DeAndre Aukland scored three touchdowns rushing and Jason Sanchez added two more as No. 1 Manhattan High rolled over No. 16 Wichita North 71-7 Friday night in the first round of the 6A playoffs.
The Indians (9-0) were highly efficient offensively, scoring touchdowns on their first seven drives of the game and putting up 417 total yards, 263 of which came on the ground.
“We knew it was a business trip coming in,” Sanchez said. “We knew it was going to be — I don’t want to say an easy game. But we just came out, showed out, did what we had to do and felt good doing it.”
Aukland finished with a total of 123 yards rushing on six carries, while Sanchez had 65 yards rushing on three attempts.
Quarterback Keenan Schartz contributed 29 yards rushing and a touchdown on six carries, and he went 6-of-6 passing for 81 yards and a touchdown.
“They did a nice job,” said head coach Joe Schartz of his offense. “The offensive line, at times, blocked well. It was good to see Jason and DeAndre get some long runs.”
Manhattan’s defense shut down Wichita North (0-9) the way it has other opponents all season, giving up just 96 total yards. Sixty of those yards came on one play, when quarterback DJ Fowler hit Jacob Wassall for a touchdown pass at the 3:05 mark of the second quarter. At the time, it cut the Indians’ lead to 50-7.
Fowler went 2-of-11 passing for 71 yards. Running back DeAnthony Jones had 18 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Wichita North went three-and-out on seven of its 12 drives. It also lost a fumble and turned it over on downs twice while going 0-of-11 on third downs.
Clayton Frehn and Logan Stevens combined for a Manhattan sack, and Ben Ervine recovered a fumble.
“We just came out here and took care of business,” Joe Schartz said. “(Wichita North) opened up the game and gave us a little bit different look with the double tight, but we adjusted and started tackling well and started getting three-and-outs. We performed well.”
The Indians also dominated in special teams, and it started early in the game.
Wichita North took the ball first and stalled out after picking up one first down. Junior Max Stanard retreated to his own 35-yard line to receive the punt for Manhattan, then swung out wide to the left side, tiptoeing down the sideline. Just when it appeared Wichita North would shove him out of bounds, he cut back inside and found an open path to the end zone. The touchdown put the Indians ahead 8-0 with 8:53 left in the opening quarter.
It was Stanard's fourth punt-return touchdown this season, and his fifth non-offensive score.
Stanard’s return affected the game going forward, as Wichita North attempted to kick away from him. That only led to bad punts and good Manhattan field position. The Indians started eight of their 12 drives in Wichita North territory.
Sanchez scored Manhattan's first offensive touchdown with a 5-yard carry, and then Keenan Schartz ran in a 2-yard quarterback sneak. Aukland scored his first TD from 38 yards out and then, on the next drive, he went in from 15 yards away.
Keenan Schartz connected with Charles Morgan for a 23-yard touchdown through the air, then Sanchez scored on a 53-yard carry up the middle.
“I was just thinking, ‘Don’t get caught,’” Sanchez said of his long run. “The last time I got hawked down. ‘Don’t get caught,’ that’s all I was thinking.”
Aukland's third score was a 36-yarder to put Manhattan up 57-7. The enormous deficit meant that there would be a running clock in the second half.
“The goal was to get there by halftime, and that way it wouldn’t necessarily get out of total control in the second half as long as we had a running clock,” Joe Schartz said.
By reaching the 45-point lead required to initiate the running clock, the Indians were able to shorten the game and decrease the likelihood of sustaining injuries. They also kept their starters on the sidelines in the entire second half.
But just because the backups took the field in the second half doesn’t mean Manhattan stopped scoring.
Second-string QB Carter Aslin led back-to-back touchdown drives to open the third quarter, throwing a 48-yard pass to Gabe Summerlin and a 6-yard pass to Abram Farley.
“Everybody got in the game and got some playing time,” Joe Schartz said. “We even had some freshmen whose season ended and they joined us and the JV and the varsity at practice this week. It was nice to see them get into a varsity game. … It’s invaluable and it serves them well in their development.”
Joe Schartz said that his team was mostly healthy coming out of the game, although some players were still dealing with some nagging injuries that had been bothering them throughout the season.
Starting cornerback Dante Walters did not suit up for the game, while starting tight end Cole Coonrod is out for the remainder of the year.
Despite the risk of injury prior to playing stiffer competition, Joe Schartz said he would have rather played a team like Wichita North than have a first-round bye.
“We got to stay in our routine and keep our rhythm and see somebody in an off-color jersey,” he said. “It was very beneficial for us to stay in the routine and get out and get some work.”
The Indians will move on to the regional round of the playoffs, which they will host next week when they take on No. 8 Wichita East. The Blue Aces (6-3) shut out No. 9 Lawrence Free State 34-0 on Friday.
“Lots of speed,” Joe Schartz said of Wichita East. “They like to throw the ball out to the perimeter with their smoke screens. They’ve got a lot of athletes to defend, so it’ll be a tough matchup.”
“We’re feeling pretty confident,” Sanchez said. “We’re dreaming all the way. Like Coach says, unshakeable will. We’re just going to keep pushing.”