With five touchdowns to his name, Topeka quarterback Raymond Solis was as humble as could be after the game, but added a tablespoon of swagger.
“I can't really say much about myself,” Solis said. “I just let the audience tell me how I do.”
Judging by the roars from the Topeka stands and the relative silence across the field in the Wichita Northwest cheering section, Solis did quite well for himself.
With a massive offensive line paving his path, Solis diced up the Northwest offense for more than 200 yards on the ground and 75 through the air in route to a 42-13 victory in the first round of the 6A postseason.
“Our offensive line gave it 100 percent, all they had,” Solis said. “They've been playing like that all year. It was just big plays. They decided to step up even bigger.”
Solis walked in touchdown runs of five and 26 yards in the first half to put the Trojans ahead 14-0 at the break. Northwest's offense sputtered, never getting closer than Topeka's 34 yard line.
“They ran a good defense. It's no mystery whether we're going to run the ball or pass the ball here,” said Northwest head coach Steve Martin. “We have to rely on the running game. That's who we are.”
Solis scampered 38 yards up the right side to give Topeka a 21-point cushion in the third quarter. Northwest later responded after a fumble recovery gave the Grizzlies the ball at Topeka's seven yard line. Deron Thompson poked in a four-yard score after three plays to trim the deficit to 21-6.
On the next drive, Solis responded with a 12-yard aerial strike to Austin Tillman on fourth-and-nine to push Topeka ahead 28-6.
Eli Weinbrecht added a touchdown on Topeka's next drive to give Topeka a safe 35-6 lead. Brendan Johnson pounded in a touchdown for Northwest, but Solis put the icing on the playoff win cake with a 41-yard rumble to the end zone for his fourth rushing touchdown and a 42-13 win.
“Raymond did a great job reading tonight and taking what the defense was giving us. He's a 220 pound kid, but he can run,” said Topeka head coach Walt Alexander. “He doesn't look fast, because he's so big.”
The Trojan defense held Thompson to 83 yards rushing, of which 44 came on one play.
“They dominated the line of scrimmage. That team we played right there is three-time state powerlifting champions in 6A,” Martin said. “The reason I know that is because I was the runner-up to them for three years. Coach Alexander has built that program from the ground up – and that's where we will get.”
Northwest finished 6-4 in its first run with Martin at the helm.
“These seniors, they fought their butts off,” Martin said. “When you take over a program, those seniors can either fight you or go with you. This group of seniors went with us.”
The Trojans (9-1) are rewarded for their playoff triumph with a home date against the powerhouse Hutchinson Salthawks on Nov. 9.
“It doesn't get any better than that,” Alexander said. “That's something special to our community, to get a playoff game at home. If it's going to be the best team in Kansas over the last decade, so be it.”