The intended effects of a postgame water-cooler dousing can be mitigated somewhat when the temperature hovers near freezing.
So it was that Shawnee Mission South football coach Ryan Lonergan didn’t get a bone-chilling rush of icy water while delivering the postgame speech following the Raiders’ 27-20 home victory over Shawnee Mission Northwest on Friday.
Lonergan instead felt the sweet sting of ice cubes after informing his team that it was headed to the playoffs.
“We found out Shawnee Mission West won, and all we had to do was win if that’s the case. So we’re in the playoffs, and we’re happy,” Lonergan said. “It’s the first time in seven or eight years, so we’re going to get ready and go play whoever they tell us we have to go play.”
SM South, 3-6, took advantage of some short fields created by SM Northwest miscues and took a lead into halftime.
The Raiders had seemingly put the game away with a pair of long touchdown drives in the second half that built a 27-6 lead with 6:41 to play.
The two drives covered 76 and 82 yards and chewed more than 10 minutes off the clock. Quarterback Matt Hollingsworth, who threw for two touchdowns and finished with 101 rushing yards, scored from 6 yards out to cap the first score.
“Maybe we were just kind of edgy at first, but we know what to do,” Hollingsworth said. “We did it. We’ve had slow starts throughout the year, I’m just glad we figured it out. It feels good to do something nobody’s done since I’ve been here.”
Running back Marshall Bland scored the second of his two touchdowns to finish off the second scoring drive.
SM South seemed set to cruise to a victory, but SM Northwest, 2-7, had other plans.
The Cougars got a 45-yard touchdown run from Sam Sullivan with 3:53 to play.
SM Northwest got the ball back at its own 5-yard line with no timeouts and 1:21 to play. Sullivan ripped off a 53-yard run. Quarterback Clay Drouillard finished the drive with a 2-yard sneak for the touchdown.
The Cougars went 95 yards in just more than a minute, but SM South’s Tyler Perdue snagged the ensuing onside kick and finally put the game away.
“I was concerned about how our kids would enter this game,” SM Northwest coach Linn Hibbs said. “We knew we had to win by a certain number of points and games in our district had to go a certain way for us as well. I’m proud of the kids and our effort. We could’ve easily thrown in the towel when it was 27-6, but the kids kept competing.”
The Raiders were finally able to breathe easier at the end of the game.
“It’s not exactly how you want to finish a game, but you know what, our kids played hard,” Lonergan said. “Northwest, to their credit, played really hard, made some big plays and did some things to take advantage. The kids made plays and fought to the end.”
No sweat, right?
“It was 20 degrees, so no one was sweating,” Hollingsworth said with a grin. “But we got it done.”