Gardner tops Olathe Northwest

By Andrew Robinson PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 29, 2016 - 1:31 AM

For three and a half quarters of Gardner-Edgerton’s 23-16 victory over Olathe Northwest (3-6) on Friday night, Gardner-Edgerton head coach Marvin Diener stood on the sideline knowing he might have just the play the Blazers (4-5) needed to catapault them into the second round of the KSHSAA Class 6A playoffs.

So with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game and Gardner-Edgerton trailing by one point, Diener dialed up a pass play after a run-heavy game plan for most of the evening.

And sure enough, it worked just as he drew it up. Senior quarterback Griffon Johns found senior running back Jesse May wide open down the middle of the field to give the Blazers a 23-16 lead on a 42-yard touchdown pass.

“We were literally saving that play for the fourth quarter when we knew we could throw it into the wind,” Diener said. “We really thought it had a good chance. We talked about that play quite a bit at halftime.”

The Blazers got the opportunity to score after senior running back Hunter Skeens ran for five yards on fourth down and two to give Gardner-Edgerton a fresh set of downs. Skeens would finish with 55 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.

“Hunter Skeens is a heck of a player,” Johns said. “He is incredible. He will fight to get those yards all night long. That’s who he is. “

The big pass play from Johns to May wouldn’t seal the game for good  as more than four minutes remained for the Ravens to try to tie it up.

On the ensuing drive, Olathe Northwest would use a balanced attack to move the ball down the field until Gardner- Edgerton defensive end Zach Bass read a screen pass on the Blazers’ own 21 yard line and used his right-hand to pull in a one-handed interception. Bass returned the ball 56 yards before the Blazers eventually ran out the clock to seal the victory.

“They were throwing the bubble to (receiver Elijah Roland) all night,” Bass said. “I just went thru my steps like I always do. It was just a reaction.”

Diener was pleased to see a senior like Bass step up and make a play to keep the season alive.

“Our kid stepped up and made a play so we could play another day and that’s what the playoffs are all about,” Diener said.

The game began looking as if it may be a defensive battle. Both teams struggled offensively to find points through the first quarter. Neither team was sure about punting into the wind either as they traded fake punts early in the game.

Olathe Northwest would open the game’s scoring when senior quarterback Easton Crupper found junior receiver Joe Hatzfeld for a three-yard touchdown pass.  Gardner-Edgerton would answer with a touchdown before the Ravens ended the first half with a field goal to gain a 9-7 lead.

A three-yard touchdown run from Skeens would give Gardner a lead, before Crupper connected with Roland for a 28-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.

Then the aforementioned big play from the Blazers would win it and send them into the next round to face No. 2 seed Shawnee Mission East next week.

“It’ll be hard work,” Diener said. “We know we’re playing a great football team in Shawnee Mission East. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”