Pioneers pummel Bulldogs in senior sendoff
His eyes were blood-shot, cheeks redder than apples and his hair was plastered to a sweat-soaked head.
Yet there stood Judson Cole, following his final game as Leavenworth’s starting quarterback, smiling contagiously while thinking of the memories that filled the very locker room surrounding him.
“We had a couple rough rides, but there were so many good times and this was one of them,” Cole said. “We are family and we are going to stay a family. The relationship we have will last forever.”
Four years ago, Cole along with 15 other Pioneer seniors began their football careers at LHS. Since then, the program has risen from the depths of obscurity and now, thanks in large part to this upper-class group, has a brighter future than ever before.
“It’s sort of come full circle,” LV senior linebacker Jesse Colver said. “Being here since our freshman year and taking our lickings when we got them and now, we are the team delivering the blows. It feels great.”
On Friday, the Leavenworth football program said good-bye to the leaders of its resurrection the best way possible — by demolishing visiting Wyandotte.
The Pioneers took three minutes to score its first touchdown, a 13-yard run by Isaiah Ross. Ninety seconds later, the team was up 21-0 and at half, the home team held a mind-boggling 62-6 advantage.
Following 24 minutes of running clock, Leavenworth gave its 2012 seniors a final gift — a 62-22 victory.
“This is the exact way that I wanted the seniors to go out,” Pioneer coach Kevin Kopecky said. “When I got here three years ago, they were sophomores and I knew then that they were a talented group. It’s going to be tough replacing them.”
Following Leavenworth’s first TD, Wyandotte muffed the proceeding kickoff and TJ Stinson recovered the loose ball in the end zone for another Pioneer score.
The next possession ended with a botched punt by the visitors. Jason Randall needed just one play to race for a 10-yard TD run, so at 7:21 in the first quarter, Leavenworth led 21-0.
“The history here isn’t the best so it’s always great to get off to that good of a start,” Kopecky said. “It’s very important.”
Wyandotte recorded its first and only score four minutes later. However, the Pioneers answered right back. Randall rushed for 14 yards, fumbled while crossing the goal line but luckily for LHS, Eli Keppler was there to scoop up the ball for a score.
In the second quarter, Da’Quan Blake rumbled for his first TD of the season, a one-yard fullback dive. Three minutes later, Randall scurried for a 10-yard score and following a Wyandotte turnover, Judson Cole hit Keppler for a 17-yard TD pass.
The strike made the score 49-6, but Leavenworth wasn’t done. With six minutes until half, Ross returned a 46-yard interception for a TD and Cole capped off the staggering start with a 27-yard TD run at 0:31 in the second quarter.
Perhaps the only negative Pioneer play was a missed extra point following that final score, leaving the halftime score 62-6.
Besides two Wyandotte touchdowns, a couple individual milestones occurred in the condensed second half. Randall rushed for his 1,000th yard on the season and linebacker Josh Ammel tallied his 100th tackle for the year — a Sunflower League best.
For the evening, Randall rushed 18 times for 135 yards. He finished the season with 1,030 yards. Cole ran the ball 11 times for 75 yards and threw three passes, two of which were caught by Keppler for 35 yards. Ammel had 11 tackles on the night and finished with 101 for the year.
Leavenworth ended 2012 with a 4-5 overall mark, its best overall record since the early 2000s.
“I think they are just hard workers,” Kopecky said of his seniors. “Some people in football try to make it so complicated but it’s a working man’s game. These kids have worked really hard over the last four years and I’m really proud of them.”