The Salina Central football team had the task of trying to pull an upset for the ages against the top ranked team in Class 5A, the Wichita Northwest Grizzlies, on Friday night in Wichita. Although it was Halloween Eve and a full moon rising from the eastern skies as the game kicked off, there was not nearly enough voodoo or magic in the air to aid the Mustangs in their cause. Northwest racked up nearly 600 yards of offense including over 500 on the ground, which paced them to a 68-12 victory.
The tone was set right away. The Mustangs got the ball and quickly went three-and-out. Northwest started their first drive on their own 48, and the Grizzlies needed only one play as tailback Julius Bolden sprinted around the left end for a 52-yard touchdown. Northwest led 7-0 just 59 seconds into the contest.
The Grizzlies showcased an incredible display of team speed in every aspect. From running a play to then getting lined up in a matter of seconds to snap the ball again, to actually running their plays with quickness and physicality, and defensively, their ability to get in position and pursue the football was a sight to behold.
Bolden added another touchdown on Northwest’s ensuing drive and the rotating quarterback combo of Mason Ross and Geremiah Moore led the Grizzlies to a 21-0 lead after one quarter.
In the second quarter, after falling behind 28-0, Central’s Logan Losey returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Grizzly 36. Later, on a 4th-and-10 play, quarterback Parker Kavanagh threw to Losey who made a tough catch while being hit to pick up the first down. The drive was capped with another Kavanagh to Losey connection, a 10-yard touchdown toss to get the Mustangs on the board. But Northwest just kept coming. Big play after big play staked them to a 42-6 lead with under two minutes to go before halftime.
The Mustangs looked to move the ball downfield before the break, but Kavanagh’s pass went off the hands of Hayden Vidricksen and was intercepted by Joziah Hill. The return set up another Grizzly score when LJ Phillips found the endzone from a yard out, and the hosts were in total command, up 49-6 at the half.
The Grizzlies picked up right where they left off, tallying two more touchdowns on short drives for a 62-6 lead. Most of the second half was played with a running clock.
Each side scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs got theirs when Kavanagh found Vidricksen wide open over the middle for a 49-yard connection.
Unofficially, the Grizzlies (7-0) outgained the Mustangs (1-8) in yardage, 588-197. Northwest advances to play City League rival Wichita Heights next week while Central will look to regroup and improve in the offseason.