Louisburg locks down district crown
By Fred Davis PrepsKC Staff Writer
PAOLA, Kan. – There was nothing flashy and there weren’t an abundance of big plays Thursday night, but Louisburg did what it’s done all season – make plays when they needed to and play suffocating defense in a 21-3 win over Paola.
“We knew it was going to be a hard-nosed physical battle,” said Louisburg Head Coach Gary Griffin. The win pushed the Wildcats record to 9-0 and sealed their district championship. “That might be the best defense we’ve played all year.”
The first quarter, in fact most of the first half, didn’t offer much in the way of offense as both teams struggled to get any momentum going before Louisburg found a rhythm late in the first half. With eight minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the first half, starting at their own 17-yard line, the Wildcats put together a nice 11-play, 83-yard drive that featured junior running back Garrett Griffin, who carried the ball five times during the drive for 51 yards.
And while the Wildcats ran the ball 10 of the 11 plays on the drive, it was a passing play, where senior quarterback Kody Cook, who scrambled right, and then scrambled back to his left, bought enough time to find senior wideout David Embers in the corner of the endzone for 23 yards on third and eight to give the game its first points of the evening and the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
But the Panthers, who found themselves with great field position at their own 46 after a Tanner Staats return, had 2:55 to make something happen. And indeed they did, driving 28 yards to the Louisburg 26 where their drive stalled. However 6-6 senior kicker Nick Wilson booted a 43-yard field goal just before the half and suddenly it was 7-3 at the half.
After punting on its opening possession of the half, Louisburg capitalized when they blocked Skylar Hawkins punt and found themselves sitting with great field position at the Paola 27-yard line. However the Paola defense tightened up for three downs, forcing the Wildcats into a fourth and eight from the 25.
But once again, in an almost eerily coincidental play from both sides, Kody Cook bought time with his feet, rolled to his right and completed a 25-yard pass to a wide open Embers in the corner of the endzone to give the Wildcats a 14-3 lead.
Paola appeared to put itself back in position to draw closer after Staats ran the ensuing kickoff back some 60 yards to the 26 and a personal foul penalty put the ball half-the-distance to the goal line; so the Panthers were sitting pretty at the Wildcat 13. But the Louisburg defense allowed the Panthers only seven yards in three plays, and the usually automatic Wilson missed a gimmie 23-yard field goal that appeared to go through, however the referees said the ball sailed outside the left upright by a foot.
Two possessions later, Louisburg put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a 58-yard run by Griffin that sealed the 21-3 win and silenced the Paola faithful.
Now Louisburg sets its sights on the playoffs and a 4A Championship, and Griffin told his players as much after the game.
“There’s still a lot of football left to play.”
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