Senior receiver Danny Murphy managed just two steps between receiving Bishop Miege’s substate championship trophy and being engulfed by a jumping, screaming hoard of teammates.
The Stags, who have been ranked first in the state all season, were eager to celebrate a 52-20 victory against Eudora on Friday that was all but decided by halftime. They are one step closer to defending their Kansas Class 4A Division I title, which will be decided next Saturday.
“It’s great,” Miege senior running back Dawson Downing said. “It’s been our goal all year, and we are right there now.”
Downing led the Stags to victory with 82 yards and three touchdowns on just six first-half carries. Bishop Miege led 31-7 going into halftime, with a blocked punt and a field goal providing the other points.
They were not so smooth to start the game however, which resulted in their second deficit in as many games. Eudora marched down the field on a 9-minute drive, and Grant Elston put the Cardinals on the board with a short rushing touchdown.
That seemed to wake up the Stags, who needed just three plays and 34 seconds before Downing equalized with a 1-yard run. The Stags scored the next six touchdowns and put the game out of reach.
“I think once our defense saw the offense go down and score as quick as they did, they knew they could play with them and fed off of that,” Stags coach Jon Holmes said. “It showed the rest of the game.”
John Crosby had the defensive highlight of the night, scoring on a blocked punt for Miege that extended the lead to 21-7 in the second quarter. Rees Alena added another defensive touchdown in the third.
With the victory, the Stags improved to 11-1. Their only loss came against Class 6A finalist Blue Valley.
Miege will face Andover Central at 1 p.m. next Saturday at Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka.
“We’ve got to enjoy it,” Holmes said. “Last year I don’t think we enjoyed it as much because we felt a lot of pressure. It’s tough to get to a state championship game, and I think our kids now know that. I know that they are excited to get back.”
Eudora finished its first season with coach Phil Katzenmeier with a record of 8-4. The seniors go out with two state semifinals appearances in their four-year careers.