Following two road victories to begin the 2019 football season, the Ell-Saline Cardinals returned home Friday evening to host the Hutchinson Trinity Celtics in their home opener. While the venues have changed throughout the first three weeks of the season, the result was the same: Ell-Saline rolled to a shutout victory over its opponent.
While the Cardinal defense has kept opponents off the scoreboard, the Ell-Saline offense has efficiently managed to churn out points, outscoring its first three opponents by a combined total of 115-0. On Friday night, the Cardinals found paydirt on each of its first three possessions.
Ell-Saline put together an 11-play, 72-yard touchdown drive on its first offensive series, with senior tailback Sawyer Kramer capping it off with a 19-yard touchdown run to give the Cardinals a 7-0 advantage with 1:59 remaining in the opening quarter.
On Trinity’s next possession, junior quarterback Caleb Hammeke was picked off by Kramer, setting Ell-Saline up at the Celtic 30-yard line. Five plays later, junior quarterback T.J. Morrical called his own number on an option read, rushing it in for a 13-yard touchdown to put Ell-Saline ahead 14-0.
It wouldn’t take long for the Cardinal defense to strike again. On the first play of the Celtics’ next drive, Ell-Saline forced a fumble, recovered by junior Eli Hopkins to give the Cardinals the ball at the Trinity 23-yard line. Eight plays later, senior tailback Luke Parks plunged into the end zone from a yard out to give Ell-Saline a 21-0 lead with 6:29 to play before halftime.
Both defenses held serve over the next 14 minutes of action before the Cardinal defense put the game out of reach for good. Facing fourth down from the Ell-Saline 40-yard-line, Trinity went to the air, but Parks hauled in the pick and took it 71 yards to the house. Following a missed extra point, the Cardinals led 27-0.
For the game’s final tally, the Ell-Saline rushing attack grounded out a 15-play, 74-yard drive taking nearly seven minutes off the clock before Morrical rolled out to his left and won the race to the pylon for an 8-yard touchdown run, giving the Cardinals the 34-0 win.
Ell-Saline (3-0) racked up 288 total yards of offense in the win over Trinity (2-1,) 230 of those coming on the ground. Parks led the way with 20 carries for 77 yards, while Kramer added 69 rushing yards on 11 totes.
Morrical rushed six times for 29 yards while going 3-for-4 through the air for 58 yards passing. Kramer hauled in two grabs for 48 yards to lead the Cardinal receiving corps.
Ell-Saline will try to defend its home turf again next Friday night in one of Class 1-A’s marquee matchups in Week 4, playing host to the undefeated Sedgwick Cardinals. Sedgwick cruised to a Week 3 victory Friday evening against Sterling.