Bougher and the Circle Thunderbirds move one step closer to a league title with win over El Dorado

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Circle's Dylan Bougher is running through tackles in the 33-14 win over El Dorado on Friday night. He finished with 173 yards of total offense in the win.

TOWANDA, Kansas — Not many teams would have the composure to come back and drop 33 consecutive points on a rival after giving up 14 points in the first 150 seconds of the game but Circle showed real strength on Friday night. 

Circle scored the game's final 33 points as they avenged a loss last season to trounce their rival, El Dorado, 33-14, to improve to 5-2 on the year. 

"It was a it was a wake up call," senior running back Dylan Bougher said. "Coach always preaches that it's never the game's never over until the until that clock strikes zero. We gave up those 14 points in the first 15 or so seconds and then they didn't score again."

The win guarantees the Thunderbirds at least a winning season, something that hasn't hit Towanda since 2004 when they went 5-4. That same team is the last time a Circle team was 5-2. 

Not a single player on this roster was alive the last time they set this mark. 

"We're setting new standards and traditions," junior Cooper Chadwell said. "Whether it's freshman, sophomores, juniors or seniors, we know we can win these games when we get behind."

Get behind and fight back is maybe a Circle mantra this season. They trailed at halftime the previous five weeks and when halftime rang in on Friday, they trailed 14-6. So, it was nothing they hadn't experienced this year. 

"I walked in the locker room and I told them 'I guess we're a second half team,'" Circle head coach Logan Clothier said. "And we came out and showed, maybe we are. 

Maybe so. Even after trailing 16-7 to Independence last week, Circle came out with a flurry of offensive explosion that saw them roll off... 33 consecutive points. 

Circle did it by applying a smothering defense that limited really what El Dorado could do offensively. The Wildcats (3-4) came into the game as the No. 1 rushing attack in Class 4A. They were shut down on Friday night. Whether it was forcing Gannon White to beat you 1-on-1 or just making sure you wrap up on Jaydon Sundgren, the Thunderbirds had an answer. 

"Coach [Joe] Zinn watches an unbelievable amount of film," Chadwell said. "He puts us all in the right spots. He knows what to call so we trust him."

The Wildcats had only 125 yards rushing and 63 yards on the game's opening drive after recovering an onside kick. 

While Sundgren was held to 49 yards in the loss it was Bougher who stole the show. The senior after not being able to get into the end zone all season, ran wild with 144 yards on the night, more than the entire El Dorado offense combined. He finally punched it into end zone in the fourth quarter, for his rushing touchdown of the game. 

"I don't care about the scoring or any of that," Bougher said. "Just the wins."

The last two weeks have been exceptional as he's broken 100 each week, providing the dynamic running game Circle has lacked over the last couple of seasons. He's a big body who pounds and breaks tackles. He finished with 173 all-purpose yards. 

"I talked to Dylan after last week about he's our leading rusher and how he hasn't gotten into the end zone and he said 'I don't care we won." Clothier said. "That right there cemented Dylan Bougher's personality and the type of person he is; he's all about the team first."

For some, it's hard to believe Circle put up 33 points without leading receiver Ty Smith, who's out with an injury. However, it was a group effort and that's been the mantra all season. While Smith has seen the gaudy numbers and received the accolades, they've had a plethora of receivers catch balls all season and the win on Friday night was no different. 

Seven different receivers caught a ball and two caught touchdowns, including Tyler Sanchez in the first quarter. Instead of keying off one receiver and taking your chances other places, it was pick your poison on who you were going to guard. Four of the eight receivers caught at least two passes. 

"That goes back to coach and practice. Everyone gets equal reps and no one is getting more than someone else," Bougher said. "Next person has to step up so they can't be at a disadvantage coming off the bench.

The receivers caught 13 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

The Thunderbirds now have put themselves in prime position to host a playoff game for the first time in many years.

"Coach told us this isn't your senior night," Bougher said. "Your senior night is going to be in two weeks when we host a playoff game. That's what we want to do, keep winning and host those playoff games. To do that, we have to keep focusing on each week at a time."

Circle will not focus on Buhler with a league championship on the line. If the Thunderbirds can go to Buhler and pull the upset, they will have forced a 3-way tie for the AVCTL-III league tile as Buhler, Circle and McPherson would all be 4-1 in league. 

"Hosting a home playoff game is great for our community and our fans," Clothier said.  "We're just extremely, extremely happy for our community and our kids and our parents. That's what it's all about."

Circle 33, El Dorado 14

El Dorado;14;0;0;0—14

Circle;6;0;14;13—33

E - 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Drew Veatch. (Sundgren run)

E - 19-yard TD run by Veatch (run failed)

C - 10-yard TD pass from Luke McGinnis to Tyler Sancez (PAT no good)

C - 4-yard TD run by Cannon McCormack (pass fail)

C - 2-yard TD pass from McGinnis to Cole Glaves (pass good).

C - 3-yard TD run by McGinnis (pass fail)

C - 2-yard TD run by Dylan Bougher (Will Trier kick)

RUSHING: El Dorado - Sundgren 13-49; White 12-18; Veatch 4-26; Cavallaro 4-23; Rice 2-9; Fowler 1-0. TOTAL; 36-125. Circle - Bougher 20-144; McGinnis 12-(-17); McCormack 7-37; Rose 2-8. TOTAL: 41-172.

PASSING (C-A-TD-I): El Dorado - White 0-4-0-3. 0. Circle - McGinnis 13-23-2-1 166.

RECEIVING: El Dorado - None. Circle - Jeffries 3-47; Brown 3-34; Bougher 2-29; Glaves 2-10; McCormack 1-20; Hagemann 1-16; Sanchez 1-10

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.