SM Northwest tops SM West
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
There will be a new Kansas Class 6A state champion in 2013.
Shawnee Mission Northwest's 17-14 victory over Shawnee Mission West Friday night in the Class 6A, District 2 playoffs assured that.
Northwest (3-6) will advance to the next round of the postseason while West (4-5) watches a tough, emotional season fade quietly and calmly into the chilled fall air.
"It's huge for our program because it's been a challenge since I got here to start the '12 season," Northwest head coach Linn Hibbs said. "We've been close, especially this year. We felt like we've made improvement as a program, but it just hasn't been showing up on the scoreboard. We keep telling our kids to fight and keep working. It's a credit to our kids and our coaches that we continue to fight and grind. I'm just so happy for them. Winning this game and making the playoffs is a reward for their hard work."
Both teams struggled to score points, and that was punctuated by the 7-7 halftime score.
The Cougars struck first when senior quarterback Jake Horner connected with tight end C.J. Perez on a 28-yard touchdown with 5:46 to play in the first quarter. Horner found Perez wide open in the middle of the field, and Perez did the rest through a couple of would-be tacklers all the way to the end zone.
Just two minutes later, the Vikings answered when sophomore running back Tarik Wilson made a nice run slicing through the Northwest defense and then tight-roped his way down the sideline for the last few yards for the 27-yard touchdown.
In the third quarter, Cougars' sophomore placekicker Jonathan Killeen put his team up for good when he drilled a 44-yard field goal that just cleared the crossbar to equal his career longest. Moments before the kick, a nasty wind from the north began to gust across the field. In fact, it was so strong, it blew the soccer goal onto the field.
"I just went out there and did my thing," Killeen said. "I try not to think about it as much as I can and do what I've been taught."
The Cougars put the game out of reach when senior running back Justin Moody took it in from six yards out with 5:10 to play in the game. At that point, it was 17-7.
"This means a lot to us," Moody said of his team's performance. "We had been struggling, but we got it down, and we did our thing. Now we've succeeded, and we have to continuing doing what we need to do."
West was able to march down on the ensuing drive in eight plays in two minutes and three seconds to score on a Justin Hobbs three-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to three with 3:07 to play. There was still time to get the ball back for one more chance.
With 1:36 to play, the Vikings did get the ball back at their own 36. After a holding call backed them up to their 22, they were able to convert a first down out to their 46, but three plays later, senior quarterback A.J. Verdini, threw his last pass as a Viking into the waiting arms of Northwest linebacker Jacob Gilliam, and it was all over.
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