Pick your poison out of the Derby backfield – Tyler West, Kellen Sims or Devin Peter.
The combination offers a lethal blend. West crunches through the line before bursting ahead. Peter's toxic speed courses through defenses before they can react. Sims shimmies through linebackers when he runs, and just for a little Romeo and Juliet honesty in the final act in the story of the viperous offense he orchestrates, forces defensive backs to cheat up and sets his crosshairs on streaking wide receivers.
Together, the trio accounted for eight touchdowns as the Panthers pounced on Wichita Southeast 55-3.
“We were repping it all week – their backers playing up and playing a 5-2,” said Derby offensive lineman Jordan Hill. “I think we made a good statement tonight.”
There was no relief for Southeast. West opened the game with a five-yard option run for a touchdown. Later, he took a pitch 34 yards for pay dirt. To cap his night, West chugged through the interior before breaking to the right sideline on a 60-yard scamper that put Derby ahead 48-0 at halftime.
West's night ended there, with 135 yards on the ground. He passed credit on to the bulldozers on the line.
“They played great,” West said. “I was almost untouched coming through there every time. The receivers blocked well on the outside, too. Lots of huge holes.”
In West's stead, Peter – who already had a punt return for a touchdown on the night – frazzled the Buffaloes in the second half, darting 56 yards up the turf for a score.
“Devin Peter is a great combination to (West),” said Derby Head Coach Brandon Clark. “He's like a little waterbug.”
Peter is overshadowed by West's do-everything ability, but Peter brings a dose of acceleration that troubles opposing defensive coordinators.
“He's small, but he's fast,” Hill said. “Once he gets on the outside, he's gone.”
Then there is Sims. A wide receiver by name, Sims has had to shift back to his former role as quarterback at times this season due to injuries to starter Chandler Shantz.
The offense did not miss a beat.
Derby ran the ball 85 percent of the time in the first half, including a six-yard score from Sims. The Panthers went to the air three times, and twice Sims delivered heat-seeking missiles for touchdowns – a 31-yarder to Luke Palmer and one to DeAndre Goolsby for 41 yards.
The Panther offense produced six plays that gained 20 yards or more.
On defense, Derby was quietly sturdy behind a ferocious front seven led by linebacker Jose Delgado.
“He is the most humble kid in the world,” Clark said. “He's playing well for us. He's the backbone of the defense.”
Southeast had its moments, including big runs from William Young and Trey Griffin. Young's burst put the Golden Buffaloes (3-4, 0-1 in districts) in field goal territory, as Haltom Jackson booted one for three points in the fourth quarter.
“It's one of those deals that if we ever get that open ground and make one guy miss and not get caught up, it's a better score and a better outcome for us,” said Southeast Head Coach Chris Asmussen.
Derby (6-1, 1-0) showed poise, regrouping after a loss to Hutchinson the week before. The Panthers also started district play with a win, adding comfort in its push for the postseason.
Wichita East is next up for Derby.
“We're just going to fix the little things,” West said. “We have a great coach with a good game plan."