St. Francis ends Wichita County dream FB run in semis
Shadyron Blanka turned the KSHSAA 8-Man Division I Semifinal contest at St. Francis into his personal showcase as to why he's one of the best football players in the state.
Blanka scored seven touchdowns - four rushing, two via interception returns and added a touchdown reception - to lead St. Francis to a 68-20 win over Wichita County and to the second championship game appearance in school history.
Blanka's performance, which accounted for more than 300 yards from scrimmage, combined with an injury late in the first half to Wichita County standout quarterback Kayde Rietzke, was enough to keep Sainty unbeaten at 12-0.
Blanka ran the ball 24 times for 259 yards and scored on runs of 42, 34, 9 and 56 yards, plus added a 42-yard TD catch from Brady Dinkle and interception returns of 52 and 15 yards. The final pick-six of the night was followed by a Blanka two-point run, and ended the game 37 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Rietzke did what he could, going 9-of-14 passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns, and ran the ball 12 times for 41 yards. It was the 12th carry that changed the momentum of the game.
Down 28-14 at the time, Rietzke led the Indians on a march deep into St. Francis territory. On a third-down run, the splendid junior ran to the left and tried to get into the end zone, but injured his left arm during the run, which was stopped at the St. Francis 1.
After an attempt to treat the injury, Rietzke did not return. Wichita County (10-2) was held out of the end zone on 4th-and-goal, and St. Francis would score on a TD pass from Dinkle to Blanka on the final play of the first half to switch the momentum for good.
Tristen Porter filled in for Rietzke at quarterback, and did have a 33-yard scoring strike to Sheldon Whalen in the third quarter, but the offense stalled in the second half.
St. Francis outgained Wichita County in the opening 24 minutes, 325-227, and allowed the most points they have in a game since narrowly escaping a 30-28 win at Hoxie during district play. For the game, St. Francis had a 412-283 advantage in total yards for the contest.
Wichita County ends their season with their deepest run since the 1990 team had their season also end in the semifinal round.
Amazingly, both teams have a bright future. St. Francis, who will be in 8-man Division II next season, loses just three seniors, while Wichita County loses just four 12th-graders from a roster of 28 players.