finally got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter when Boss connected with running back Jake Marquart on a 24-yard pass, cutting the deficit to 19-6.
Following Erisman's 13-yard scoring run in the final stanza, Ryan Griffin finished off scoring for Santa Fe Trail when he latched onto a nine-yard pass from Boss.
But the drama was just beginning when the Chargers recovered an onside kick at the Wildcat 32-yard line.
"It was kind of a flukey deal," Scott said. "I mean, my gosh, it was a mortar shot that lands two yards inbounds and just sticks like that. I'm just glad our defense was able to dig in and get the job done."
Wildcat linebacker Luke Young intercepted a Boss pass, ending the threat, and De Soto ran out the clock.
Goleman led all rushers with 142 yards on 23 carries, and Erisman added 96 yards on 18 totes as the Wildcats rolled up 283 yards on the ground.
The Chargers, meanwhile, managed just 159 yards of total offense.
De Soto, 5-1, starts district play Friday when they travel to Eudora for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
"They are a big, fast, well-coached and confident football team," Scott said. "I'm excited to see how we stack up against somebody we know is good. We're ready to see if we can make some noise."
Scott said last season the Cardinals preferred the smash mouth method of winning football games, but warns that just because they've changed their style doesn't mean they're any less potent.
"They will still be excellent on defense," he said. "They throw it around on offense and try to get their skill people open in space.
"Their kids are confident and really like to compete. That's where we want to get this program year-in-and-year-out."