The Wichita West Pioneers had one football game in particular that they had circled on their calendar: their matchup with Kapaun Mt. Carmel.
West had not won a game against Kapaun since 2000, going 0-14 over the course of the years. This season, Coach Weston Schartz knew that his team had a legitimate chance to end that streak.
With 13 returning starters and a talented, tight-knit sophomore class, West defeated Kapaun 34-0 on Friday night.
“It’s a big win,” Schartz said. “We circled this date … we had to win this game.”
A veteran varsity team was something that wasn’t hard to scout, but their real secret weapon was their sophomore class.
West’s freshman team from the 2018 season went undefeated, outscoring their opponents 350-14. Schartz knew that the tight-knit sophomore class would mesh well with their returning varsity team, which is what made defeating Kapaun a reality for the Pioneers.
“This year we were better than them, more physical than them,” Schartz said. “Normally they’ve been better than us, but the better team won tonight.”
West dominated the game from start to finish, but their offense got off to a slow start.
Sophomore Jomarion Nelson scored the first and only touchdown of the first quarter. After only adding one more touchdown by the end of the first half, Nelson said that the team didn’t feel comfortable with where they were at, despite the 13-0 lead.
“Even though we came out first offensively, we thought it was going downhill come halftime,” Nelson said. “But we ended up picking it up.”
Another three touchdowns brought West to victory.
Although West’s offense headlined their win, it was the defense that “gutted it up” and made Kapaun’s offense non-functional.
“The defense gutted it up,” Schartz said. “We have eight starters back on defense, they should play well … they did play well.”
Schartz built up the hype surrounding this season’s game so much that it made his players believe that they were playing to make history.
“Leading up to this game, all we wanted was to make history,” Nelson said. “That’s what we did.”
West’s win over Kapaun will be used as momentum for the Pioneers for their daunting schedule, including games against Northwest and Bishop Carroll.
“It’s like the old saying you walk into a schoolyard and there’s two bullies there: Carroll and Northwest,” Schartz said. “We’re just going to give it our best shot … they’re both good programs.”