It was clear from the opening snap that Friday’s rematch between northeast Johnson County’s two biggest high schools wasn’t going to look like the blowout Shawnee Mission East had over Shawnee Mission North in week six.
But the Lancers’ balanced offensive attack and stingy defense still proved too much for an Indians squad that had grown leaps and bounds in the final weeks of the season. With a 41-25 victory, the Lancers secured their third trip to substate in head coach Dustin Delaney’s four years at the school, setting up a match up against undefeated Blue Valley with a trip to the state title game on the line next Friday.
Delaney said the unorthodox offense the Indians put out on Friday, which featured a mix of schemes and seemed to steer away from the deep ball attack they tend to rely on, had put his team a bit off balance.
“They threw a whole bunch of different looks and weird stuff at you,” Delaney said. “It’s hard to prepare for that, and hard to play against it, obviously.”
The Indians kept pace with the Lancers through the bulk of the first two quarters, and trailed by just two (on account of two missed point after attempts following touchdowns) with about two minutes to play in the half. But fullback Milton Braasch broke away for a 55-yard touchdown run that put the Lancers ahead 21-12 at the half, and essentially put the game out of reach for the Indians. Braasch finished the night with four touchdowns. Running back Nigil Houston had two.
The loss put an end to the remarkable high school football career of SM North quarterback Will Schneider. The Indians starter since his freshman year, Schneider likely ranks among the all time leaders in Kansas history in total passing yards. Schneider endured a winless season his freshman year before helping the Indians to incremental improvements his sophomore and junior campaigns, seeing the team finish 2-8 and 3-7. This year, however, a core of seniors who had been playing together throughout high school bolstered by the addition of a handful of talented underclassmen propelled the Indians to their first winning season since 2004. The Indians finish the year at 6-5.
“I’m sad I won’t get to coach some of those seniors anymore,” said coach Ben Bartlett, in his third season leading the Indians. “It’s been a hell of a ride. I’m so proud of them. The strides they made this season really is the story for us. How far they’ve come — obviously it’s hard for them to see that right now, they’re sad about the outcome — but we’re going to do our best as coaches to help them see the bigger picture.”
SM East will face Blue Valley at Blue Valley District Stadium on Friday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. The winner will face either Derby or Lawrence Free State for the state 6A title.