Winnetonka wins rivalry rematch
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
On Oct. 5, Winnetonka defeated its rival North Kansas City 35-14, capping off a midseason six-game winning streak for the Griffins. But it’s funny how the football gods can work in mysterious ways when seedings and prospective matchups can occur in the postseason.
The Hornets 26-7 win over Truman last Thursday in the opening round of the Class 5, District 7 playoffs, assure a rematch Wednesday night between these two long-time foes.
Winnetonka (7-3) came out victorious again 34-13 on the legs of its two running backs Aaron Mends and Marquise Doherty.
Mends racked up 171 yards and three touchdowns, while Doherty added 104 and a score.
“I think this was a big achievement for the entire North Kansas City School District,” Mends said of playing North Kansa City in the playoffs. “Typically, they underestimate us and don’t think North Kansas City and Winnetonka will make it to the playoffs, but we got here, and since it was our rivals, and we had already played them once, it should be a good game. They were going to come to play.”
According to Griffins head coach Sterling Edwards, the game plan coming in was to run the ball at the Northtown defense, but things didn’t really take off until the second half as both teams went in to the locker room deadlocked at seven.
“We knew we wanted to give them a whole lot of Mends and Doherty and (Chase) Williams too, and that’s what we did,” Edwards said. “That was the plan all along to run the football.”
Mends first touchdown came on a 68 yard run down the right side, breaking from the pack into open field.
The Hornets (5-6) answered just three minutes later when quarterback Marcus Jones, who finished the night with 139 yards on the ground, plunged in from two yards out to even the score.
“We challenged them a little bit at halftime,” Edwards said. We didn’t come out and play as well as we could. We kind of let them dictate the tempo of the game and the way the game was going to be played, so we challenged them to come out and take control, and they responded.”
Then Winnetonka scored three straight touchdowns in the third quarter to take control of the game. First, Mends from 11 yards out, then Doherty on a spectacular 47-yard sprint through the heart of the Hornets defense, and finally Mends on a one-yard dive.
Northtown’s Kyle Bates closed out the third quarter with a three-yard touchdown to narrow the gap to 27-13, but midway through the fourth, Julious Sebastiano hit Williams all alone in the end zone for an 19-yard score to put the game out of reach.
Near the end, as can happen in may rivalry games, and this being a playoff contest, tempers began to flare a bit, and a handful of unsportsmanlike penalties were called on both sides.
With rematches being a bit of a theme, now the Griffins move on to face Fort Osage for the district title on Monday, in a rematch of last year’s Class 5 playoff game that saw the Indians get the better of the Griffins 12-3.
“Fort Osage is a good team, and they don’t make mistakes,” Mends said. “I remember as a sophomore what it was like playing them. I’ll tell them the team that Fort Osage is no joke. We have to take it to them, if we want to be district champs.”
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