by Brian Turrel
The Sumner Academy Sabres concluded the 2022 season with a 28-0 5A regional playoff loss to the Pittsburg Dragons. A bone-chilling rain soaked players and fans, with a gusty wind and temperatures at 40 degrees and under at game time.
The Dragons dominated from the opening drive, marching confidently down the field with big gains from running back Wyatt Rink for an early touchdown.
Sabres speedy running back Antonio Harrison, averaging over 200 yards per game coming into the contest, was stymied by the Pittsburg defense, which clogged the middle and prevented Sumner’s offensive line from sealing the edge. Harrison was more often than not met in the backfield by Dragons’ defenders.
The visitors repeated their drive twice more in the first half, opening up a 20-0 lead, but Sumner’s defense denied a fourth score at the end of the second quarter, making tackles for short yardage and running out the clock.
Sumner got a great punt to back Pittsburg up on its second half opening drive, and a bad snap and defensive stop forced the Dragons to punt.
Sabres senior Nathan Rios made the play of the game on the Dragons’ fourth down, busting through the line to block the punt. Rios recovered the loose ball on the Pittsburg 9-yard line to set up Sumner’s best scoring chance of the game, but the offense was not able to convert the opportunity to points.
Pittsburg scored again in the fourth quarter, with a two-point conversion to give a 28-0 final margin.
Sumner Academy finishes the season with a 7-3 record. The Sabres finished third in the Meadowlark League at 4-2, behind Atchison (6-0) and Highland Park (5-1).
In the 4A playoffs, the Piper Pirates beat previously undefeated Chanute 48-47 in a double overtime thriller. The Pirates were down by 14 with five minutes left in regulation, but a perfectly executed onside kick from Zane Busick gave his team the opportunity for a late comeback.
The Pirates, now 7-3, are scheduled to play the sectional championship game at Bishop Miege next Friday.
In the 3A playoffs, Bishop Ward was blanked 56-0 on the road by the Holton Wildcats. The Cyclones finish the season at 7-3.