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Photo Credit: Nick Smith/PrepsKC

It only took two plays for Graham Mertz and the Blue Valley North Mustangs to score their first touchdown Friday, Nov. 9 against the Trailblazers of Gardner Edgerton. It only took four total plays for North to score their second of seven touchdowns on their way to a 49-28 win.

“Gardner is a great team,” Mertz said. “All week were stressing how it was going to be a battle and that’s exactly what it was.”

Blue Valley North head coach Andy Sims said it all starts with their quarterback.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of offense you run,” Sims said, “the quarterback is such a vital sport because they touch the ball so much. We have a very, very good one. I am so proud of Graham, the way he has come back and battled. He is one of the best around.”

Mertz had six touchdown passes on the day, including two to fellow senior Cameron Burt. In the third quarter, Burt broke the single season reception yardage record for Kansas 11-man football.

“It was a lot of hard work,” Burt said. “I didn’t start keeping track [of the record] until I started getting close to it. I kind of knew where I was at but didn’t want to be too selfish and bring it up or anything. We have to spread the ball around. It was good breaking it though.”

Mertz and Burt have played together their whole lives, and they have developed a connection because of it.

“[Graham] puts it where we need it every single time,” Burt said. “I don’t have to worry about coming back for the ball. All I have to do it get open.”

“I know where he is going to be,” Mertz said, “he knows where I am going to throw it. So that helps a ton. I a m proud of him, and I couldn’t be more-happy.”

As the defending Kansas state champions, it would be easy for North to be looking ahead to bigger games to come.

“Blue Valley North isn’t the type of program where we can just roll the balls out and play,” Sims said. “We had to hit the reset button going into the playoffs and refocus. I don’t believe in doing extra game planning for the future during practice. We need all hands-on deck. Now we have to treat this like any other week, and it starts tonight.”

It may be to total opposite of the Mustangs’ air raid, but Gardner’s triple option is just as taxing on defenses.

“The defense the last two weeks has played phenomenal,” Sims said. “That’s a very, very tough offense. They just grind on you and wear you down. Our guys did a great job of battling. We did a great job of any time [the defense] got stops we turned it into points.”

The Mustangs will face Olathe North in the semifinals Friday, Nov. 16.