Ice as nice

Sean Kosednar/PrepsKC

By Sean Kosednar PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: November 29, 2015 - 1:18 AM

Topeka - Not even rain nor a frozen field could cool off Bishop Miege’s offense as they faced off against the Jaguars of Andover Central in the Kansas 4A Division I State Championship Saturday at Hummer Sports Park.

The weather was the story prior to kick off. Temperatures hovered around freezing all afternoon, and participants endured a steady rain and an ice-covered field. After kick-off, however, the story was all Miege.

The first quarter was dominated by the Stag’s star running back Dawson Downing. Miege took the opening kickoff and started feeding the senior immediately. Downing capped off the opening drive with a 10-yard touchdown, his first of three in the quarter and six on the day.

“All week long we have been hearing about how good Birch is, but we think Downing is one of the best running backs in the state,” Bishop Miege head coach Jon Holmes said. “He was lights out for us today. It was obviously pretty tough for us to throw, so we went to Dawson pre-game and asked him if he was ready to go and he said ‘he was.’”

The highlight of the quarter was Downing’s third touchdown. The Stag rusher took the hand off on the first play following a punt for a simple draw. Downing burst through the line and was met by a trio of Jaguar defenders. Each one got a hand on Downing, but none were able to bring him down. After breaking free Downing raced the rest of the 79 yards to put his team up 21-0 near the end of the first quarter.

“We knew [Downing] was going to be pretty good,” Andover Central head coach Tom Audley said. “We actually thought they were going to feed their wide receiver [Armstrong] more. But Downing can really stay on his feet, and anyone who can do that in conditions like today was going to be tough to stop.”

If the first quarter was about the Stag’s running attack, then the second stanza was all about their defense. After sophomore quarterback Carter Putz finished off a long drive, which started by getting a sack on fourth and goal and included a fake punt, with a seven-yard scramble touchdown, Bishop Miege scored two straight defensive touchdowns. The first came on the ensuing kickoff. The ACHS returner brought the ball out to the 20-yard line before he was hit knocking the ball loose. Senior safety Ray Vaca scooped up the loose ball and ran into the end zone raising a hand over his head as he crossed the goal line.

“We heard how good their defense was all week,” Holmes said, “and I think our defense took offense to that. We only give up 16 points a game, and they were really able to step up today.”

Things went from bad to worse for the Jags on their next possession. After stringing together a few plays, Vaca struck again. Andover Central ran the ball up the middle, but three yards past the line of scrimmage the ball was knocked loose again. Again, Vaca was in the right place at the right time. The senior picked the ball up and ran 20 yards for his second touchdown of the game.

 “I just pick the ball up,” Vaca said. “I don’t hit anyone. That’s what we have big guys for. The coaches always put us in good positions and we know that if we execute it will work.”

The lone bright spot for Andover Central came near the end of the half. A long pass set up the Jaguars only score of the half. Senior quarterback Peyton Hulsig dropped back and after surveying the field launched a high arcing pass to the back left corner of the end zone. Senior wide receiver Darraja Parnell got two steps behind the Stag defender and was able to easily haul in the touchdown. After a missed extra point the halftime score was 48-6 Bishop Miege.

After the intermission, the Stag’s defense picked up right where they left off. They picked off Andover Central on their first drive. Then Miege held on fourth and goal for the second time. Putz led his team on a 94 yard touchdown drive spured by big plays from Cameron Clark and Jafar Armstrong. Putz scored his only touchdown of the day on a nine-yard pass to senior wideout Danny Murphy.

With nine minutes left in the game Bishop Miege started subbing its seniors out one by one allowing each of them to receive a standing ovation from the crowd.

“These seniors were freshman my first year here,” Holmes said. “It was important to me to get those guys that recognition after what they have been through. We were runner-ups our their first year. Now we are back-to-back champions. It couldn’t be any sweeter for those guys,”

Andover Central’s Jordan Birch punched in a touchdown late in the game making the final score 68-12. The victory gave Bishop Miege back-to-back state championships.