Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 12/7

Jim Bradford

By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: December 7, 2012 - 1:52 PM

Vikings are champs, what a beautiful sight
TOPEKA, Kan. — The magnitude of what the Shawnee Mission West Vikings did this season was not lost on the current Vikings.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I have been dreaming of this,” said West senior linebacker Max Bullard. “Coach Callaghan is the greatest coach.”
Staring at a 14-6 halftime deficit with a defense that was being gouged for big chunks of yards and a star running back doubled over, puking on the field, the Vikings found a little something at halftime.
They found a whole lot of something.
Their offense found some rhythm, and their swarming, athletic defense found its mojo.
“The guys weren’t down in the lockerroom (at the half),” said West coach Tim Callaghan. “It was almost like it was against Lawrence (earlier this year). It was like, ‘How could this be happening to us?’”
The second half was all West, and it netted them their first state title since 1985, a drought that seemed like it might never end. They came close in 2006, losing to Hutch 21-14 in the title game.
The Vikings had a pair of short scoring drives in the second half that pulled them back from an eight-point halftime deficit, but it was one drive in particular that helped propel the Vikings to the top.
And it was the one that netted the Vikings zero points, but ate up the final 4:48 of the game. The 12-play drive came on the heels of a big boot from Hutch punter Trevor Turner. He uncorked a beauty just when the Salthawks needed it.
The 69-yard punt put the Vikings with their heels on the goal line, starting the drive at their own 5-yard line.
“That drive was big, for sure,” said Callaghan. “All 11 of those guys on the field did their part on that one.”
The Vikings ate up the clock by getting five first downs and keeping the explosive Hutch offense off the field.
Well, the way the West defense was playing, letting the Salthawks offense take the field might have been just as good of a move. Hutch had just 50 yards of offense in the second half. Fifty yards!
The win exorcised a lot of demons for the Vikings — the demons of 2006 as well as the demons of a couple of first-round playoff losses in recent years, too.
That’s all forgotten now.
“I want to cry, but I won’t,” Bullard said with a sly smile. “I’m so happy, but sad at the same time because this is my last high school football game, and I will never play with my brothers (here at West) ever again.
“It’s really… I can’t describe the feeling.”
The feeling goes so much deeper than just one win and one state title, though.
“This really validates what these kids are doing,” Callaghan said, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s such a great feeling. I’m so happy for these kids.
“Looking up at the stands and seeing all of those fans screaming (after we won) was a beautiful thing.”