If you told Bishop Miege senior receiver Jafar Armstrong when he was a freshman that he’d have a chance at three straight titles, he would have looked at you like you were a crazy person.
But here the Stags are, one win away from a third straight title and all that stands in their way is Buhler — the last team to win a Class 4A state title not named Bishop Miege and that was in 2013 when the Stags were in Class 5A.
“Going into your freshman year, you’re just trying to get on the field,” Armstrong said. “You’re not worried about championships. It’s just a blessing because I came to Miege for that reason. Coach told me we had a chance to play in a lot of big games and this is the biggest game of them all.”
Armstrong and Landry Weber pose to be big threats on the outside as they’ve combined for 2,165 yards receiving and 37 touchdowns.
Buhler coach Stever Warner said his team will need to try and eliminate the big plays from those two. He added the key will be to have long, sustained drives on offense to limit the amount of snaps by Miege.
“We can’t turn the ball over,” Warner said.
He said his front seven on defense is very good. They’re athletic and strong and are able to get leverage on the offensive line. He added the offensive line and Dalton Brown are also strengths of this team. Brown is closing in on 2,000 yards rushing.
“They work well together, they communicate well,” Warner said. “They’ve been physical and Dalton reads the hole well and makes things happen for us when there’s nothing there.”
The Stags have been able to stop good running attacks all season. They saw it in the Eastern Kansas League, they saw it in districts and they saw it the last three weeks in the playoffs, which included shutting out undefeated Basehor-Linwood in the semifinals.
Miege coach Jon Holmes said it was huge for the defenses confidence. They said before the game they wanted to keep them less than 20 points.
“Defense has to get the offense off the field,” Holmes said. “Buhler does an excellent job running the football. Maize South had four offensive snaps in the first quarter last week. We have to have more than four. We need to maximize our points and try and score on every possession.”
Buhler has a few vertical threats in the pass game and they’ll set that up with running the ball a lot and then hit defenses with the play-action.
Holmes thinks the way Armstrong and Weber are playing that one will be open every snap especially since Holmes has seen Buhler on film line up playing man-to-man coverage with little help over the top.
The drive to Topeka for Buhler is a little farther than Miege’s, but Warner expects to have a large crowd.
“There’s 140 members of the band there,” Warner said. “When we went to Salina three years ago, there weren’t enough seats for everybody. Our fans travel well and we’ll have a great crowd.”
Prediction: Bishop Miege 35, Buhler 17