EL DORADO – Only one team gets to celebrate at the end of the year and this year, it wasn’t El Dorado’s turn.
The El Dorado Wildcat’s wild, Cinderella of a season came to an end with the 21-18 loss to Wamego on Friday night but it was the potential that has them chomping at the bit for next season already.
The season ends with the Wildcats setting historic remarks across the board, including finishing with their first winning season since 2000.
"I told the guys, I’m so proud of them," El Dorado head coach Wes Bell said. "I wasn’t ready for it to end tonight."
The Wildcats almost didn’t let it end tonight. They had their moments where you felt as if they were going to create this upset that had been before them. All season long they had been considered an underdog in numerous games due to their past. Almost every time they had overcome those preconceived notions of who this team is.
It felt like a great night as the Wildcats marched 50 yards on the opening drive and scored on six plays. They took the lead and felt as if they were on top of the world and they would hold that for most of the game. The 7-yard touchdown run by Jaydon Sundgren felt as if it was enough or the longest time.
Then, Hayden Oviatt happened.
The Sophomore quarterback scampered for his life. The Wildcat defense kept him in check early but with 3:37 remaining in the first half, he finally broke it open. On a third down, he split right up the middle for their first score of the game and it would be much of the same after that.
Oviatt would scramble, putting his team into good positions, rarely putting his team ina bad spot. He led them down the field again on a 40-yard run with 14 seconds remaining. He punched it in from a yard out to give Wamego the quick 14-6 lead.
Barry Summers returned the following kickoff 78 yards to head into halftime with a 14-12 Wamego lead.
"That kid [Oviatt] is really fast," Bell said. "I told our guys that he’s probably faster than anyone on our team."
Though, just a sophomore, he fumbled on the first play from scrimmage to start the third quarter, giving the Wildcats great field position and they made Wamego pay.
El Dorado marched six plays that was topped off by a Zach Wittenberg touchdown to give El Dorado the 18-14 lead with 9:07 remaining.
Wamego would control the clock for the rest of the game. While they never did anything spectacular again, it was just the wearing down by Oviatt. He rushed for 211 yards, including an 18-yard run at the end to seal it.
The Wildcats had a chance. Sundgren intercepted Oviatt with 3:56 and down only three. However, history would not be on their side as they were unable to score, turning it over on downs.
"I’d sure love to see them [Wamego] again," Bell said
Sundgren finished 95 yards and a touchdown to go along with his interception.
Wamego did a solid job of keeping Wittenberg in check. The senior had come into the game as one of the top rushers in the state and the Red Raiders sold out trying to keep him from breaking off some runs and it worked.
"Credit to Coach Moody," Bell said. "They did some things we haven’t seen this season."
The Wildcats will lose six years on a team that will return 10 of 11 on the defensive side and 9 of 11 on the offensive side for next season.
Bell said this team was a year away and it was like they were playing with house money this season.
"These guys got us where we are," Bell said. "We’ve put together a great group of men here that have set the foundation for this program."
For Bell and the Wildcats, it appears the limit is sky high next season.
WAMEGO – 0;14;7;0 – 21
EL DORADO – 6;6;6;0 – 18
E – 7-yard TD by Jaydon Sundgren (run failed).
W – 59-yard TD run by Hayden Oviatt (Noah Ficke kick).
W – 1-yard TD run by Oviatt (Ficke kick).
E – 78-yard kickoff return for a TD (pass failed).
E – 1-yard TD run by Zach wittenberg (run failed).
W – 6-yard TD run by Oviatt (Ficke kick).
RUSHING: Wamego – Oviatt 29-211; Erickson 4-5; Hodges 3-(-1); Donahue 2-(-3). El Dorado – Sundgren 10-95; Wittenberg 18-42; Rice 7-24; Fowler 1-2; White 4-0; Cavallaro 1-(-3).
PASSING: Wamego – Oviatt 7-11-1-82. El Dorado – White 2-4-1-48
RECEIVING: Wamego – Donahue 3-40; DeRouchey 1-7; Johnson 1-8. El Dorado – Fowler 1-27; Wittenberg 1-21.