Paola nearly perfect in first round win
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
There wasn’t a whole lot of drama in the Paola Panthers 47-6 victory over the Anderson County Bulldogs Tuesday night in the opening round of the Kansas Class 4A Bi-District playoffs. In fact, when it came to the game plan, there really were no surprises in what the Panthers wanted to do from the outset.
“We’ve been able to feed off of what the defense will give us,” said Paola head coach Mike Dumpert of his offense’s success. “It’s the scheme behind any option team. We did a little more trap tonight and took advantage of a little misdirection. Our offensive line is coming off the ball very well.”
The home win catapults Paola, 9-1, into the next round of the postseason tournament. The Panthers will travel to play the Columbus Titans this Saturday after their 41-13 win over the Parsons Vikings.
Panthers quarterback Seth Kern accounted for the bulk of the scoring with touchdown runs of two, 37 and 12 yards in the first half. He also threw for a score to running back Tanner Staats for 25 yards.
“Running the ball always is the game plan, and passing is just an extra level we go to if we need it,” said Kern. “We feel really confident in our running game, and obviously, we use it a lot.
“Our offensive line is phenomenal. Backs get all the credit, but the line does all the work, that’s about all there is to it.”
Kern had 81 yards rushing, while Staats led the way with 167, and Tyler Henness added 59.
“It’s been a three-headed monster all year with these guys,” Dumpert said of his three rushers.
Defensively, the Panthers were like a brick wall. If it wasn’t for the 50-yard run from Bulldogs tailback Cale Hedges late in the game, Paola’s defense would have held Anderson County to less than 100 yards of total offense.
The Bulldogs, 5-5, lone score came on the final play of the game when Zach Hilliard dove in from the two-yard line. It was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect night for the Panther defense.
“It was disappointing to not get the shutout,” junior linebacker Nevin McCracken said. “We need to keep the intensity on defense. That’s one of the most important things for our success.”
So with a short week, there won’t be a lot of time to prepare, heal and rest up for Columbus, but Dumpert knows his team will be ready to go.
“Obviously, you can’t go into huge detail,” Dumpert said of the short week of preparation. “There’s only so much mentally your kids can absorb. More than anything else, we want to make sure we’re sound in our assignments, that we know what we’re doing on the offensive side. And defensively, just line up, and not get outflanked or get outnumbered and make them beat you.”
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