Revenge doesn't seem appropriate, but redemption sure does. Wichita Heights topped Derby twice last season, once in Week 9 to win a district title, and again in the postseason to end the season for Derby. This year, it was the Panthers taking home the title.
Heights scored 15 points in the last 10:30 to force overtime on Friday night, only to have the Panthers prevail in overtime.
Derby appeared for be cruising after Chandler Shantz’ 8-yard touchdown run, but the Falcons were able to play catch up on the ground. Forlanda Parker finished a quick 2:30 drive with a 25-yard run to cut the score to 15-7.
The Panthers weren’t able to sustain a drive, giving Heights the ball back with 4:29 left. Eight points and 90 yards away, the Falcons went to work. Three runs produced a first down, then Parker dropped back and floated a pass far down the right sideline.
A streaking Chris Reed settled underneath it and 74 yards later Heights was, shockingly, within two points of the lead. An encroachment penalty moved the ball just outside the one, from there Prentice Byrd punched it in to tie the game and force overtime.
Derby won the toss and elected to defend the first possession in overtime. Heights hit a pass on third down to the two-yard line, but the ball was knocked loose from Reed, giving the Panthers the ball at the 10-yard line, needing only a field goal to win the game. Instead, Shantz took three plays to get to the end zone, scoring up the middle from a yard out.
The touchdown sparked a hearty celebration for Derby, which claimed the district championship and with it the top seed for the west in 6A.
“It’s great to win these close games”, said Derby Coach Brandon Clark. “I’m not sure we played that well, but I was proud of how our kids competed.”
Derby hosts surprising Wichita North in next Friday’s opening round of the playoffs.
Heights, which fumbled 6 times and turned it over three, heads to Hutchinson for a very intriguing first round matchup of two of the state’s preeminent programs.