Running back Mike Jones turned the statewide-televised Class 5A District 7 football game on Cox channel 22 into his own personal highlight reel.
Jones, a dazzling Salina South High School junior, blazed Great Bend for a school-record 410 rushing yards in 24 carries, propelling the Cougars to a 56-21 conquest of the Panthers on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Jones, who had a 5-yard scoring run in the first quarter, torched the Panthers for five total touchdowns, breaking loose for eye-popping 90, 88, 75 and 57 touchdown bolts. The Cougars finished with 672 net yards, including 524 rushing yards, despite playing without senior star Cody Busby, out with a turf-toe injury.
Jones, who suffered a slight concussion a week ago during the Cougars' 35-6 manhandling of Hays, showed he was fully healed — and more than ready to pick up the slack. He did all of his work in three quarters before South's reserves played most of the fourth.
Jones, a state runner-up sprinter in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes in track and field last spring, had three first-half touchdowns to zap the Panthers while putting the Cougars in control.
The Panthers had their moments, including 54- and 31-yard touchdown runs from junior running back Johnny Allende, along with a 3-yard scoring plunge from senior back Josh Lopez, who finished with 110 yards in 19 carries. Allende totaled 92 yards in seven totes.
But Jones and Co. were too much to overcome.
Great Bend, which won five of its first six games to open the season, lost all three of its district games to close with a 5-4 record.
South, the district champion, improves to 8-1 and will host a bi-district state playoff game next Friday night against Goddard (4-5).
Hays (7-2), which edged Salina Central 15-9, secured the second playoff berth from District 7 and will take on top-ranked Bishop Carroll (9-0) next Friday night.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Class 5A District 7
At Great Bend
Salina South 56, Great Bend 14
Cougars 21 14 21 0 — 56
Panthers 0 14 0 7 — 21
Salina South — Ryan Fox 6 run (Cameron Weishaar), 9:04
Salina South — Mike Jones 5 run (Weishaar kick), 6:39
Salina South — Justin Stonebreaker 9 run (Weishaar kick), 2;18
Great Bend — Josh Lopez 3 run (Mario Espino kick), 10:25
Salina South — Mike Jones 88 run (Weishaar kick), 10:06
Great Bend — Jonathan Allende 54 run (Espino kick), 8:48
Salina South — Jones 57 run (Weishaar kick), 5:54
Salina South — Aaron Mar 15 pass from Stonebreaker (Weishaar kick), 7:44
Salina South — Jones 75 run (Weishaar kick), 5:19
South — Jones 90 run (Weishaar kick), 0:27.3
Great Bend — Allende 31 run (Espino kick), 7:59