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G-E Blazes to first state title

By 810 Varsity, 11/25/23, 4:15PM CST


Trailblazers come back to beat Derby, 22-19, in 6A championship

Gardner-Edgerton made sure to return from Emporia with the state title trophy this year.

The Trailblazers topped Kansas perennial power Derby on a snow-filled field in Emporia, 22-19, to take the Kansas Class 6A title on Saturday. Last year, Gardner-Edgerton fell just short in double overtime, 21-20, to Manhattan.

"We were two yards from the end zone to win it all last year," recalled quarterback Bravin Powell.  "All summer long, we had to go extra. It showed and was a great year." 

After Derby (11-2) took a 13-0 lead, Gardner-Edgerton eventually got the offense going after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave the Trailblazers the ball at its 45. Two big runs by senior Dylan Butash and quarterback Bravin Powell set G-E inside the Derby 15. Then Powell eventually scored on a spinning 5-yard keeper for a 13-7 deficit with 2:52 left in the half.

Following back-and-forth stalled drives, eventually Gardner took over at its own 17 with under three minutes in the third period. Three plays later, Powell threw deep and connected with Colton Hawkinson over the shoulder around midfield, then the senior took off down the left sideline for a 65-yard score with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

Senior Mark Debiak blocked a Derby punt attempt, and took in Derby territory at the end of the third. Then Powell led off the fourth period with a 27-yard keeper for a touchdown. Following an encroachment penalty, G-E went for two and Powell found the end zone again for a 22-13 lead with 11:53 left. Powell finished with 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns, as well as 105 passing yards and a score.

Derby came back on a drive which included a key fourth down conversion in the G-E red zone, then a Derek Hubbard diving touchdown with 9:12 left for a 22-19 deficit.

Gardner-Edgerton (12-1) sealed the game after a 64-yard punt, a near strip-sack for a loss and a double-pass penalty calling back a big flea flicker resulted in a three-and-out for Derby. Gardner-Edgerton took over and ran out the clock for the title - the first in Trailblazers history.

" We had something to prove no matter the cost. Defense was tremendous, the O-line gave everything they had. It just shows the heart of this program and bring home the first state championship in this school," Powell stated.

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