Football wins fourth consecutive 5A state title with 28-14 victory over Maize

A three-score outing from wide receiver Davion Harris and late-game interception by defensive back Mikey Bergeron helped the team beat Maize in the championship for the second year in a row

Gabby Delpleash, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Holding above his head his sixth 5A Kansas state title trophy in eight years, head football coach Joel Applebee, who is undefeated in state title games, beamed at the end of a rainy 28-14 victory over Maize High School Saturday, Nov. 26 at Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg.

Thanks to a three-score effort by wide receiver Davion Harris and timely defensive plays including a takeover at Maize’s own 40-yard line in the fourth quarter, the team took home their fourth consecutive state championship, including two in a row over Maize. 

“One of our big goals going into a game like this is we want to be the first one to score in the beginning half in our first drive,” Applebee said. “Scoring in our first drive sets the tone for the rest of the game. I thought we executed very well on that first touchdown drive.”

The Jaguars did indeed put points on the board first with a handoff carried 10 yards for the touchdown by wide receiver Davion Harris with 5:37 left in the first quarter. A fourth down drive with 10:03 left in the second quarter forced the Jaguars to attempt a field goal. Kicker Kenten Laughman came up short with the ball bouncing off the upright. The Jags continued to lead 7-0.

We knew that we had an explosive offense coming in and for us, as a united offense, to be able to communicate with one another downfield, it just has the potential to pull off great things

— Quarterback Hayden Jay

Maize was able to equalize in the second quarter with a touchdown run by four-star quarterback and K-State football commit Avery Johnson with 3:49 left to play in the first half.

On the next Jags possession, facing a third and long, quarterback Hayden Jay dialed up a 69-yard touchdown to wide receiver Preston Oliver putting the Jags up by a touchdown, 14-7, just before the two minute warning of the first half. 

“We knew that we had an explosive offense coming in and for us, as a united offense, to be able to communicate with one another downfield, it just has the potential to pull off great things,” Jay said.

The Jags came back swinging with less than a minute left of the second half with Harris’ second touchdown of the afternoon, catching a 56-yard pass and breaking two tackles on his way to pay dirt.

The game went into halftime with the Jags leading Maize by two touchdowns, 21-7.

A steady rain dominated the second half of the game as Mill Valley returned to the field with possession of the ball to start. Harris continued to play the hero, scoring his third touchdown of the game in the third quarter catching a 10-yard pass in the end zone with seven minutes left in the third quarter.

Though Maize was able to put another touchdown on the board in the waning minutes of the third quarter, the Jaguar defense was able to hold back Maize’s offensive line for the remainder of the game.

In a fourth quarter drive, defensive back Mikey Bergeron caught an interception in Mill Valley’s own endzone, stopping a comeback attempt from Maize and putting the Jaguars in possession of the ball with a little over four minutes left in the final moments of the game and a two touchdown lead. As the offense assumed victory formation, Mill Valley fans chanted “I believe that we will win,” and the sideline celebration began.

Jay finished his final game with a respectable 189 passing yards and three touchdowns but credited the defense with leading the team to two consecutive victories over Maize in the state final, both with the exact same 28-14 score

“I stand by the fact that our defense is the best in the state,” Jay said. “For them to hold an offense like [Maize’s] at only 14 points for two years in a row, it’s unbelievable.”

Reflecting on the win, offensive lineman Jack Melvin believes capping off a successful season in such a fashion would have been impossible if it weren’t for the team’s camaraderie.

“It’s just how we come together as a family. None of this would have happened if we weren’t close and had a brotherhood,” Melvin said. “Everything we do, we do it like a family. That plays a huge part in how we play out here.”

Harris credits one thing above all else for the team’s continued success: hard work.

“All of this, it starts with the hard work we put in in the weight room,” Harris said. “It just takes a lot but our team pulled through like they always do, I love all of them. I hope we can do it again next year.”

The victory capped off an 12-1 season for Mill Valley, outscoring their opponents during the playoffs 233-14.

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