DeSoto makes quick work of Fort Scott

By Kyle Palmer PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: November 10, 2017 - 11:48 PM

DeSoto gave Head Coach Brian King his birthday wish: a rematch with Bishop Miege.

King’s Wildcats drubbed Fort Scott 49-13 in the Kansas Class 4A-1 quarterfinals Friday night, setting up a sub-state rematch with the three-time defending state champion Stags, who three weeks ago handed DeSoto their only loss of the season.

The memory still sticks with King.

“We were shaking hands with them then, and their players were saying, ‘See you in four weeks.’ And we were hoping to get back here and put ourselves in a position to do that,” King said, moments after his players serenaded him with ‘Happy Birthday’ in the post-game huddle at chilly DeSoto High School.  

The way the Wildcats played Friday, they seemed overly anxious to set up the rematch. This one got out of hand quickly.

Exavier Jackson electrified the home crowd on the game’s second play, stepping in front of a pass by Fort Scott’s Jesse Jones and sprinting 45 yards for a pick-6 and the game’s first score.

“We got rolling early. Our kids have done that lately,” King said. “We watched tape of them running hitch [routes], and our defensive coaches put our players in position to make the play.”

DeSoto then struck on their first offensive play from scrimmage. After a 34-yard punt return by Brayden Brummer set up the Wildcats deep in Fort Scott territory, senior quarterback Bryce Mohl kept it on the option for a 20-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.

Barely 2:30 half minutes had gone off the clock.

“It was huge for us, huge to get us momentum going into Miege,” Mohl said. “We wanted to get back to them. We are a very confident team right now.”

Already up two scores, DeSoto continued to run away with the first half.

Later in the 1st quarter, after a Fort Scott fumble, Mohl connected with a wide open Trevor Watts for a 24-yard touchdown pass to put the Wildcats up 21-0.

“We came out and knew we needed to control he football and keep it away from their explosive offense and our turnovers put us in a big hole. We weren’t able to recover from that,” Fort Scott coach Bob Campbell said.

In the 2nd quarter, Mohl hooked up with Connor Strouse for a 35-yard score. Then, he hit Brummer for a 64-yard strike.

Mohl finished 5-of-6 for 174 yards, four touchdown passes and a rushing score.

“We had all the time in the world back there. I love my offensive line,” Mohl said.

On the other side of the ball, senior linebacker Jack Barger ruled the day. He was seemingly everywhere, credited with two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and at least one pass batted down.

“We knew it was going to be a smash mouth game. We wanted to shut down their running game. Once their running back [Zerek Fewell] gets started, he’s hard to stop,” Barger said.

The Tigers’ Fewell came into the game averaging nearly 190 yards rushing per game. He was held to just over 80 yards on the night and had a late touchdown.

In the second half, with the game well in-hand, Barger added to his stat line. This time, on the offensive side. He caught Mohl’s fourth touchdown strike, a 14-yard fade to the back of the end zone.

It was his first touchdown of the season.

After the game, all Barger could think about was what this win meant for the DeSoto program. It’s the first time the Wildcats have advanced this far in the postseason since the school made the state championship game in the late 1970s.

“The last two years we had disappointment in the playoffs,” Barger said. “To get these [playoff] wins, I’m so happy. I’m happy it hasn’t ended yet.”

Their reward? The Stags: the team many consider the best all-around squad in Kansas prep football.

Happy birthday, indeed.

DeSoto will host Bishop Miege next Friday with a trip to the Kansas Class 4A-I championship on the line. Fort Scott ends their season 8-3.