DeSoto breaks two-decade playoff drought
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Staff Writer
DESOTO, Kan. — This was has been a long time coming.
Not since the first George Bush was in the White House have the DeSoto Wildcats won a playoff game.
It’s been more than two decades since the Wildcats tasted victory in November. All that changed Tuesday night as the Wildcats scored the first 14 points of the game and held on for a 14-7 win over Eudora, a team they haven’t had much luck against in the past five or six years.
“That was just a great high school football game,” said DeSoto head coach Tom Byers, as the fans poured onto the field at DeSoto High School to celebrate with the players. “We just kept doing what we do best. The kids never gave up.”
Not only did the Wildcats advance with a Class 4A Bi-district Championship, they exercised a demon from earlier in the year. Eudora beat DeSoto 22-7 on Sept. 24.
“This is awesome,” said DeSoto running back Ryan Hicks. “I can’t tell you how great this feels.”
Hicks paced the Wildcats offensive attack with 163 yard on 28 carries. Much of the DeSoto damage came in the first half. Actually most came in the opening quarter as they rushed out to a 14-0 lead.
“Our offensive line just came out and blew them off the line in the first half,” Hicks said. “They played great.”
All the points were scored in the first 14 minutes of the game. After both teams ran all over each other in the first quarter, it became a defensive struggle.
“I thought it was going to be a lot higher scoring that this,” said defensive lineman Austin Reinertson.
In a game of big defensive plays — the Wildcats forced and recovered three Eudora fumbles — Reinertson may have made the biggest, sacking Eudora quarterback Derek Webb for a loss of 10 yards with less than a minute to play. The sack pushed the Cardinals back to the 45 and stuck them in a second and 2-and-20 hole they couldn’t get out of.
“I’m just out there playing ball,” Reinertson said. “Sometimes I feel like a dog chasing a car. My eyes just lit up when I saw him.”
Reinertson came in off the blind side and knocked Webb down and the Cardinals out.
The Cardinals looked like they were on their way to tying the score when they began a fourth-quarter drive at their own 5-yard line with 10:59 to play. They drove down to the Wildcats’ 23-yard line before a fumble gave DeSoto the ball with 3:37 to play. The Wildcats had to punt, setting up the Cardinals for their final, last-ditch effort, that was thwarted by the Wildcats’ defense and Reinertson’s sack.
DeSoto took the opening kickoff and ground out a 14-play, 70-yard scoring drive that was all Hicks. The drive was capped by a Hicks 13-yard touchdown run. He finished the drive with 76 yards on 13 carries. A holding penalty pushed the Wildcats back 10 yards to give him the extra chance at real estate.
The Wildcats doubled the lead five minutes later, capitalizing on a Eudora turnover, going up 14-0 with just seconds left in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by quarterback Jeff Bowen.
The second quarter belonged to the Cardinals. They answered the Bowen touchdown with their first on a 26-yard scoring pass from Webb to Hawley Montgomery. The Cardinals lulled the Wildcats to sleep with a constant barrage of runs, and caught them sleeping on the touchdown as Montgomery was wide open right down the middle of the field.
Eudora missed a chanced to tie the score just before halftime when they could not capitalize on a pass interference penalty hat set them up at the DeSoto 11.
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