May 24, 2024

Top-ranked Wichita Northwest rolls past Garden City

Photos by Adam Shrimplin

Garden City, KS-In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the St. Louis Rams, with Kurt Warner Az Akim, Isaac Bruce and Marshall Faulk, were considered the greatest show on turf. That collective group won one Super Bowl and was considered one of the most explosive offensives in NFL history.

That brings us to the present day. And at the high-school level, there is no program in Kansas that has the offensive weaponry of Wichita Northwest. On Friday, the Buffaloes got a first-hand glimpse of the Sunflower-state’s version of the greatest show on turf.

Reagan Jones threw for 219 yards and two scores while running for 148 and three touchdowns, Iowa-State commit Breece Hall added 111 yards on the ground and two scores, and the top-ranked Grizzlies blasted Garden City 61-15 at Buffalo Stadium.

“If scoring 60 points against us, makes them feel better, then so be it,” Head Coach Brian Hill said after the game. “I will keep it at that. I’d like to coach next week.”

The lopsided box score tells a story of a dominant offense, one that appeared unstoppable. But a closer glimpse shows a 12-minute stretch that ended any chance of a Garden City upset.

After Carlos Acosta hit Kaleb Lapointe for a 58-yard touchdown that pulled the Buffaloes to within 19, 34-15, with 10:10 to play in the third, the Grizzlies changed course. Hall became a battering ram with Roy Johnson providing the change of speed. And it was Jones who was the beneficiary.

Midway through the period, the running-back duo threw a few haymakers, which eventually freed Jones, who ran untouched for a 61-yard touchdown that made it 41-15. Following an Acosta interception, Jones darted towards the right sideline; then turned the corner for a 40-yard score. Another Buffalo three-and-out led to Jones attacking Garden City through the air, and the junior quarterback, who transferred from Andover Central this past year, delivered a 61-yard strike to Kale Patterson that put the Grizzlies on top 54-15.

“We know how explosive they were,” Hill said. “But we had guys in position. If you watch their film from the past few games, you see Hall just running free for 60 yards. That wasn’t the case tonight.”

Wichita Northwest capped their magical quarter with a 32-yard touchdown run by Hall. Their final third-period totals: 34 points and 298 total yards, 218 of that coming on the ground.

“We had guys there, but they broke us down,” Hill said. “It was more of a technique thing. “We just haven’t faced a back that is able to change directions like that.”

The Buffaloes’ night started with promise. After getting a first down on their opening drive following a pass interference penalty against the Grizzlies, Garden City proceeded to go backwards with a false start and a holding call that totally derailed any momentum.

Meantime Wichita Northwest seized control on their first possession. On second-and-17 at the Garden City 45, Jones lobbed a pass down the middle for Patterson. Acosta, who was twisting and turning on the play, sprawled out to try and knocked the pass down. Instead, he came up with air, Patterson grabbed the spiral, and sprinted to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

On the Buffaloes next possession, Acosta was picked off by Malcolm Bell, which eventually setup Hall’s one-yard rushing touchdown, that polished off a six-play, 33-yard march that put the Grizzlies up 13-0 (Carson Arndt missed the extra point) with 4:26 to go in the first.

Wichita Northwest extended their margin in the second quarter when Jones put the finishing touches on a 43-yard drive when he crossed the goal line from one yard out.

“In my nine years here, I would have to say that Breece Hall is by far the best back that we have faced,” Hill said. “He’s strong, he’s big; he doesn’t look like he’s moving that fast.”

Trailing 20-0, Garden City found some traction midway through the second. Acosta looped a pass to Lapointe for 29 yards and a personal foul penalty against the Grizzlies, set the Buffaloes up in the red zone. Six plays later, Reece Morss plowed into the end zone, slicing the Wichita Northwest lead to 13 points.

But the Grizzlies quickly retaliated, driving 75 yards in just over a minute. Hall had runs of 23 and 22 before Jones 21-yard sprint set the road team up inside the 10. On first-and-goal, Johnson found a crease and wiggled into the end zone for a five-yard score that pushed the lead to 27-7. Johnson added a 62-yard touchdown run in the first 20 seconds of the third quarter that gave Wichita Northwest a 27-point advantage.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Hill said. “I told them afterwards that I am proud to be their coach. It’s a great bunch of guys who are steadily growing together.

Jones completed 8-of-18 passes for Wichita Northwest, who beat Garden City for the third straight time. Johnson added 108 yards on the ground, and Patterson had three catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Acosta finished 4-of-14 for 135 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions for Garden City before leaving in the second half with a head injury. Morss carried the ball 13 times for 22 and Lapointe had three receptions for 105 and a touchdown.

Next up: Garden City vs. Dodge City-Friday, Oct. 12-6 p.m. kpreps; 6:30 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. kick on 99.9 FM; and KWKR mobile app