In November 2014, Shawnee Mission East’s football team lined up on the two-and-a-half yard line with their season on the line: Convert the two-point attempt, and they’d advance. Fail, and their season would be over.
It appears head coach Dustin Delaney’s philosophy hasn’t changed much in two years.
Facing a one-point deficit to Gardner Edgerton after running back Milton Braasch punched in his third touchdown of the night with just 33 seconds in regulation, Delaney opted to have his offense try for the two-point conversion and the likely win. Miss the goal line, however, and the Lancers’ 2016 campaign would come to an end.
After the Lancers drew the Trailblazers offsides to shorten the field even further, quarterback Luke Kaiser handed the ball off to Braasch, who barreled through the defensive line for the game-winning score.
Here’s the play:
“In our offense, if we can’t get two-and-a-half yards, we probably don’t deserve to win a football game,” Delaney said after time expired a few minutes later, with students rushing onto the field all around the team.
Just like the game that propelled the Lancers over Olathe North to earn a spot in the championship back in 2014, the final score was 36-35.
Gardner Edgerton came into the game a heavy underdog, coming in as the 10th seed in the 6A eastern playoff bracket and entering the playoffs with a 3-5 record. But they took care of Olathe Northwest last week with a 23-16 win, and caught the Lancers off-guard in the opening minutes of Friday’s contest. The Trailblazers scored on their first possession when tight end Gage Gully hauled in a pass for a touchdown. They opened up a 14-0 lead minutes later when defensive back Michael Kittleson picked off a pass from Kaiser and returned it to the endzone.
The Lancers hung around largely on account of a few breakaway plays — a 72 yard catch-and-run from Lancer receiver Sky Tate that tied the game at 14 and a 57-yard touchdown run from Braasch that made it 21-20 Lancers. But Gardner Edgerton was able to contain the Lancers’ offense in a way no team but Rockhurst, which beat SM East 26-20 in week four, had this season. Aside from that anomaly, the Lancers’ offense has been nearly unstoppable all year, putting up no fewer than 45 points per game. Delaney gave credit both to Gardner Edgerton for putting pressure on his team, and for his team for keeping its cool when it found itself trailing in the fourth quarter.
“[The team] responded well — we found a way to win,” he said. “Gardner’s a fantastic team. I thought so on film. They play really, really hard, and quite honestly they outcoached us. Hats off to those guys, they did a great job.”
The victory earns SM East a Regional trophy, and advances the Lancers to the Sectional round next week, where they’ll face district rival SM North, who knocked off Lawrence on the road 52-49. When SM East and SM North met in the regular season, the Lancers ran away with a 77-26 win.