Andover Central forces 4 turnovers in a shutout win over Wellington to advance to regionals

Greg Williams
Butler County Times Gazette
Andover Central travels to Wamego for the Class 4A sectional championship Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. The winner will move on to play either Buhler or Mulvane in the Class 4A West sub-state championship at the higher seed's location.

ANDOVER, Kansas - It's been 12 years since Andover Central played a football game against Wellington. The Crusaders won the last matchup 18-7, but now, a few things have changed. 

In 2009, Wellington was recognized as one of the top football programs in 4A, but fast forward to 2021, Andover Central is one of those programs. The Jaguars would get their long-awaited revenge in a 48-0 victory over the Crusaders. 

Wellington's offense came onto the field first and did something they haven't done all season. The Crusaders made a starting quarterback change is Malachi Rogers was replaced by freshman Dusty Bannister. Rogers took over as running back.

In the freshman's first play, Bannister and Rogers weren't on the same page as they fumbled the exchange. Andover Central recovered the fumble in Crusaders' territory, but they ran into some issues. 

In the cold weather, Andover Central senior quarterback Kai Kunz fumbled the snap, then would eventually take two sacks on their opening drive. 

Both teams fumbled the ball twice to begin the game. However, once Andover Central got the ball on their third possession, they took the game's first and only lead on a 55-yard touchdown from Kunz to junior wide receiver Cooper Tabor. 

Kunz went 9-for-16 with three touchdowns and 207 yards. He also finished with 42 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Tabor carved up the Wellington secondary with 111 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions.

After a few back and forth punts, Wellington started a drive on the Andover Central's 28-yard line. With the Crusaders' best field position of the game, Rogers fumbled and Andover Central recovered. 

The Wellington offense totaled 101 yards and turned the ball over four times against Andover Central.

Once Andover Central recovered the ball, they pulled some trickery on the Wellington defense. Kunz faked the pitch to senior running back Jackson Rees, the Crusaders defense bit the attempt, and the quarterback ran it 57 yards untouched into the endzone to make it 14-0 going into halftime.

Wellington quickly gained momentum in the second half as they recovered a pooch kick in Andover Central territory. This would be the Crusaders' only big play of the second half because n the first play after recovering the kickoff, Bannister threw an interception right to Dillon Savage.

The Jaguars marched down the field and punched it in at the goal-line with senior running back Jackson Rees. Then, deja vu came into effect, Andover Central scored on the same passing play from Kunz to Tabor, but this time from 53 yards. 

Rees would get his second touchdown of the day on the next possession. The Jaguars' running back had 62 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. 

Wellington kept getting shut down by the Andover Central defense. After Kunz threw his third touchdown pass to Brock Stupka, the Crusaders fumbled another quarterback-running back exchange. This time Kamden Wilson recovered the fumble and returned it for a touchdown to put the final nail into Wellington's season. 

With the victory, Andover Central will host their regional matchup next week against Circle, who defeated Rose Hill 28-14.

Andover Central 48, Wellington 0

Wellington;0;0;0;0 - 0

Andover Central;7;7;21;13 - 48

Greg Williams has been the reporter for the Wellington Daily News and Butler County Times-Gazette since May 2021. You can reach him at GWilliams@gannett.com or on Twitter at @GregWilliams28.