The pass sliced through the air, a bullet pass, perfectly on-target for the SM West receiver. He crouched slightly to rope in the catch, already eyeing the end zone from his position on the 10 yard line.
Then, suddenly, he was slammed to the ground. Senior Sam Huffman dove into the receiver, knocking the ball loose. The student section roared. On fourth down, Huffman narrowly stopped SM West on their first — and last — serious offensive drive. But even when the Vikings marched down to the Lancers’ 20 yard line, the defense held strong, cementing a 41-0 shutout that forwarded East to the next round of playoffs.
At the core of the win was the Lancer defense, led by Huffman and senior defensive end Kyle Ball. Ball and the defensive line launched an attack in the SM West backfield, roping in multiple sacks and stuffing running plays at the line of scrimmage. When West’s offense tried to adjust and ignite a passing offense, Huffman was there to bat down passes and provide the tight coverage needed to keep a clean slate.
“The secondary was on fire tonight and they kept it so there were no big plays on defense,” Ball said. “We are pumped to play Olathe North again, so next week we are going to have some really focused practices.”
On the other side of the ball was the Lancer offense, which currently leads the Sunflower League in points scored in a single season. Early on, senior quarterback Gunnar Englund brought a spark to the Lancer rushing game. In the first quarter, Englund faked a pitch and dove into a hole in the offensive line. After dodging two tackles, he cut inside and sprinted 40 yards to notch the Lancers’ second touchdown.
With a 12-0 lead, Englund partnered with junior Wyatt Edmisten to rack up the points using the Lancers’ running game. Edmisten pounded up the gut of the field for short, physical gains that consistently moved the offense forward for first downs. When the middle of the field was clogged up, Englund pitched the ball outside to Huffman and senior Jackson Gossick, who ran the outsides of the field for multiple touchdowns.
With temperatures dipping below 30 degrees, catching the football was difficult, and Englund only threw a handful of receptions throughout the game. But between pitching the ball to Huffman and running up the gut of the field with Edmisten, Englund’s offense stayed in rhythm for all four quarters.
“Everyone played well tonight,” Englund said. “Our defense shut them out and our offense was firing on all cylinders. It was an all around good game.”