Injury-riddled Huskies take down Trailblazers, 35-28, in Homecoming game

A 35-28 victory over Gardner Edgerton Thursday night, improved the Huskies record to 2-4 for the 2017 season. Senior tight end Jackson Heath led the Huskies receivers with 11 receptions for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns.

BVNW senior tight end Jackson Heath (44) avoids a Gardner Edgerton defender during the first half against Gardner Edgerton High School Oct. 5 at the DAC.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-Chief

For the second straight week, the Huskies entered the half trailing 21-14. Unlike the week prior against Blue Valley Southwest, it was the Huskies scoring before the half- on a 6 yard touchdown reception by senior tight end Jackson Heath- rather than their opponent.

“Tonight we finished both halves,” head coach Clint Rider said. “Last week we didn’t finish the first half and we came out flat [in the second half].”

But, after BVNW turned the ball over on the first possession of the second half, the Trail Blazers marched down the field and extended their lead to 28-14 with a 3 yard touchdown run with 9:28 left in the third quarter. That GEHS touchdown put the Huskies in a two-touchdown hole for the second time of the night.

From that point on the Huskies defense shutout the Blazers offense. Senior cornerback Terrell Hunter, who replaced injured senior cornerback Easton Hunt, said it was his job to step up and help the defense play up to par.

“Coach always tell us to play like ones,” Hunter said, “so that’s what I do. That’s what we all do in practice. We all stepped up, we had injuries, so this is what we do. We get stops.”

Senior linebacker Jack Baird, who recovered a fumble in the Huskies victory, said despite a few big run gains from Gardner Edgerton, he thought the defense stepped up big game.

“They had a few big plays running the ball but we made some adjustments, went to two linebackers and attacked the holes that they were running through,” Baird said.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Huskies racked up multiple big plays for much of the second half. Senior quarterback Payton Hartman completed 26/40 passes for 359 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Hartman said the Trail Blazer defense set him up well to get the ball to Heath throughout the night.

“The defenses were set up perfectly and I just knew the ball was going right to him and I knew who to throw to and who to get the ball to,” Hartman said.

On a night where Heath was able to catch 11 passes for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns, the senior tight end said the offense has become more of a threat as a whole.

“I think teams should be afraid of our pass game,” Heath said. “Our run game is there every once in awhile, but if we get our passing game going, our run game is going to open up and I think we saw a little bit of that tonight.”

Senior wide receiver Jack Beckley, who added multiple first down conversions, said after a 6 turnover performance against BVSW the week before, it was important for the offense to pick up the defense.

“We just had to pick up our defense,” Beckley said, “because we let them down last week.”

Throughout the game, BVNW’s offensive line was able to get the push necessary for an effective run game, showing up in sophomore running back Edward Thomas’ stat line as he rushed 20 times for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns. A 50 yard touchdown run from the sophomore running back with 9:47 remaining in the fourth quarter knotted the score at 28-28.

Hartman found Heath for a 10 yard touchdown reception with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter to secure the Huskies second victory of the season. Rider said after a turnover-riddled game against BVSW last week, he was extremely impressed with the way his quarterback bounced back against GEHS.

“[Hartman] had a great game,” Rider said. “He improvised a bit, and hung in the pocket. He took some shots, he was gimping around a little bit, delivered some strikes, but there really weren’t a lot of balls that were off tonight.”

Senior safety Eric Fischbach left the game in the first half with a knee injury. His status for the remainder of the year is questionable. Sophomore running back Edward Thomas left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury, and said he hopes to be back in action for the playoffs. Senior center Luke Weber left the game in the third quarter with an elbow injury. His return status is unknown. 

With the win, Blue Valley Northwest improved their record to 2-4 for the 2017 season. Next Thursday, Oct. 12 the Huskies travel to Blue Valley to play the Tigers at 7 p.m.

During halftime, 20 Homecoming King and Queen nominees were recognized on the field. Senior Gavin Mullin was announced Homecoming King and senior Ellie Hobbs was crowned Homecoming Queen. Hobbs said she was surprised and thankful to win.

“I was really shocked actually,” Hobbs said. “I did not expect it at all.”

Similarly, Mullin said being crowned came as a surprise to him.

“I was just humbled to be nominated in the first place,” Mullin said. “I didn’t expect it, but I was really happy about it.”