Miles Starks has a knack for making big plays.
Starks took the second-half kickoff Friday night, shook three tacklers, burst into the open field and ran 84 yards for a touchdown, and the Andover High School football team never looked back, beating Valley Center, 21-8, on the road.
The Trojans are 6-1 overall, but more importantly 1-0 in Class 5A district play and will face Emporia on the road next week. Valley Center fell to 2-5 and will face Newton at home next week.
"It's great," said Andover coach Mike Lee. "Things have gone well. You always feel good about a win. However you get them in district play, a win's a win. … It's hard to fight from behind, so getting a leg up (in district play) is good."
The Trojans trailed 8-0 after the first quarter and 8-7 at halftime before Starks put Andover ahead for good 15 seconds into the third quarter.
"We knew it would be a battle," Lee said. "To get that (kickoff return) to start the second half, it was huge."
Valley Center scored on the opening drive of the game, a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Braden Tormey.
Andover answered in the second quarter, when Alexander Jackson finished a seven-play, 42-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run on first down. The touchdown was set up by a 37-yard pass from Cole Gumeringer to Dallas Bruner and a bruising 10-yard run up the middle by Alexander Olson.
Andover finished the game with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Gumeringer to Bruner late in the fourth quarter.
"When we got that pass to Bruner, we could finally breathe," Lee said.
Andover kept Valley Center on its own side of the field the entire fourth quarter.
"I thought after our first series, the defense played very well," Lee said. "We just simplified things. Early on, we were trying to move people around. And we just simplified things. We just wanted to go out and play and be sound."
Logan Borovetz recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter to stop a Valley Center drive. Brendan Mousley recovered a fumble in the first quarter near midfield.
Andover had 258 yards of total offense in a balanced attack, while the Trojans held Valley Center to 176.
Gumeringer completed eight passes for 142 yards. Four Trojans ran for 20 or more yards. Elijah Renoux finished with 41.