Second-seeded Andover flexes rushing muscles in win over Salina South in 5A playoffs

Kalon Fullerton
Special to the Butler County Times-Gazette

ANDOVER — The second-seeded Andover Trojans came into the game against Salina South hoping to avoid the upset and knowing the importance of a quick start.

They almost could not have asked for a better response, when the Trojans would force a fumble on the second play from scrimmage and Josh Wolfe scooped up the ball and took the recovery 40 yards for the score, just 21 seconds into the game.

Still, there may have been some nervousness inside Andover District Stadium when the first quarter ended with the Trojans up just three points. 

Those nerves would prove to be short lived.

On the first play of the second quarter, Trojans senior running back Max Middleton took the ball 65 yards to the end zone to put Andover up 17-7, and it was all academic from there, as the Trojans cruised to the second round of the playoffs with a 51-21 victory.

“I love running outside, because I can just use my speed.” Middleton said. “I followed my lead blockers and then I saw a small hole and shot through it.”

“He did a great job of being patient.” Trojans head coach Ken Dusenberry said.

It would be the first of Middleton’s two scores on the night, as he finished with 153 yards on 17 carries. Quarterback Brady Strausz also had a big night, going 12 of 17 for 185 yards and three touchdowns, as well as scoring on the ground.

“I think we came out with energy and we made big plays when we needed it.” said Dusenberry.

“We definitely came together as a team.” Middleton said.

With the loss, Salina South’s season ends at 1-9. The Cougars went down swinging, scoring the last two touchdowns of the night.

“It’s always tough to end a sesaon.” Cougars head coach Sam Sellers said. “This is an awesome group of kids that you enjoy the heck out of off the field, and on the field they’re some good football players.

“Our kids fought, and as a coach that’s all you can ask for.”

With the win, Andover will move on to the regional to host seventh-seeded Hays next Friday.

“It’s the second round of the playoffs and we’ll just go back to work on Saturday and try to get better.” Dusenberry said.

“It’s win or go home.” Said Middleton. “And that’s the mindset of this team and that’s what drives us to be better.”