DERBY, Kan. (KWCH) Derby Quarterback Hunter Igo remembers this day last year all too well.
Nov, 24, 2018; Emporia, Kansas, USA; The Derby Panthers played OP Blue Valley North for the 6A State Championship in Emporia, Kansas. ©Kelly Ross
The then Junior was walking off of the field following a loss to Blue Valley North in the 6A state championship game. Igo, who stepped in after starting quarterback Grant Adler after a season ending injury led the Panthers to another state appearance but fell short.
Fast forward a year later and the tide has turned for the Panthers, beating Blue Valley North 24-16 to reclaim the crown in 6A
Graham Mertz is good. REALLY good. The Wisconsin commit showcased why he is an All-American and one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
Mertz started the scoring in the Saturday rematch with an impressive 24 yard strike to Cameron Burt over the Panthers secondary. Mertz mixed his athletic ability and football IQ to push the Panther defense more than it had been all season.
The Panther defense responded, only allowing Mertz to find the end zone twice, forcing him out of the pocket on numerous occasions, even tallying a few sacks on the day.
Tre Washington put together an impressive game, with some issues securing the ball. The Derby running back found lanes and escaped to the outside on numerous occasions but also had trouble holding on to the football.
Washington scored three touchdowns on the day, one of which came towards the end of the game to separate the Panthers and put the game out of reach.
Derby Head Coach Brandon Clark was pleased with the performance from his team, noting that this Panther team rose to the occasion both on and off the field.
"It's bittersweet, winning a state championship but knowing we won't get to coach these seniors again."
This Derby Panther team joined elite company with the win on Saturday, only the third team in program history to go undefeated.