BURLINGTON - After a heart-wrenching one-point loss to the Burlington Wildcats in the first round of the 2017 Kansas High School Football KSHSAA 4A DII Playoffs, the Titan's season has come to a close.
Columbus fought valiantly, nearly riding a fourth-quarter comeback wave all the way, but ultimately fell 22-21. As the Regional Champions, the Wildcats move on to face Hayden in the Sectional round. Hayden manhandled Prairie View in the first round 48-6.
Columbus finished the season with a record of 7-3, including postseason, and went undefeated at home this year. They scored a total of 360 points across their 10 games, and only gave up 146 points all season.
The Titans looked poised for another victory Friday night in Burlington, leading 13-8 at halftime, but the Wildcats refused to give up. It was truly a rushing showcase, as both teams put up impressive numbers on the ground. Burlington's star player, senior quarterback Connor Jeffers, has been indomitable all season, and the Wildcats played to that strength. Jeffers rushed for 143 yards on 23 carries, scoring all three of Burlington's touchdowns on the ground. Wildcat sophomore Cael Johnson made a notable dent as well, picking up 63 on nine carries. Behind center, Jeffers completed just two of six passes, for 48 yards. 40 of those yards were courtesy of Johnson's sole catch of the game.
On paper, Columbus would have looked like the winning team. Senior quarterback Ridge Smith threw for 65 yards (11-for-20 with one touchdown), opposed to Burlington's 48 passing yards. The Wildcats finished with a team total of 213 rushing yards, while Columbus racked up 288.
The bulk of those yards came from senior Keenan Stanley. Stanley sprinted for 156 yards on 28 carries, with one touchdown. R. Smith had the other rushing touchdown. In five carries R. Smith picked up 63 yards. Utilizing their depth in the running game: Sophomore Grayson Walden ran for 26 yards on three carries, senior Zach Porter picked up 24 yards on three carries, and senior Dakota Sears finished with 19 yards on five carries. Stanley led the team in receptions as well, with three for 17 yards. Sophomore Caden Soper's single 10-yard catch was the team's sole receiving touchdown.