Ninth-ranked El Dorado Wildcats football pitches shutout in season opener
INDEPENDENCE, Kansas — Only mother nature could slow down the El Dorado Wildcats on Friday night in their season opener.
Jaydon Sundgren ran for 103 yards, scoring two touchdowns as the ninth-ranked Wildcats opened the season with a 36-0 win over Independence.
Sundgren, a senior, was a dominating force at tailback all evening. He broke free on a 47-yard run that helped seal the deal. 'Sunny', as they call him, took carry after carry into the heart of the Independence defense and there was really nothing they could say about it.
After knowing he was going to take over the role that Zach Wittenberg played last season, Sundgren committed himself in the weight room and to getting better and it's paid off.
"We've been grinding a lot in the weight room and I've known that I'm going to fill Zach's spot," Sundgren said. "So, I just mentally prepared for that to take on that role. I'm excited to have that opportunity."
He finished with 103 yards on only 13 carries, scoring two touchdowns.
"Jaydon is a really really good combination of like Zach's physicality, but his own vision and size he has really really good feet," El Dorado head coach Wes Bell said. "I mean, that kid could jump, cut and Zach [Wittenberg] was a true hammer. Sonny's a hammer that can do kind of the finesse stuff on your side."
As the Wildcats rode Sundgren to the victory, the defense pitched a darling of a game, holding the Bulldogs (0-1) to minus-19 yards rushing and 97 yards overall.
"Last year, we might have let them get to us," junior Jalen Rice said. "This year, we kept everything in front of us, which is good for us."
While the Bulldogs did have 117 yards passing, with 48 yards coming on fourth down heaves, the defense never broke, pitching their first shut out since 2018 (55-0 vs. KC Harmon).
Adam Cavallaro broke the scoring open in the first quarter when he took a pitch from quarterback Gannon White, taking it to the house for the early score. El Dorado's Drew Veatch would intercept a pass on the next drive, setting up Sundgren's first score.
Within minutes, the Wildcats had built a 14-0 lead.
They were't done.
Sundgren once again kept taking the hit and used three runs before he broke down the right side for the 21-0 lead with 11:48 remaining in the second quarter.
As Independence was held scoreless, the Wildcats found other ways to score when White, found Trip Baker, a senior swiss army knife for the Wildcats, for the 73-yard touchdown. Dillon Scott hustled across field, blocking two defenders to create a wide open path for Baker. Then, Baker hit the extra point for good measure.
"He [Scott] didn't have to do that he did that [block down field]," Bell said. "It's because he's a program kid who's bought in. That's the stuff that I love to see,"
Baker capped off his solid night by calling for an audible on the two-point conversion, leading to the final points of the night for El Dorado.
"He's worked really hard in the offseason on his kicking," Bell said. "He'll go wide receiver, safety, nickel, kicker; anything we need from him."
As the lightning rippled through the sky in Montgomery County, the officials delayed the game with 2:12 remaining in the second quarter, The officials contemplated postponing the game but both schools understood the distance El Dorado had to drive and didn't want to do it twice. So, they waited out the delay that reached 61 minutes.
The original plan was to wait three minutes at halftime, as required by KSHSAA for warm up and then start the second half. However, as the two teams lined up on the field for the second half, administrators and officials decided to call the game at halftime.
"We wanted to get the game in but we wanted to do it the right way," Bell said. "Keeping the kids safe was the most important thing."
The Wildcats will take this win and get prepared for county rival Augusta, in a rubber match of the last two years, where each school has won on the other's home field. The two will face on the gridiron at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10 at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.
"it's just another game for us," Sundgren said. "We just go by our schedule on a week-to-week basis.
"It's just another game."
El Dorado 36, Independence 0
ELDO: Cavallaro 41-yard TD run (run failed)
ELDO: Sundgren 8-yard TD run (Rice run)
ELDO: Sundgren 47-yard TD (Baker kick)
ELDO: Baker 73-yard TD pass from White (Baker kick)
ELDO: White 79-yard TD run (Baker to Cavallaro pass)
RUSHING: INDY—Julian 6-13; Shaffer 2-2; Merrik 1-(-14); Leiker 3-(-20); TOTAL: 12-(-19) ELDO—Sundgren 13-103; White 2-92; Cavallaro 1-41; Summers 1-12; Rice 1-9; TOTAL: 18-257.
Passing (C-A-I-TD): INDY—Leiker 9-16-2-0 93; O'Kane 1-1-0-0 24; TOTAL: 10-17-2-0 117. ELDO—White 1-1-0-1 73; TOTAL: 1-10-1 73
Receiving: INDY—Merrik 4-50; Smith 2-34; Julian 3-32. ELDO—Baker 1-73.