De Soto smokes Bonner, 35-7
It was essentially a meaningless game and the atmosphere around Bonner Springs reflected that.
There were plenty of good places to park. The sparse crowd didn't even come close to filling the stands. The dance team's Halloween music mix didn't even work during halftime.
In fact, about the only signs of life Thursday came from the De Soto Wildcats.
De Soto, booted from postseason consideration after a loss to Tonganoxie, rebounded to top form against Bonner, shutting down the Braves, 35-7, to secure the Cats' third-straight winning season.
"As a football team, we were as ready to play as we've been all year," coach Brad Scott said. "It wasn't that they didn't want to get on the field because they knew they'd have to get off of it. They were just flat ready to get after it."
Neil Erisman was electric in his final football game, rushing for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns while grabbing two interceptions, but his play was representative of the entire senior class's final night of high school football.
Pat Burton, Austin Bills, Luke Krehbiel, Kenny Price, Devin Tenney, Taylor Burnett and Erisman went out with the right game.
"If you want to look back over their four-year career, it was the best night the group put together," Scott said. "Every one of them at some point made an outstanding play tonight. I'm so proud of them."
The lopsided final score was fueled by a furious first-quarter attack that saw the Cats take a 14-0 lead.
Bonner answered with a 13-yard touchdown pass, but De Soto scored again before the half.
The Cats got the ball after Jake Bosnak stopped a quarterback keeper on a fourth-down-one attempt. De Soto quarterback Jake Morse found Shane Miller six plays later for a 20-yard touchdown pass and a 21-7 lead.
"It was huge," Scott said of securing the early advantage. "We wanted to get off to a quick start. When you're a team like Bonner, who has been up and down all year, we know if you can get on them early and take the fight out of them, you should be OK."
The Braves hung close in the second, but couldn't plug another touchdown past a stiff De Soto defense.
Austin DeGraeve ended a 14-play, 70-yard Bonner drive when he knocked down a fourth-down pass at the goal line.
Tyler Farmer helped set De Soto in great field position on the Braves' next possession, tackling the punter after a bad snap.
De Soto couldn't take advantage, Morse tossing an interception, but DeGraeve grabbed a pick of his own three plays later, triggering a string of turnovers that sealed De Soto's victory.
Morse turned the first interception into six points with a 26-yard pass to DeGraeve that set up a three-yard touchdown run.
Krehbiel recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Erisman turned in another six, gaining 32 yards on five-straight carries for his second touchdown.
"Neil's got great vision and he runs really hard," Scott said. "Maybe it was my fault at the beginning of the season. He wants to be in a position to effect the game on every play and when we played him at receiver, sometimes he didn't get the ball that much. Since we moved him to tailback, he's just really kind of taken over our whole offense and become our leader over there."
Erisman grabbed another interception on Bonner's first play of the next drive and De Soto ran out most of the clock with substitutes in the game.
"We were winning by so much, we didn't want to take them out," Scott said of the seniors. "We knew we should have and we did eventually, but we were having so much fun, it was just hard to let that game end."