The early-season battle between Gardner Edgerton and Shawnee Mission East appeared to be one of the highlights of the non-conference schedule in Kansas.
But there was no question who the better team was Friday night.
The Lancers, coming off a runner-up finish in Kansas 6A last season, appear to be motivated to get back to the state championship game. Their offense was humming throughout a 40-0 victory over Gardner Edgerton.
SM East got off to a good start when senior quarterback Gunnar Englund hit senior Alec Dean in stride for a 55-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Dean finished with four catches 149 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’ve always had a great connection and chemistry between me and him,” Dean said. “He’s a great quarterback so it all works out well for me.”
Englund, a poised, polished passer, appears ready to lead his team toward another Sunflower League championship and postseason run. Englund completed six of 10 passes for 210 yards and the three touchdowns to Dean.
“Gunner through the ball really well," SM East coach Dustin Delaney said. "Alec ran unbelievable routes and had great catches, especially on third downs.”
SM East also had success moving the ball on the ground with its flex bone offense.
Wyatt Edmiston punched in the second score on a 2-yard between the tackles, making it 14-0. Edmiston finished with nine carries for 45 yards and two scores.
Following an interception by Charley White, SM East went on another long, run-filled drive that ended with a sneak by 1-yard sneak Englund. That helped the Lancers lead 20-0 at halftime.
The Lancers were led in rushing by Calvin Jones, who had 14 carries and 62 yards. Sam Huffman added 37 yards.
“It’s so important,” Dean said of the backfield. “Without that great rushing attack, we wouldn’t be able to pass the way we do with our offense.”
Gardner Edgerton also had success on the ground. Senior Jadon Pearson-Bruce, who has taken over for the graduated Traevohn Wrench, had 24 carries for 102 yards, but otherwise the SM East defense came up strong.
“We all stuck together and never stopped believing and we stayed mentally strong,” senior defensive end Kyle Ball said.
Delaney seemed pleased with his defensive effort as well.
“The defense played outstanding,” he said. “Anytime you hold Gardner Edgerton to zero points, that’s pretty good because they were one of the best offenses in the state last year.”
The second half started just like the first for SM East as Englund connected with Dean streaking down the middle of the field again, this time for 49 yards.
Like in the first half, the running game was also in rhythm as Edmiston ran 6 yards for his second score of the night.
Dean and Englund connected for their third touchdown late in the third quarter, this time from 32 yards.
“We try to get that rush attack going and kind of pound the defense until they’re not looking for the pass,” Dean said. “And that’s when we go right over the top.”
For the Lancers, the win was about setting the right tone for the season and realizing this might be the start of another great run.
“It just sets up to know how good we can play and we can play even better than this,” Dean said. “We just have to keep on working on what we’ve done here and keep building.”