Bishop Miege football players flashed wide smiles, gave each other big hugs and posed for numerous photos at Hummer Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon, basking in yet another end-of-the-season celebration.
They were champions again, for the third straight time, after defeating Buhler 53-21 in the Kansas Class 4A-Division I title game.
Bishop Miege scored the first 46 points before easing up late in the third quarter. The Stags, 12-1, finished the season with 12 straight victories after opening with a loss to Blue Valley, the runners-up in Class 6A. Miege has seven state titles in its history since 1972.
“This is what we do it for,” senior lineman Colin Grunhard said. “It’s amazing. We’ve lost two games in three years — both to Blue Valley. The program’s only getting better, too.”
Junior quarterback Carter Putz threw for 331 yards and five touchdowns, including three scores to senior receiver Jafar Armstrong, a Missouri commit who caught eight passes for 219 yards. Bishop Miege’s downfield blocking, from receivers and linemen alike, was particularly effective.
“It’s all preparation and hard work,” Putz said. “Our coaches got on us about making plays down the field and our receivers took on the challenge.”
Putz’s longest pass plays came in the second quarter, on a 68-yard score to Armstrong and an 85-yard touchdown — on a screen pass with flawless blocking — to Cameron Clark. Putz called his receivers the best athletes in the state of Kansas, and coach Jon Holmes said their unselfish play sets the perfect example for the rest of the Stags.
“We tell the wideouts, if they want to get the ball down the field, they’re going to have to block,” Holmes said. “You see Landry Weber and Jafar Armstrong, they are big-time receivers, being unselfish in the run game and making big plays for guys to get the runs going downfield.”
Bishop Miege’s special teams blocked two punts for touchdowns, with senior Chase Delger and junior Peyton Hamrick finding the end zone. Its defense intercepted Buhler quarterback Ethan White twice and harassed him into a 6-of-26 passing day.
Bishop Miege led 32-0 at halftime after Jake Heyen made a 41-yard field goal with his back to the wind.
Buhler’s running game amassed 225 yards on 47 carries, though most of its success happened while facing a big scoreboard deficit late in the game. The Crusaders finally scored with 1:11 left in the third quarter on a 33-yard touchdown from backup quarterback Ben Epp to wideout Dalton Smyres. They finished the year with an 11-2 record.
Individually, Djimon Colbert had a sack and an interception for Bishop Miege. Dylan Downing (14) and Joe Watskey (12) led in tackles. The Stags made eight tackles for a loss in all.
“Our defense has been underrated for us all year,” Putz said.
With the Stags ahead 29-0 late in the second quarter, Buhler put together a 12-play, 55-yard drive to Miege’s 30, but a diving interception by Weber near the goal line after a bobbled pass helped keep the Crusaders from scoring.
Weber made big plays on all sides of the ball, catching an 8-yard touchdown for Bishop Miege’s first score of the game, and throwing a two-point conversion to Joseph Gleason.
Holmes reflected on Bishop Miege’s three-peat, noting that this one was special because of the expectations the Stags created, for themselves and others.
“For this group of seniors, for these kids to come in with the target on their back the entire year, week to week, was tough,” Holmes said. “But these guys were able to do it every week and make plays. These kids mean the world to us. Just proud we could get them out with a win here today.”