Indians blow past Little River into 8-man DI Semis
The offensive machine known as the Wichita County Indians showed why they have been able to make their deepest run in the KSHSAA Football Playoffs since 1990 on Friday in Leoti.
Jesse Gardner scored six rushing touchdowns, while Kayden Rietzke added a pair of TD runs and two TD passes to lift the Indians past Little River, 74-38, and to an 8-man Division I semifinal rematch with district foe St. Francis.
Wichita County (10-1) has scored 216 points in their three playoff wins and used strong second halves defensively to hold their leads. The Indians will look to wipe away the memories of a 46-0 loss to St. Francis in the regular season meeting between the two teams.
Gardner scored the first three touchdowns for the Indians, from 4, 34 and 4 yards out. Kayden Rietzke added two-point runs after the first two scores, then Gardner added the try after his third, pushing the edge for the boys from Leoti to 24-8 with 5 minutes, 22 seconds to go before halftime.
Rietzke then found the end zone to cap off a long drive, scoring from the Redskin 5 to push the edge to 32-8, following another Gardner two-point run, with 25 seconds left before halftime.
Little River (9-2) answered before halftime, as Keaton Richardson beat the coverage and hauled in a pass from Trey Rolfs from 40 yards out on the final play of the half. The two-point try was successful to make it a 32-16 Indian lead at the half.
The Redskins then scored twice early in the third quarter to pull with 32-30, on a 43-yard pass from Rolfs to Jordan Garrison, and a 45-yard scoring run by Garrison with 10:14 to go in the third.
That’s when the Wichita County defense stepped it up a notch, including recovering two fumbles, both gathered by Kendrix Loy, to help quiet the Little River offense.
The Indians blew the game open after that, scoring four straight TDs to take control for good. Three of the scores came off of Gardner runs of 10, 30 and 61 yards, which followed a 64-yard pass from Rietzke to Sheldon Whalen, pushing the Wichita County advantage to 60-30 with 2:32 left in the third.
A Rietzke 11-yard pass to Teagen Bishop six seconds into the 4th quarter extended the lead again, and after Little River added a TD, Rietzke capped off the night with a 44-yard scoring run.