The Salina South Cougars have advanced to the state championship football game for the first time since claiming the Class 5A crown in 2004 with a 34-24 win over Kapaun Mt. Carmel at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
The Cougars built as much as a 24-point lead at 34-10, and held on for the win down the stretch.
South started on the right note, as Zach Nachbar took the opening kickoff back 96-yards for a touchdown, giving the Cougars the quick 7-0 lead. After an interception by Avery Mitchell, the Cougars then marched 14 plays over 68 yards, ending with a 3-yard touchdown run by Eric McCullough, pushing the lead to 13-0.
Kapaun answered with a 20-yard field goal by Matthew Wells to make it 13-3, with the score holding to halftime. In the second half, Kapaun fumbled the opening kickoff, giving South the ball at the Crusader 23.
Five plays later, Jones scored from 3-yards out to push the lead to 20-3. After a Kapaun fumble, South would score again quickly. On the fifth play of the drive, Jones ran in a score from 34-yards out to push the lead to 27-3. Kapaun added a touchdown late in the thirddd on a 13-yard pass from Brock Monty to Jack McGrath to cut the lead to 17 at 27-10.
South would turn the ball over on downs at the Kapaun 9 on the next drive, but Kapaun gave it back on a fumble on the next drive. South would score again on an 11-yard run by Jones to lead 34-10 with 7:42 left.
Kapaun would turn it over for the fourth time in the half and fifth time in the game on an interception by Aaron Mar. Kapaun would score twice in the final minute to cut the gap to 34-24.
South was led by Jones’ 21 carries for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Kapaun outgained South 336-296. Salina South will play Blue Valley in next week’s state championship game. It’s a rematch of the week three game between the two, when Blue Valley beat Salina South 35-28 at Salina Stadium.
Pregame coverage begins at 12:40pm next Saturday on Y93.7 with kickoff at 1 o’clock. We’ll have a special look at the Salina South team on Inside High School Football on Friday night from 6 to 7pm on SportsRadio 1150 KSAL.