By Travis Mounts
The Conway Springs Cardinals shut out the Sacred Heart Knights of Salina, 68-0, in a dominating Class 1A playoff game last Friday. But the Cardinals nearly recorded a second shutout.
The Knights managed just a single yard of offense against the Cardinals’ defense. Sacred Heart ran 34 times, and netted just 1 positive yard. Total yards reflects both gains and losses through the game. The Knights were 2-for-5 passing, gaining no yards.
Head coach Matt Biehler said he had never seen a team so close to shutting out a team in terms of offensive yards.
“It wasn’t the type of a game you look forward to playing in,” he said about the mismatch.
The Cardinals started subbing in reserves before halftime, and those players did well and maintained the high level of play.
While the Conway Springs defense bottled up the Sacred Heart offense, the Cardinals’ offense did whatever it wanted. The Cardinals gained 461 yards Friday night.
They ran for 371 yards on 13 carries, averaging 13.7 yards per carry. With that kind of running success, their limited passing game still gained 90 yards through the air. Starter Izic Billups was 3-for-5 for 31 yards and two touchdowns. Isaac Winter was 2-for-2 for 59 yards and a score.
Brayden Kunz and Isaac Winter both broke the century mark, gaining 114 and 103 yards, respectively. Derrick Smith had 50 yards on three rushes.
Smith caught two touchdown passes and had 28 receiving yards. Taylor Wyles led the team with 50 yards, all on a single touchdown reception.
Lane Kelly had an interception for the defense, and Dane Fisher led the team with 6.5 tackles.
The game was a mismatch. The Knights did not win a game this season. They were shut out six times, giving up 50 or more points in five of those games. That included an 86-0 defeat. They had one close game, a 9-6 overtime loss to Ellinwood.
As the district runner-up, Conway Springs did not get a bye last week. That seemed fine, as the Cardinals were able to play and maintain their normal routine.
Conway Springs will be at home again this week, and the competition will go up considerably as the Plainville Cardinals come to town. Plainville is 6-3 this season, although one loss was by 3 points to Smith Center on a last-minute score. Plainville won by forfeit last week, as Sublette did not take the field.
The teams faced each other in the second round of the 2020 playoffs, with Conway Springs winning 14-7.
Plainville is big and physical, and will look to run most of the time.
“We need to wrap up and finish tackles, because they’re coming at you,” Biehle said. “We need to own the line of scrimmage.”
Conway Springs feels comfortable in its ability to throw, which should help open up the running game.
“We feel like we’ve got both elements this year,” Biehler said.
Friday’s game against Plainville will start early, with a 6 p.m. kickoff at T.K. Shinn Field.