With a Kansas Class 5A playoff spot at stake, Bonner Springs and St. James Academy put forth their best efforts on Friday night.
But it was Bonner Springs’ players who bounced around in jubilation on David Jaynes Field — their home field after a hard-fought 13-0 victory.
The major reasons for the Braves’ success were key interceptions, including a pick by senior Darryl Terrell in the third quarter that he returned into the red zone.
“(The ball) just dropped in my hands, and I caught it and ran it back,” Terrell said.
During his interception return, Terrell had a couple of thoughts running through his mind.
“I was trying to score and secure the ball,” he said with a smile. “But I was just glad the offense got the ball in (scored). That fueled the rest of the game.”
Following Terrell’s interception, speedy Bonner Springs running back Marcell Holmes broke off tackle and scored on a 10-yard run for the game’s first touchdown.
The Bonner Springs defense, meanwhile, proved quite formidable. The Braves were able to pressure the St. James Academy quarterback much of the night. They also came up with timely plays in the secondary.
Bonner Springs used last week’s 42-0 loss to Mill Valley as motivation in its regular-season finale.
“Those guys went back to the drawing board,” Bonner Springs coach Lucas Aslin said. “They were humbled last week. They were convinced it wasn’t going to happen again.”
Bonner Springs was effective with its running game Friday night. Holmes ended the game with two touchdowns and nearly 100 rushing yards.
Junior quarterback Connor Byers added 63 rushing yards for Bonner Springs.
“He’s the X-factor in the run game for us,” Aslin said.
Byers had been suffering from an ankle injury through much of the district playoffs, but Aslin got an indication earlier this week that his quarterback might be getting closer to being 100 percent.
“We were playing basketball in weights the other day and he went up an grabbed the rim, and he goes ‘I finally feel good.’ And I said OK,” Aslin said.
Byers also converted key first downs with his arm, connecting with wide receiver Thaddeus Glenn on several occasions.
On defense, Byers picked off a pass early in the third quarter that seemed to swing momentum the Braves’ way.
“We couldn’t really find our identity the first half. In the second half, the offensive line got after it and we started running the football,” Aslin said.
St. James Academy was hampered by turnovers and its inability to convert some big plays. One spark was junior Jake Burgmeier, who rushed for 118 yards in 17 carries.
They took us out of our game plan and they deserve all the credit,” St. James Academy coach Tom Radke said. “We didn’t execute tonight.”