There must have been some competitive advantage that led Derby to its 49-0 victory over Campus. With the game in the books, Derby linebacker Ben Becker admitted it when he fessed up that quarterback Chandler Shantz is not like everyone else on the field.
“He's a machine. I don't understand him at all,” Becker said, baffled by Shantz' talents and willingness to initiate contact.
Shantz' otherworldly qualities were verified when he denied the opportunity for the spotlight. After a night where he contributed four rushing touchdowns and one more through the air, he deflected any personal recognition onto his teammates.
“Our offensive line really stepped up this week,” Shantz said. “We had huge holes to run through. That was a big part. I definitely can't take any of that credit, because anybody could have scored with the holes they were putting out there.”
Not even for his touchdown pass?
“DeAndre (Goolsby), on that last touchdown catch, I just threw a screen and he did the rest,” Shantz said. “We just had holes to run through.”
Whether he takes the praise or not, Shantz was the catalyst for a Derby offense that systematically picked apart Campus early and often.
In the first quarter, Shantz smashed in a nine-yard touchdown and another from 12 yards out for a 14-0 lead. Within four minutes of the second, he had tacked on 13 and two yard scores for a commanding 28-0 edge. His 11-yard toss to Goolsby sent the Panthers into halftime up 35-0.
All the while, Derby's defense harassed Campus' offense. An early fumble recovery by Becker gave Derby a short field on its first drive and gave the Panthers momentum it would never relinquish.
“If one good thing happens, it just leads to more good things,” Becker said.
The Panthers flashed their depth in the second half, as Devin Peter – a backup running back only because he plays behind another premiere talent, Tyler West – made the most of his playing time.
After a Campus drive stalled to start the third quarter, Peter hauled the punt 63 yards up the right sideline for a score. In the fourth, he added a dazzling 44-yard dash to the end zone on a jet sweep to put Derby ahead by 49.
Ross Anderson gave the Colts an opportunity when he recovered a fumble early in the fourth quarter. However, David Tullis picked off a Campus pass three plays later.
Derby (5-0) showed no signs of overlooking the Colts (0-5) as it heads into a highly-anticipated showdown with Hutchinson (3-2) next Friday.
“We talked about winning every battle tonight and winning every battle in practice,” said Brandon Clark, Derby head coach. “This team truly believes it. We buy into it. They're doing a good job of coming to practice prepared.
“They're not going to overlook a game.”
Behind Shantz, the offense is rolling, assaulting opponents with 42 points per game. The defense has pitched three shutouts. However, it remains unclear if the Panthers can do the same against a perennial state title contender.
“We just have to win the day every day,” Becker said. “I haven't beat Hutch in my entire high school career, and nobody else in my grade has either. It's our senior year. It's our time.”