West powers past East to lock down playoff spot
By Adam Sullivan PrepsKC staff writer
The Shawnee Mission West community had one big celebration on Friday night. Not only were they honoring the 1972 State Championship team, but also it was senior night, the band performed their annual light show, and oh ya there was a football game being played too. The Viking football players made sure to join in on the celebration as they thrashed rival SM East 31-14.
In a game featuring two 6-1 football teams both trying to inch closer to the 6A playoffs, it would be the defense of SM West that would be the difference. The Vikings rarely gave East quarterback Jordan Darling time to sit in the pocket and find receivers, and constantly had pressure on him.
After both teams traded punts to start the game, Darling was intercepted by Cooper Arner who took it 30 yards for the touchdown giving West a 7-0 lead with two minutes, four seconds left in the first quarter.
East would respond on the next drive as they chewed up clock with a 15-play drive taking nearly six minutes off the clock eventually capped off by a nine yard pass from Darling to Billy Sutherland tying things a 7-7 with 8:24 left in the first half.
On the next drive West would get into East territory but Patrick Blackburn giving the momentum back to the Lancers intercepted AJ Verdini. West’s defense would hold and force East to punt giving them the ball back with 4:05 left in the half. Six plays later Verdini would hook up with Ben Lake for a 34-yard touchdown pass giving West a 14-7 lead at the half.
“East outplayed us in the first half, and I just questioned our toughness,” West coach Tim Callaghan said after the victory. “I told our guys to play harder in the second half and I think we did.”
Callaghan’s players bought in to the halftime talk and played an amazing second half. After a quick nine-play drive by East, Darling again found Sutherland this time for a 13-yard touchdown tying the game 14-14 with 8:37 left in the third quarter.
West would tighten up from this point on and take over the game in every way. The Vikings would start with a 10-play drive taking four minutes off the clock eventually setting up a 2-yard run by Brett Sterbach giving West a 21-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“Sterbach did everything we needed him to do tonight, and he seems to show up big every week for us,” Callaghan said of his star running back
East never seemed to be able to respond from this touchdown, as there next drive out was haulted by another interception thrown by Darling this time to Ben Lake.
The Vikings would haunt the Lancers on the very next play as Verdini threw a perfect pass to Andre Maloney who sprinted 56 yards for another West touchdown putting them ahead 28-14 with 8:31 left in the game.
East would be forced to go three and out on its final two drives of the night as West continued to control the game. The Vikings managed to tack on a late field goal by Joey Reed giving West a 31-14 victory.
“It was a great win and both teams played very well,” Callaghan said.
With the win West improves to 7-1 on the year and clinched a spot in the 6A playoffs starting in two weeks. Up next for the Vikings will be Shawnee Mission Northwest next week.
East dropped only their second game of the season as they sit 6-2. The Lancers are still in the playoff hunt and will face off with a winless Shawnee Mission North next week.
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