Paola too much for Louisburg
By David Svoboda PrepsKC staff writer
It was the kind of thoroughly dominating performance every coach dreams of his team having before it embarks on a playoff run.
Paola, riding a talented trio of offensive weapons and a defense that was downright nasty, routed defending Kansas Class 4A champion Louisburg Thursday night by a 42-7 count.
Just how dominating was Coach Mike Dumpert’s group of Panthers?
Try these numbers on for size: Louisburg had but two (yep, two) plays of 10 or more yards against the Paola defense. Three different Panther backs accounted for an unofficial 387 yards on the ground. And Paola had 10 double-digit offensive gains, including four of 30-plus yards.
“Any time you can get a win at Louisburg, you’ve got to feel good about it,” Dumpert said of his team’s effort. “Defensively, we played very quickly and tackled very aggressively.”
Tanner Staats led the Panthers on the ground, darting for 185 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. His long run was a 53-yard burst in the second quarter.
Tyler Henness was not to be outdone, rushing 15 times for 148 yards of his own, including three touchdowns – the longest of which was a 68-yarder in which he ran over a helpless Louisburg defender on his way to the end zone.
And quarterback Seth Kern put the icing on the rushing cake with 54 yards of his own.
Dumpert liked what he saw.
“That’s the kind of balance we want,” he said of the ground-game-by-committee that was way more than the home-standing Wildcats could handle.
And his offensive line keyed the effort.
“They did a nice job all year,” he said of the five up front who helped the Panthers to an 8-1 regular season and the Class 4A District 5 championship.
On this night, Paola dominated from the outset, with Louisburg’s only first-half points coming on a fumble return that made it 7-7 with just less than seven minutes left in the second quarter.
From there, Paola ripped off impressive drives of 69 and 64 yards, with all 69 of the first coming on the ground, and 38 of the second being pounded down the throats of the defending 4A champs.
The TD that put the Panthers up to stay came from Staats on a first-and-goal carry from the Louisburg 5. The extra point kick made it 14-7 with 5:08 left in the first half.
Just 4:30 later, Paola was again in the end zone, with Henness going over on a first-and-goal tote from the Louisburg 3. The TD was the 18th of the year on the ground for the 5-10, 186 pound senior running back.
The big play on the drive was a bit of a gimmick, with Staats connecting on a halfback option pass to Austin Dent for 26 yards. After the PAT, the score was 21-7, where it remained going into the half.
If the game wasn’t over at that point, it was after the first Paola drive of the second half.
That 12-play, 64-yard jaunt ended with Henness diving in from the one for his second TD. The drive took 6:07 off the clock and most of the remaining wind from the Louisburg sails.
Henness’ 68-yard romp for his final TD came less than 30 seconds later, after his defensive mates picked off an errant Louisburg pass and gave the ball back to their explosive offense.
From then on, it was time to get the starters out and begin to prepare for a Tuesday night playoff date.
“We worry about us,” Dumpert said of how his team will prepare over the next four days. “After nine games, and through what we’ll do in film preparation, we feel pretty good about where we are.”
After a 42-7 win over one of its fiercest rivals, Paola is in a good place indeed.
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