With a year of experience under center notched on his belt, senior Connor Byers and Bonner Springs High looked to be in midseason form in its 28-14 victory against Eudora High Friday night.
The first half was more telling of BSHS coach Lucas Aslin’s game plan as the Braves threw the ball 24 of 36 times, with Byers completing 14 of those passes, including one for a 22-yard touchdown to sophomore Caden Henley.
The second half was more about controlling the clock and limiting Eudora’s time with the ball.
“Our game plan was take what they give us,” Aslin said. “We knew they did not have the athletes on the edges to cover our guys. They weren’t even covering our number two receiver. We were going to throw nows and different short routes to him. And it really worked. Byers was on, threw the ball well.
“Second half we got a little too greedy throwing the ball down field too much instead of taking the nows and the short stuff, and we tried to establish a run game. But defensively we gave up two big plays, which didn’t allow us to establish the run game.”
Aslin said it’s nice to see the Braves dial it up when they want to.
Those two plays Aslin was referring to were two scores by senior Grant Elston; one for 34 yards and the second, a 54-yard run, which made it a 21-14 game.
Eudora first-year coach Phil Katzenmeier was proud of his team despite the outcome.
After the second score, the Cardinals came off the field with “a lot fire.” They wanted to give themselves a chance at the end of the game.
But Byers was having none of it as he took the second play of Bonner Springs’ next drive 63-yards for a score.
“When Connor had that long run, it broke our backs a little bit,” Katzenmeier said.
Elston’s second score came with about eight minutes left in the game. Katzenmeier thought about kicking onside, but instead they punted it deep hoping the defense would get a stop.
Byers said there were a few drives prior to his long run where the Braves couldn’t get anything going. Coach LaDrew Murrell told the offense they need to get Byers in position to make plays.
“Caleb Brungardt and Andrew Bryant had two of the best blocks I’ve ever seen,” Byers said. It opened up for me.”
Byers finished the game 17-for-31 for 246 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for 122 yards on 14 carries and two scores.
Aslin thinks Bonner Springs has better receivers top to bottom this year than a season ago. Senior Aaron McGee, who is known at BSHS for being a basketball player, provides added depth. Aslin joked that he reminds him of Jonah Freese and that’s why McGee is wearing the same number as Freese did last season: 13.
McGee caught three passes for 32 yards. Michael Amayo and Hayden Hoffine each caught five passes for 76 and 75 yards, respectively.
Elston ran the ball 33 times for 253 yards including the two scores.
Eudora had a chance to cut it to a one-score game, but on a 3rd and 2 from the BSHS 15, the Cardinals were called for a false start. A sack and a four-yard run on fourth down gave BSHS the ball and virtually the win.
When the Braves got the ball, on the first play, Byers aired it out to Amayo. Aslin said the play was called out of frustration.
“We weren’t completing (deep passes) earlier,” Aslin said. “I want those guys going into next week saying, ‘we can throw that fade to Amayo.’”