Following Bishop Miege’s dominating 68-12 victory over Andover Central on Saturday in the Kansas Class 4A Division I football state championship game, the Miege players were sure to stop and take in the moment.
They thought about two years of dominance in their division. They pondered 25 victories in their last 26 games. They relished winning back-to-back state titles.
Then they slid across the ice-covered field and celebrated with their friends and family in the rain at Hummer Sports Complex.
Miege featured a balanced offense and had tradition on its side, but the key to the Stags’ success was running back Dawson Downing. His 236-yard, six-touchdown performance on Saturday was an exclamation point on Miege’s effort.
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“It was a lot of fun,” Downing said. “It’s feels great to finish this way, because it was our goal at the beginning of the year. It feels great to accomplish it.”
Downing missed a game against Blue Valley earlier this season, but his final season statistics were still impressive. He carried the ball 208 times for 1,904 yards and 42 touchdowns.
Miege outscored opponents 742-209 during the season. Another factor was sophomore quarterback Carter Putz, who displayed complete control and confidence in his receivers and running backs.
“I just felt like this group was a family every time during the game,” Putz said of the Stags’ season. “It’s going to be tough losing those seniors, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
On Saturday, the Miege defense rang up sacks, interceptions and fumble recoveries. None were bigger than two fumble recoveries that resulted in touchdowns by Ray Vaca, which turned the game into a blowout.
“My coaching staff is unbelievable,” said Miege coach Jon Holmes, in his fourth season with the Stags. “We work hard all season and we had a great game plan. It’s just awesome to sit back and see the things we’ve done the last few years.”
Perhaps most important to Holmes was that he sent out his players on the right note. The Stags finished their season with a 12-1 record.
“These seniors were freshmen my first year as head coach, so it was important for me to get these guys out (with a win),” he said. “These guys have been through a lot with this program.”