Southeast of Saline dominates unbeaten Ellsworth for 2A district title
GYPSUM, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - The teams matched up on paper. Southeast of Saline has been ranked atop Class 2A since moving to the smaller division. Ellsworth opened the season at 7-0 after allowing just six points through the first five weeks of the season. But for the District 5 championship game Friday, it all Trojans. Southeast of Saline led 30-0 before adding two more scores in the final 2:39 of the second half en route to a 46-7 win.
“I felt like we had good focus this week in practice,” said SES coach Mitch Gebhardt. “Maybe we haven’t had that all season long, but I felt like our kids were locked in. We understood that Ellsworth is a good football team. I think we took a huge step forward this week.”
Southeast took the ball first and needed just six plays before, facing third down, junior Nathan Friesen got to the outside for a 36-yard run just 73 seconds in. The Trojans needed a pair of third-down conversions on their next drive before senior quarterback Luke Gebhardt broke through the middle for a 15-yard score. The Trojan lead doubled to 16-0 just seven minutes in.
Ellsworth punted on each of its first five possessions in the first half. The Trojan defense held the Bearcats to just 46 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first two quarters, and junior quarterback Will Cravens completed just four of his 12 pass attempts in the first half for 32 yards.
SES, meanwhile, was just getting warmed up. Luke Gebhardt found senior Jake Gebhardt for touchdown passes of 11, 11, and 17 yards on the next three Trojan possessions.
Quick Ellsworth possessions opened the door for more scoring in the final two minutes. The Gebhardt’s connected on their final strike with 57 ticks left, then senior Landen Allen snuck behind the Bearcat defense on the first play of a drive that opened with just half a minute to play in the half. That play went 43 yards to set up a running clock for the second half at 46-0.
Ellsworth did get on the board in the second half thanks to a 6-yard touchdown pass from Cravens to junior Cole Webber. Cravens finished the night with 63 yards on 7-of-19 passing. Junior Loden West ran the ball 12 times for 47 yards.
Luke Gebhardt finished a huge night with 281 yards and the four touchdowns on 18-of-24 passing, all in the first half. He added 33 yards and another score on seven carries. Allen caught six balls for 116 yards and a score, and Jake Gebhardt finished with 62 yards and three touchdowns on his five receptions. Friesen tacked on 82 yards on 14 carries.
At 8-0, Southeast of Saline stays home to open the Class 2A playoffs next Friday against Haven.
“I think we’re excited,” Coach Gebhardt said. “We get a home game. That’s what you work for throughout the season, to have a home game. I think our kids our excited to have that. We have to have a great week of preparation next week so that we’re ready to go.”
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