Blue Valley turned strong defense, the running of senior Chance Nelson and the passing of senior Logan Brettell into a 28-0 East Kansas League victory over visiting Gardner Edgerton on Friday in the opener for both teams.
The Tigers’ defense held running back Traevohn Wrench, who has committed to Kansas, to just to 75 yards on 20 carries. He got 33 of those yards on an option pitch on the third play of the game.
The defensive line and linebackers for the Tigers were continually in the Trailblazers’ backfield disrupting the offense.
“I think our defensive line and linebackers played well for a first game,” fourth-year Tigers coach Eric Driskell said.
The ends were junior Jackson Maase and senior Jalen Cooks with the tackles senior Caleb Kjergaard and junior Daniel Carroll. The linebackers were senior Joe Forlenza, junior Dylan Smith and senior Henry McGrew.
Blue Valley was particularly opportunistic, taking advantage of Gardner Edgerton mistakes.
In the first quarter, the Tigers took over at the Trailblazers’ 32 after senior punter Trey Smith had to run with the ball after a bad snap. It took Blue Valley eight plays to score.
The key play on the drive was a 12-yard pass from Brettell to senior Mikey Henson on a fourth and 9 play from the 31.
Chance Nelson got the touchdown on a five-yard run around left end with 2:05 left in the quarter. Brettell added the first of four placements.
In the second quarter, the Tigers took advantage of two Wrench fumbles to score 14 points.
After Gardner Edgerton recovered a Blue Valley fumble at the 9 yard line, Wrench went off right tackle to the 1, where he fumbled. Hunter Murray recovered for the Tigers.
Blue Valley then drove 99 yards in 14 plays to score, with the TD coming on a 41-yard pass from Brettell to Henson.
Wrench fumbled again with just 1:36 left in the half with Jackson Maase recovering.
On the next play, Nelson raced up the middle almost untouched into the end zone from 48 yards out.
The Tigers got their last touchdown on a five-play, 61-yard drive.
Brettell connected with Henson from 10 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter for the final points of the game.
Brettell was nine-of-14 passing for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Nelson was the leading rusher in the game with 15 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
“We made a lot of first game mistakes, but it’s easier to correct them when you win,” Driskell said. “I was impressed with how hard and physical we played.”