4A 10th-ranked El Dorado Wildcats rebounds in big way over Labette County

Lionel Tipton
Contributor to Butler County Times-Gazette
El Dorado's Connor Clausing (10), Gavin Bell (66) and Jaydon Sundgren (3) celebrate an El Dorado score against Labette County on Friday night at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.

EL DORADO – The sting of last week’s loss to Augusta was still fresh when visiting Labette County came out on its first drive Friday night and marched 65 yards in just five plays for a 7-0 lead.

That euphoria lasted all of about 3½ minutes.

El Dorado scored on its next three drives, using a devastating rushing attack to breeze to a 51-7 victory.

“It was good to come back out (and) get the sour taste out,” El Dorado head coach Wes Bell said. “They did some new things (on the opening drive) and it took us about a series to adjust.

“It was good to see El Dorado do what El Dorado has done. I don’t know about last week; that wasn’t us.

“It was good to get back.”

Bell’s flexbone offense proved to be the deciding factor, piling up more than 300 yards on the ground.

“That’s one of the reasons I hired (assistant coach) Brandon Wise,” he said. “I wanted to run the flexbone. In high school, I got my butt handed to me; in college once in the playoffs I had the superior team (and) we got thumped by people who were really good at it.

“No matter if it’s college or high school; I wanted to run it and run it well. There’s still some things that we need to clean up to get where I want us to be.”

Bell said that although Labette County had a few surprises, his club was able to adjust.

“It took a little bit to get rolling,” he said. “They did some things they hadn’t shown defensively through a couple of games, but you’re going to get some of that when you run what we run.”

Bell said there still is some room for improvement.

“It was good to see our kids get it,” he said. “It was still sloppy – that was still something I chewed on after the game. We weren’t as efficient as I want to be in certain scenarios. We still had a little bit of a turnover bug that we shouldn’t have.

“I don’t mind aggressive penalties (but) I don’t like stupid, foolish penalties. We continue to have those. We’re going to have some holding stuff with how our kids go. I think we had 4-5 false starts, but those kids are young, and we can clean that up.”

The 10th-ranked Wildcats (2-1) were paced by senior running back Jaydon Sundgren, who rushed 25 times for 182 yards and scored touchdowns of 22, 25, 15 and 5 yards.

“We challenged him, and he kind of cranked it up (Friday night),” Bell said.

Sundgren credited the flexbone for providing a potent rushing attack.

“We do a lot of interesting things on the ground,” he said. “It’s pretty versatile.”

He said he wasn’t concerned after Labette’s early score.

“We had to clean up some stuff up, but after we made some adjustments, we were pretty clean,” Sundgren said.

The El Dorado rushing attack, which accumulated 323 yards in 40 carries for the night, was relentless. The Wildcats effectively used Bell’s flexbone offense to constantly befuddle the Grizzlies (0-3). Running backs can come at a defense from a number of directions, and when Sundgren wasn’t shouldering the load, juniors Jalen Rice (63 yards, one TD), Drew Veatch (47 yards, one TD) and Adam Cavallaro (who scored the Wildcats’ first touchdown on a 12-yard run) did the damage.

In all, the Wildcats utilized eight different backs, including junior quarterback Gannon White.

But the defense also did its part in the blowout.

Subtract the opening drive, and Labette County posted negative yardage for the first half.

It didn’t get any better in the second half. The Grizzlies, trailing 30-7 at halftime, had to resort to passing in an attempt to erase the deficit, and quarterback Kendal Holzman only completed 5 of 19 passes after the opening drive.

On the last drive of the first half, Veatch picked him off and returned it 25 yards to the Labette 45 as the half expired.

Holzman was also sacked three times and lost a fumble. That fumble recovery was third into Sundgren’s 15-yard score.

The Wildcats will hit the road again next week in AVCTL Division III play at Buhler.

“We’ve got some tools,” Bell said. “We’ve just got to stay healthy. The kids have got to keep working (and) not forget what got them here.”

El Dorado 51, Labette County 7

Labette County;7;0;0;0—7

El Dorado;16;14;8;13—51

LC – Searles 31 pass from Holzman (Searles kick)

ElD – Cavallaro 12 run (Rice run)

ElD – Veatch 6 run (Sundgren run)

ElD – Sundgren 22 run (Cavallaro run)

ElD – Rice 3 run (kick failed)

ElD – Sundgren 25 run (Baker run)

ElD – Sundgren 15 run (Baker kick)

ElD – Sundgren 5 run (kick failed

Individual statistics

RUSHING – Labette County: Schaplowsky 8-3, Wagner 3-0, Holzman 5-(-42). El Dorado: Sundgren 25-183, Rice 6-67, Veatch 6-47, White 3-13, Burns 2-23, Cavallaro 2-16, Fowler 2-15, Summers 1-6.

PASSING – Labette County: Holzman 8-21-1-93. El Dorado: White 2-5-0-20.

RECEIVING – Labette County: Eaton 5-47, Searles 1-31, Kohler 1-13, Boyle 1-2