Winnetonka edges SM South for first win

By SJ Munoz PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: September 15, 2016 - 9:10 PM

With a struggling offense, Winnetonka found a way to manufacture points on defense and special teams as they earned their first win of the season, 21-14, over Shawnee Mission South.

The victory was the school's first win since August 2015 (13 games).

"We've been preaching to just keep working and do the right thing," Winnetonka head coach Jared Barge said. "We needed a win really bad for our program. Our guys have been fighting so hard and we've had lots of injuries. I'm just so happy for the kids and the coaches."

On Thursday night at North Kansas City District Stadium, both teams had their issues offensively before the Griffins got untracked via special teams.

Winnetonka blocked a SM South punt and returned it to the Raiders 1-yard line at the 9:41 mark of the second.

On the next play, senior quarterback Ben Giebler crossed the goal line and Winnetonka led 6-0, after the PAT was missed.

Then it was the Griffin defense's turn as senior defensive end James McMullen came up with the sack in the end zone for a safety and the 8-0 lead.

Winnetonka's defense kept the pressure on and created another TD when DJ Harral picked off a pass and returned it for six. With 4:41 to go in the half the Griffins led 15-0.

South was able to switch the momentum before the end of the half with a 2-minute drive capped by quarterback Will Choate running it in from six yards out on 4th down with just six seconds left.

At halftime it was 15-7.

In the second half the Griffins looked to their defense once more to push the lead back to double-digits.

With 7:08 to play in the third McMullen came up with a fumble recovery at the Raiders 16. On the ensuing drive, Dantee Fearon cashed in from three yards out and it was a 21-7 Winnetonka lead.

SM South refused to go away forcing a turnover to set up a 4th-quarter touchdown. Penalties also aided a drive which ended with a QB sneak by the Raiders Deonte Carroll to make it a one-score game (21-14) with just under five minutes to play.

South had a chance to drive down the field and tie the game late, but an interception by Giebler with 1:47 to go sealed the win for the Griffins.

"Our defense just played so hard, I'm so proud of our guys and it's a big deal for our program to get a win tonight," Barge said. "We've struggled on offense all year and our defense has really kept us in most every game. I'm really pleased with how hard we fought."

The Griffins (1-4) will take on Raytown South next week, while SM South (0-3) travels to Leavenworth.