Victoria’s great QB/RB duo leads to signature win
GRAINFIELD, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - In 2018, Victoria running back Jayvon Pruitt paired with Knight senior quarterback Cooper Windholz during the regular season. In Week 9, Grant Schoenrock took over after a Windholz injury. Last season, Pruitt and Schoenrock paired together and continually worked in practice on the Knights' option.
They started with the correct steps and then frequently ran at full speed. In Pruitt’s eyes, the duo clicked once he started to trust Schoenrock 100 percent. This fall, the duo formed one of the most talented and experienced backfields in all classes.
On Friday, the partnernship yielded a signature 44-26 road victory against Wheatland-Grinnell in the Eight-Man, Division II state quarterfinals.
“We are like brothers,” Schoenrock said. “We are just connected. We know who’s going where.”
On a cold evening, the physical Pruitt rushed 29 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns. W-G changed its defense. Schoenrock delivered 20 carries for 110 yards and three scores. He also passed for 36 yards and a score and collected an interception on defense. Pruitt is the team’s verbal leader, and Schoenrock is the quiet, consistent presence.
“We put in a five-front this week in hopes of honoring the dive that Pruitt runs so hard,” W-G coach Jesse Vincent said. “And we knew that what we’d be giving up with that was Schoenrock around the end, and that’s kind of ended up what hurt us probably more than anything.”
Victoria received strong play from its supporting cast, including much improved sophomore 205-pound guard Tanis Brungardt. Senior center Trenton Engel has fought through an ankle injury.
“Trenton being back was huge,” Schoenrock said. “I always love it when Trenton’s on the line, and Tanis is good. He’s going to get better.”
Coach Doug Oberle believed Victoria’s interior offensive line and veer game could be a strength. Sophomore Carson Werth delivered 72 offensive yards and a touchdown.
“In the summer, (Brungardt) was really far away from being a Friday night football player,” Oberle said. “And Tanis has worked his tail off and earned the opportunity to be out on the field at guard. He’s a big kid for us. He does a nice job in our scheme. He’s an intelligent guy. I’d like to get a little more fire from him, but Tanis Brungardt from August to Tanis Brungardt in November is two totally different players, and it’s a credit to him.”
The Knights finished 4 of 6 on two-point conversions, while Wheatland-Grinnell was 1 of 4. Pruitt had a pair of the conversions, including one where he broke two tackles.
“We wanted to establish Jayvon,” Oberle said. “We thought we could hit them with the veer a little bit.”
Third-ranked Victoria improved to 11-0 and bumped into the state semifinals for the first time since it won back-to-back Division II state titles in ’14-15.
Then, Victoria moved up to Division I for four straight seasons and posted a collective 25-13 record before it moved back to Division II this fall. Victoria will face the winner of Caldwell and No. 1-ranked St. Francis in Saturday’s contest in next week’s semifinals. The Knights have won 35 straight games when they play in the Division II classification.
Wheatland-Grinnell completed the best season in school history at 8-3. Victoria never trailed and led 8-0 after the first quarter and 24-6 at halftime, though the Thunderhawks kept battling.
“We’ve been a second half team all year,” coach Vincent said. “For whatever reason we could never start, and that was kind of the case again tonight. And only against teams that are this good, you just can’t start late.”
Overall, Schoenrock has passed for 695 yards and rushed for 992. He cleared 100 yards for the sixth time this fall. Pruitt has 918 rushing yards and easily set his season high Friday.
“This was everything that I have been dreaming about for four years of high school,” Pruitt said. This is the first time we’ve actually got to get to this point in my high school career, so yeah, it was amazing, it was fun. Everything that I’d hoped it be."
In the Round of 16, he delivered 150 yards versus Sylvan-Lucas. Oberle said Pruitt has “great ability” and “we need to get the ball in his hands.”
“I’d say it makes it so effective because you’ve got to choose between me and Grant, and we are both such great targets,” Pruitt said of the offense. “We bring so much to the game, both of us. … Chose wrong, it’s over.”
Wheatland-Grinnell often ran spread with junior quarterback Trey Vincent. W-G had senior Trevor Zarybnicky, a standout fullback/linebacker, as the lead blocker for junior Isaac Mendez. Zarybnicky cleared 400 career tackles Friday and is one of five seniors.
Vincent finished 14 of 26 for 135 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. Mendez recorded 20 carries for 138 yards, including a 49-yard rushing TD.
“Zarybnicky kid was really good tonight,” Oberle said. “Both sides of the ball. Played great.”
Victoria led 36-20 when Schoenrock, on multiple efforts, scored from three yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We preach it,” Oberle said. “We are not a big team. We have to earn everything that we get, and there’s times that you are going to get hit, and you are going to stop, and you have got to find a way, especially extra points. We have been so horrible at extra points all year, especially the last half of the year. We put a good emphasis on it, and both those kids run hard, and they are going to give us everything that they’ve got.”
Two plays later, Vincent found senior Johnny Phillips on a 71-yard touchdown pass that could have closed the game to one score. Instead, Phillips was called for offensive pass interference, which negated the play.
“We just saw that we were able to get behind him over and over again,” coach Vincent said. “If we just could get Trey enough time to set his feet. It just came back on us.”
“I thought it was a good call,” Oberle added. “I thought the officiating tonight was good.”
With 4:51 left, Mendez returned a fumble 43 yards for a score, but WG missed the conversion.
Then, Schoenrock and Pruitt sealed the win.
Schoenrock rushed for 11 yards, followed by carries of 16 and three yards from Pruitt.
“Let Grant make the read and make the play,” Pruitt said.
After a Thunderhawk timeout, Schoenrock scored on a 20-yard run. Victoria lengthened the lead to three scores when Schoenrock found Klein for a conversion pass.
First half, “Jayvon, it was his time,” Oberle said. “They were giving us the dive, the veer. They shut that down, and then Grant knows that ‘OK, now they’ve stopped him, this is what I am going to do.’ And they both know that they are both going to be successful if the other one’s successful. They communicate well.”
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