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G-E Blazes Way to Title Game

By Weston Wertzberger, 810 Varsity, 11/20/22, 1:30PM CST


Gardner-Edgerton coasts to first state title game since 2009

For years, Gardner-Edgerton has been trying to repeat the golden years when Bubba Starling and Traevohn Wrench-led teams took the Trailblazers to the 5A state semifinals four years in a row back in 2008-2011. Well, head coach Jesse Owen was able to do that with three impressive wins at home to be in the Class 6A Final Four.

On Friday night against Olathe Northwest, running back Dawson Kindler and the Blazers earned their biggest and largest win in the postseason with a dominating 56-7 win to advance to the Kansas 6A State Championship Game next Saturday for the first time in school history.

"It feels pretty good. I need to process a lot. I'm very happy for the players and the community. I'm excited," said Gardner Edgerton coach Jesse Owen.


Dawson Kindler ran for an outstanding 29 carries and paid for it with 125 yards against the Olathe Northwest defense and four touchdowns. He wasn't the only 100-yard rusher, as Dylan Rutash ran 11 carries for 100 yards with a touchdown. Zaine Mayfield also added another rushing touchdown to seal the deal in the fourth quarter.


"We have a tough O-line and tough backs. They're really good at blocking, and I just follow them," said Dawson Kindler.


Now for the passing, Connor Elder went 2/2 for 59 yards with two touchdowns as he first found Bravin Powell for 39 yards and then Austin Buie on the final drive of the first half for a wide-open 20-yard reception to give Gardner Edgerton the lead at the half, 35-7.


Olathe Northwest's lone score came with 4:15 remaining in the second, trailing 28-0 when Cooper Carley found Micah Geary open down the middle and made his way for the touchdown to decrease the deficit 28-7.


"Olathe Northwest is a good football team. They're playing well and were here for a reason. I'm proud of our guys because they were ready to play," said Cooper Carley.


Gardner Edgerton's defense and special teams went big early. In the first quarter, after Bravin Powell's touchdown, the special teams recovered an onside kick from a pooch-kick, resulting in a 5-yard touchdown for Dawson Kindler.


For the defense, Eli Porter put on a show with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He picked his first interception at the end of the second quarter, then another one thrown by Cooper Carley both times to run it 72 yards down the field to the ONW 10-yard line with 8:02 to go in the fourth quarter. Zaine Mayfield earned his only touchdown for 2 yards after the turnover.


"That's what our defense has been doing, so I hope they can keep it up. They're dialed in right now and are pretty focused. Hopefully, we can keep it going," said Jesse Owen.


Olathe Northwest ended its season with a record of 8-4 and had a seven-game winning streak before this game, which are both school records. Their state semifinal appearance was the first in school history, with notable wins against Olathe South in Regionals and Olathe West in Sectionals. Still, their magical playoff run has come to an end.


For Gardner Edgerton, they now ride with a record of 9-3 and are looking to win their first state championship in school history. They will face Manhattan (12-0) at Emporia State's Welch Stadium next Saturday at 1 pm. Manhattan defeated Derby in the 6A West side of the bracket 28-23 to end Derby's streak of 7 consecutive Sub-State titles.


Remember that Jesse Owen's squad last year went 4-6 with a loss in Regionals vs. Manhattan with a score of 38-35. In Owen's second year as head coach, he hopes to go all big and make history with a revenge win for the Championship.


"We'll have to be extremely prepared and ready to go. We're just thankful that we have the opportunity to play," said Jesse Owen.

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