Running back Mike Jones of Salina South High School turned the statewide-televised Class 5A District 7 football game on Cox channel 22 into his own personal highlight reel.
Jones, a superlative Cougars 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.
“He’s a great running back, and we made him look like a first-team All-American headed to the University of Alabama at the same time,” Great Bend head coach Bo Black said.
The Cougars finished with 672 net yards, including 525 rushing yards, despite playing without senior star Cody Busby, out with a turf-toe injury.
It made for a train wreck for Great Bend in its final game of the season.
“Defensively, it goes without saying that it was kind of an embarrassment on our part,” Black said. “We never slowed him down.
“We knew going in that they were very good offensively. When you follow their body of work all year, we knew it was going to be a daunting task. Physically, they handed it to us up front and we were beat down on every single play.”
Jones, who had a 28-yard scoring run in the first quarter, torched the Panthers for five total touchdowns, also breaking loose for eye-popping 90-, 88-, 75- and 57-yard touchdown bolts.
“Once he broke it into the open, there was no chance of catching him,” Black said.
Jones, who suffered a slight concussion a week ago during the Cougars’ 35-6 manhandling of Hays, showed he was fully healed — and then some.
Jones, a state runner-up sprinter in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes in track and field in the spring, had three first-half touchdowns to zap the Panthers and put 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.
“I thought both of our running backs played extremely hard, and maybe it was as hard as Josh Lopez has run all year,” Black said. “Offensively, I thought we battled well against a good defense, but we were never in the game defensively. It hurt that we didn’t have (senior defensive end) Chad Touslee, who was out because of sickness. He didn’t practice all week.”
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.
“It was just never close,” Black said. “We never slowed them down to give our offense an opportunity.
“It was not how we wanted to close the season and it’s hard to find anything positive to say with the season ending that way. We played three of the best teams that we have played all year in the last three games. To end this way, 5-4, it might have been acceptable 12 years ago, and now it’s just really disappointing.”
South, the district champion, improves to 8-1 and will play a bi-district state playoff game this Friday night at home against Goddard.
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
Salina South — Jones 90 run (Weishaar kick), 0:27.3
Great Bend — Allende 31 run (Espino kick), 7:59
First Downs 20 12
Total Net Yards 672 300
Rushes-yards 48-524 36-216
Passing 148 84
Comp-Att-Int 5-6-0 10-16-1
Punts-Avg 1-38.0 6-36.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1 - 0
Penalties-Yards 3-40 1-15
RUSHING — Salina South, Jones 24-410, Stonebraker 10-71, McCullough 9-23, Wassenburg 4-14, Fox 1-6, Lewis 1-1; Great Bend, Lopez 19-110, Allende 7-92, Matt Marshall 4-8, Bryce Beck 4-3, Hunter Harrison 2-3.
PASSING — Salina South, Stonebraker 5-6-0 148; Great Bend, Marshall 9-14-0 73, Beck 1-3-1 11.
RECEIVING — Salina South, Mar 5-148; Great Bend, Brock Ibarra 4-20, Beck 3-30, Allende 1-12, Mitch Johnson 1-11, Zack Reynolds 1-11.
GBHS DEFENSIVE STATS
Harrison 13 tackles, Ethan Henderson 8 tackles, 1 Tackle For Loss, fumble recovery; Greg Burley 8 tackles, Bryce Hofmeister 8 tackles, Gunar Brewer 7 tackles; Justin Henry 6 tackles; Jayce Brack 5 tackles; Chris Burley 5 tackles.