South Upends Liberal to Open 5A Playoffs

The comment is always made by natives of Liberal, Kan.

“That’s the smell of money.”

For Salina South fans, it’s the smell of victory.

Senior running back Tanner Parret rushed for three touchdowns, the defense stymied the Liberal offense, and the Cougars completed the road upset 24-14 to open the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. The win gave South its first road victory of the season.

The start was far from pretty as Salina South senior quarterback Casey Lanoue fumbled the ball inside the five-yard line on the game’s first offense play. Liberal turned to junior fullback Cesar Burciaga for a two-yard plunge into the end zone. The Redskins led 7-0 just 14 seconds into the tilt.

After forcing a punt, the Redskins compiled a lengthy drive that resulted in six points. Sophomore signal caller Syris Dunlap sniffed out the goal line for a three-yard TD, putting Liberal ahead 14-0 with 1:51 remaining in the opening stanza.

Needing a spark, the Cougars turned to their special teams. Senior Ethan Resley blocked Burciaga’s punt, allowing senior linebacker Payton Webb to scoop up the rock and take it to the three of Liberal. Parret capitalized on the opportunity, scoring South’s first TD. The PAT was blocked, trimming the margin to 14-6 at halftime.

South’s defense didn’t stop the intensity. The Cougars forced a fumble, turnover on downs and a punt. Salina South put points on the board after two of those three stops. The first was a 23-yard field goal by senior Fernando Avila-Castro with 6:14 to play in the third. Following the fumble, Avila-Castro misfired on a 31-yard attempt. The third chance put the Cougars ahead for the first time as Parret exploded past the goal line with six seconds left. He added the two-point conversion, putting the Cougars up 17-14.

Despite the change in quarters, the Redskins’ offense continued to struggle. Liberal was held to just 12 offensive yards in the half. Parret sealed the win with a five-yard scamper with 2:47 to go in the game.

Parrett carried the ball 22 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Lanoue added 136 on 21 rushes.

South (3-6) travels to Goddard-Eisenhower next week for the second round of the playoffs. Coverage can be heard on Y93.7 with pregame starting at 6:45.