Summit Christian handles Holden

By Dave McQueen PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: November 10, 2018 - 2:58 AM

Josh McConnell said he had never played on such a frigid night before. As hot as he was, it was hard to tell.

McConnell has been racking up yardage all season as Summit Christian Academy’s main running back, and Friday night he shook off the bone-chilling cold to rush for 189 yards and five touchdowns and power his team to a 49-12 victory over Holden in the Class 2 District 7 final at Lee’s Summit High School.

McConnell, a 5-foot-10, 155-pound senior, carried the ball 23 times and scored on runs of 69, 1, 2 and 19 yards. He also returned a punt 49 yards for a TD and kicked seven extra points. And he played in the secondary on a defense that shut Holden down in the second half.

And all of that while shaking off the effects of a chilling north wind on a 20-degree night.

“Never played on a night this cold before,” McConnell said. “Playing for a small school, you play both ways and just that aspect of it gets you warm.”

McConnell has had the hot hand in Summit Christian’s offense all season with a 150-yard rushing average coming into the game. But even with his big night, it took Summit Christian (10-2) awhile to get the upper hand on Holden.

Summit Christian’s Eagles took a 7-0 lead on a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Grayson Sprouse to Christian Newsome that capped its first possession, but Holden’s Eagles made it 7-6 on a 51-yard run up the middle by running back Fred Frazier.

Frazier, who finished with 237 yards on 39 carries, scored the first of his two TDs one play after Summit Christian drew an offsides penalty when Holden (8-4) punted on fourth down.

McConnell scampered for a 69-yard score on Summit Christian’s next play, but Holden made it a 14-12 game when Frazier ran in from 15 yards out with a minute left in the first half. The drive started after a Sprouse fumble ended Summit Christian’s previous possession.

“We made some mistakes in the first half,” Summit Christian coach Todd Berck said. “That really gave them two scores. I just challenged my defense going into halftime. I was mad. We changed our defense up a little bit, took away the edge, and it was effective.”

McConnell scored on a 1-yard run with 5.9 seconds left before halftime for a 21-12 Summit Christian lead, and Holden wouldn’t come close to scoring again. His punt return made it 28-12 late in the third quarter and he added two and 19-yard TD runs before calling it a day in the fourth quarter. Zach Koch tacked on another TD with a 4-yard run late in the final period.

“I give all the credit to my blockers,” said McConnell. “I just find the hole and accelerate. They all did a great job.”

“He is just a special kid,” Berck said of McConnell. “He’s a special talent and just a super human being. We’re just blessed to have him a little bit longer.”

One year after falling to Holden in the district final, Summit Christian now finds itself a district football champion for the second time in the program’s six-year history. The Eagles will face Lathrop, a 41-6 winner over Lawson Friday, in the Class 2 quarterfinals Nov. 17.

“This is something the team worked for all year long, top eight in the state,” Berck said. “I’m just excited for these kids.”