In the state semifinal last week against De Soto, the Bishop Miege football team found itself trailing by 10 points midway through the second quarter. There would be no early deficit for the Stags in the Kansas Class 4A-Division I championship game Saturday.
Bishop Miege built a 12-0 lead after one quarter and cruised to a 47-7 victory over Andale en route to its fourth consecutive state title.
For coach Jon Holmes, there are different challenges throughout the year, but he loved how his team continued to play and improve throughout the season.
“We play a very difficult schedule during the season, and that is definitely something we benefit from later in the playoffs,” Holmes said. “During those games against the top teams, we have to come ready to play every week or we could get beat. That is a great preparation for a one-and-done setting like the playoffs, so there is no question that it is huge for us to play top competition.”
After forcing an early three-and-out, the Stags went right down the field, with Brison Dobbins capping the drive by scoring from the 1. Five minutes later, the Stags scored another 1-yard touchdown, this time on a pass from Carter Putz to Cameron Clark.
Andale gained a little momentum in the second quarter. The Indians intercepted a Putz pass, then scored on the ensuing drive as quarterback Easton Hunter ran in from the 3, cutting the deficit to 12-7. Putz responded with another touchdown pass, this time to Peyton Hamrick, to increase the lead back to 12 points.
Once again, the Indians had the Stags in a difficult position when Bishop Miege was facing second and 27 from its own 3. But a pass-interference penalty on a long third down went against Andale, and a 66-yard touchdown pass from Putz to sophomore Daniel Jackson gave the Stags all the momentum they needed.
There were a couple of opportunities for Andale to make things interesting, and each time, the Stags responded like a team that was going for its fourth consecutive state title.
“We practice those exact situations a lot, where we have to come out of our end zone,” Holmes said. “You come watch one of our practices, we are constantly working on situational football, which includes plays like that. It is very rewarding as a coach to see the things we are constantly working on be executed like that in a game”
Putz, who shattered multiple state passing records throughout the season, finished his last game with five total touchdowns — four passing, one rushing — to finish off one of the best careers for any player in Kansas history.
While all the accolades and personal achievements are something that he is proud of, the number one thing that Putz will cherish is winning this championship with his teammates.
“Winning this championship is by far the highlight of my career,” Putz said. “Winning the first three was definitely special, but going out a champion my senior year in my final football game is the thing I will look back on and cherish the most. It was an amazing journey all four years, and capping it off today like we did is amazing.”
At Bishop Miege, the expectation is to reload, not rebuild. The Stags will have to replace some talented players, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The talent is there to keep things going on the same path as they are now, but Putz had some advice for the younger players at Bishop Miege to carry on the tradition.
“You have to trust the coaches, and do everything they say,” Putz said. “All you have to do is look at what we as a program are accomplishing, and that is because of the coaches. There is a lot of talent among our younger players, and I know if they listen and do what the coaches ask, then they are going to be right back competing for even more championships.”