Thursday, November 22, 2012

SM West's March to the Title Game at a Glance

Sterbach against OE. KC Star.
Week One
SM West 20, Lawrence 14

Bolstered by Brett Sterbach's three rushing touchdowns, the Vikings took a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter.  Because of several untimely turnovers, SM West was forced to make three consecutive redzone stands to close the game.  They withstood and held on for a six-point victory. 

Record: 1-0
Feat: Avenged a week one beatdown at the hands of the Chesty Lions from the previous year.

Week Two
Lawrence Free State 28, SM West 14

Week two was a humbling experience, but something that definitely helped the team in the long-run.  The Vikings gave up two early Free State touchdowns passes, then allowed Tye Hughes to return a punt for a score as time expired in the first half.  The 14-point loss was bad, but AJ Verdini began to find his stride and Andre Maloney caught his first touchdown of the season.

Record: 1-1
Feat: Exposed the weaknesses that needed to be shored up in their secondary and special teams units.

Week Three
SM West 38, Olathe North 7

SM West took out some of their frustration against an opponent they hadn't defeated since 2006.  Sterbach rushed for 238 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings jumped out to a 38-0 lead before Olathe North scored late in the fourth quarter.

Record: 2-1
Feat: Beat Olathe North for the first time since 2006.

Week Four
SM West 18, Olathe East 8 

This game lasted barely two hours with both teams running the football so much.  Verdini found Maloney on two first half touchdown passes, and kicker Joey Reed also had a strong game hitting two field goals.  Olathe East looked like they might threaten late, but they ran off too much time attempting a comeback as the Vikings pushed their own record to 3-1.

Record: 3-1
Feat: Handed Olathe East a rare third loss in four games and established confidence in a passing attack.

Week Five
SM West 28, SM South 17

Facing former assistant Ryan Lonergan's SM South Raiders, the Vikings actually got off to a slow start.  SM South's Gabe Guild scored on a 51-yard touchdown run on the Raiders' first offensive play.  Trailing 17-14 at halftime, SM West came back in the second half with a brutal rushing attack which was enough to earn them the victory.  Sterbach finished with 266 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 38 carries.

Record: 4-1
Feat: Held arguably the league's top running back in check in the second half after making in-game adjustments.

Week Six
SM West 38, Leavenworth 20

Sterbach added three touchdowns and Verdini found Maloney on two touchdowns as the Vikings rolled to their fifth win of the season.  The game was never really in doubt as SM West was ahead 28-3 at the half.

Record: 5-1
Feat: Finished out non-district play with a four-game winning streak and ensured the program's ninth winning season in a row.

Week Seven
SM West 58, SM North 0

While this homecoming blowout looked seemingly normal on the surface it proved to be the proverbial game of the "rubber meeting the road" for the Vikings.  Starting safety and second-string quarterback Rob Rice broke two bones in his lower leg on a quarterback keeper in the second half.  He was carted off the field to an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.  The loss could have been devastating (Rice was SM West's leading tackler at the time) but the Vikings used Rice's absence as a rally cry.  Sterbach had another incredible night, despite the loss of his teammate, rushing for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries.

Record: 6-1
Feat: Jumped to a 1-0 district record.

Maloney against SME. KC Star.
Week Eight
SM West 31, SM East 14

This was the game where we starting seeing that SM West could win through the air just as easily as on the ground.  Verdini connected with receivers Ben Lake and Maloney on 34 and 56-yard touchdown passes, respectively, to shock the Lancers through the air.  Sterbach added 91 yards rushing and Reed added his standard field goal contribution.

Record: 7-1
Feat: Defeated cross district rival and won the annual Nut Cup, while also firmly putting themselves in the driver's seat for the district championship.

Week Nine
SM West 40, SM Northwest 9

SM Northwest jumped on the board first (opponents have scored first on the Vikings in six of their 12 games) but SM West answered with 40 straight points to put the game away.  Five SM West running backs--Sterbach, Tory Powell, Steffon Ward, Ray Cherry and Jaunyae Stallings--scored touchdowns in the rout.  The win sealed an outright Sunflower League title for SM West.

Record: 8-1
Feat: Won more games than the previous season, claimed a district title, a Sunflower League title outright and grabbed the second seed in Kansas 6A East.

SM West 34, Blue Valley Northwest 14

On the Vikings' second offensive play of the game Sterbach broke loose up the middle on a 63-yard run which set up a one-yard touchdown run from him a play later.  Rashaun Owens added a touchdown run, and Verdini found Maloney on one of their hallmark deep touchdown passes, giving SM West a 21-0 halftime lead.  They had no trouble cruising to the victory in the second half.

Record: 9-1
Feat: Avenged a Regional loss to Blue Valley Northwest from 2008.

SM West 21, Lawrence 14

SM West started out on a lackadaisical note, producing little offensively and trailing 6-0 at halftime.  The lead could have been worse had their defense not made some key redzone stops.  In the second half the Vikings broke out the Wildcat formation with Maloney and Sterbach and the momentum suddenly changed.  They Vikings held on to a touchdown lead late to advance to a rematch game with Free State.

Record: 10-1
Feat: Won on the road at Lawrence High for second time in 11 weeks, won 10 games for the first time since 2006.

SM West 48, Lawrence Free State 21

The Vikings put together one of their better games of the season, attacking Free State on offense, defense and special teams.  In the complete effort we saw the Vikings score two touchdowns through the air on Verdini passes, one rushing touchdown from both Sterbach and Powell, a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Lake, a kickoff return for a touchdown by Maloney and two field goals from Reed.

Record: 11-1
Feat: Avenged a week two loss to Free State, claimed the title as the top team in 6A East and advanced to the 6A state title game.

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