In a virtual playoff game to make the Kansas state playoffs the Wildcats of El Dorado left it all on the field on a cool and dank Halloween night falling to the Swathers 48-40 in their final game of the season.
"We have told our guys never to quit and we have fought and battled all season and we threw everything we had at them tonight it just didn't go our way and there is good reason why they are 8-1 this season," said EHS head coach Jared Anderson
Though the Wildcats forced 5 turnovers on the evening the Swathers came away with the win.
"I am proud of the way our guys worked, I was hard on them all year and they fought and battled and stuck it out, they did real well tonight I was pleased with their efforts," said Anderson.
Hesston's Ryan Schadler fumbled on the Swathers first possession and El Dorado's Tucker Sherman came away with the take away.
El Dorado was unable to score and was forced to punt. Schadler a few plays later lit up the scoreboard for the first time on a 27-yard carry to pay dirt putting the Swathers up 6-0.
El Dorado answered Hesston and took the lead on their next possession when Travis House found a wide open streaking Isaac Johnson for a 58-yard touchdown strike. House put the Wildcats up 7-6 with the PAT.
Hesston looked to regain the lead but the Swathers fumbled again and was recovered by Garrett Howland. Unfortunately for El Dorado the Wildcats could not seize the opportunity on the short field.
Hesston took the lead when Schadler went to the house on the Swathers following possession on a 3rd and long for a 39-yard touchdown trot putting Hesston up 12-7 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
It looked as if the Swathers were going to only take a five point lead into halftime when Dacota Motter intercepted Wyatt McKinney in the end zone to stop a promising Hesston drive late in the second quarter. El Dorado was forced to punt and Hesston took over on their 14-yard line with six seconds left in the half.
Six seconds proved to be enough time for Schadler who broke several tackles and went 86 yards for a stunning score giving the Swathers a 18-7 at halftime.
El Dorado had three turnovers in the first half but Schadler had three touchdowns and 152 yards rushing on his scores alone.
"We knew he was going to get his yards and get his points (Ryan Schadler), we just tried to match him offensively and take the clock down offensively keeping their offense off the field, unfortunately they hit us with some big plays and Schadler is a good back," said Anderson.
Page 2 of 3 - The Swathers looked to extend their lead in the second half and drove to the one-yard line but Schadler fumbled for the second time and was recovered by Isaac Johnson in the El Dorado end zone for a touchback.
El Dorado starting on their own 20-yard line converted five consecutive third downs taking nearly six minutes off the clock when House hooked up with Johnson for the second time on a 28-yard touchdown strike, the Hesston lead was cut to 18-13 with 2:31 left in the third quarter. The cut deficit was short lived however for the Wildcats. The Swathers first play from scrimmage Schadler scampered 74 yards to answer El Dorado and go up 26-13 with 2:10 to go in the third quarter.
El Dorado got within a score again when the Wildcats answered with another solid offensive drive capped off with a House to Kody Melugin a 4-yard touchdown trimming the Swather lead to 26-20 with 9:49 left in the game.
"Our seniors were a great group of kids, I told them day one that I was going to make it hard for them and if they stuck it out they would be successful, I have nothing but respect for our seniors, they work hard and it is real tough when you have had three head coaches in their career," said Anderson.
As was the case the whole game for the Wildcats, El Dorado could not stop Ryan Schadler and again he went for a long score beating the EHS defense again this time for a 70-yard touchdown run going up 34-20.
El Dorado had another solid drive moving the ball but the Wildcats turned over the ball on downs on Hesston's 30-yard line with 6:52 left.
Hesston gave the ball right back for their fifth turnover of the game a fumble by Merek Barber that was recovered by El Dorado's Brandon Triboletti keeping the Wildcats hopes alive. The Wildcats did not relent with the short field and House found Garett Howland and Howland broke several tackles on his way to a 29-yard touchdown to put El Dorado within striking distance at 34-27 with 5:34 left in the ball game.
Schadler put the final nail in the coffin for El Dorado scoring on a 53-yard touchdown run, his sixth of the game putting Hesston up 40-27 with 5:25 left in the contest.
The Wildcats would score on their final two possessions House connected with Brandon Triboletti for a 14-yard touchdown. On the Wildcats next possession House scrambled and rushed for a 25-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats within a score with 18 second left.
"It was a slow start for us with what I brought in this year but I thought toward the end of the year we were starting to catch on to what we were supposed to do, they had a no quit attitude throughout the season," said Anderson.
Page 3 of 3 - El Dorado was unable to recover the onside kick and Hesston held on for the win. House threw five touchdowns and ran for one as well in his final game as the El Dorado play caller. Schadler went for 524 yards on 21 carries and six touchdowns.