Kai Kunz throws three touchdown passes in big playoff win over Circle Thunderbirds

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Andover Central senior Kai Kunz throws a pass against Circle on Friday, Nov. 5 at Andover Central High School in Andover, Kansas. The senior led the Jags to a Regional Championship in the 49-10 win.

ANDOVER, Kansas — There was no panic in the Andover Central Jaguars on Friday night when they went into the second quarter against sixth-seeded Circle scoreless.

"It was a wake up call actually," senior lineman Drew Daniels said. 

The Jaguars woke up and went on a tear, scoring 42 points in the second quarter, in rout to a 49-10 win over Circle and advancing to the Class 4A sectional round next week.

Circle ends their season 6-4, their most wins since 2001. 

The scoring game quickly and in bunches. The Jaguars scored 21 points in 120 seconds and by that point, people were making plans for next week. 

"I have a really great O-line with Drew [Daniels], Nate Peak, Andrew Mann, Bronx Wood and Dawson Howard," senior quarterback Kai Kunz said. "I feel like they're the best O-line in the state."

The offensive line paved the way for their flurry of points. They drove the defense back on the first score, getting Ashton Barkdull into the end zone. Barkdull, who had missed the last two games with an injury played a bit in the win over Circle as he continues to ease back into it. 

After a fumble recovery, it was the line who once again drove defenders off the ball, getting Barkdull into the end zone once again, this time from a 16-yard run. 

Then, Kunz found Cooper Tabor on the 49-yard touchdown dime to put the Jaguars up 21-0 with 9:14 remaining in the second quarter. 

"They all they all come out here and they come out work their tails off every single day," Kunz said. "They don't give up plays and that's why we're so successful moving the ball."

After another turnover, it was Kunz doing it again, this time with his feet from six yards out.

The senior QB was efficient on the night going 13 of 16 passing for 175 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for another score and 14 yards. 

In all, the Jaguars put 164 yards on the ground and limited Circle to just 97 yards of total offense. 

"Our defense is phenomenal," Kunz said. "I think it's the best in the state."

The Jaguar defense was phenomenal as Circle was missing their captain and senior quarterback, Luke McGinnis. Andover Central forced four turnovers and held Circle to less than 20 yards of offense heading into the fourth quarter.

Next, the Jaguars will travel to Wamego to play the second-seeded Red Raiders, who knocked off sixth-seeded Augusta on Friday night, 34-7. They're led by Hayden Oviatt, the dual-threat quarterback who led them to the sectional round last year.

"It's about staying home and not trying to do another person's job," Daniels said. "We're trying to do our job so that other people can flow in and make the tackle."

It will be the first road playoff game since the sub-state, 7-0 win over McPherson in 2019. For coach Tuttle, it's about 

"It's not a big deal, but it is a little bit longer trip," Tuttle said. "We just need to be in focus and be ready. This group's been doing that. So we'll just keep doing what we do and and try to get better this next week."

That kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12.

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.