Although Shawnee Mission East’s historic football season ended with a 28-21 loss to Derby in the Kansas 6A state championship game last Saturday, the effects of its success will linger.
This season, the Lancers set a school record for football victories with an 11-2 record and went farther than any other SM East team had gone by making it to the state title game and finishing as the state runner-up. That leaves a lot for first-year head coach Dustin Delaney to build on next season.
“Our kids see the rewards of teamwork and hard work and playing hard, and you get the opportunity to come to the state championship game,” Delaney said. “It’s been a heck of a ride.”
Last Saturday in Topeka, the Lancers appeared to be in control for the first quarter by holding a usually prolific Derby offense to three punts and without a first down. Offensively however, the Lancers turned it over twice.
Derby scored 14 straight points in the second quarter, but SM East trailed by only one touchdown at halftime, thanks to a 62-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Gunnar Englund to junior wide receiver Alec Dean. The two connected again on a 37-yard scoring pass in the third quarter, tying he score.
Derby regained the lead 21-14 on a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but again the Lancers tied it with a 17-yard touchdown run by Ryan Carter. With 1 minute, 21 seconds left in the game, it took Derby just one play from scrimmage after a 35-yard punt return to score on a 24-yard touchdown run.
The Lancers had two more possessions but turned it over on both of them. They had four turnovers in the game with three fumbles and an interception.
Englund went 7-for-15 on his passing and led the Lancers with 127 yards and two touchdowns. Dean led the receivers with 99 yards on two receptions, and Carter led the running backs with 64 yards on eight carries.
“I appreciate the kids. We’ve got some of the best kids around. They’ll do anything for each other and for the coaches,” Delaney said. “It’s hard when you walk off a loser of the last game, but we can hold our heads high knowing that we played (all out) all year.”