Blake Burns earned his first head coaching victory at Columbus when his Titans knocked off St. Mary’s Colgan 21-14 in CNC League football action on Friday at Hutchinson Field in Pittsburg.
“Our kids showed up really focused and they did a great job of executing our game plan,” Burns said. “The kids have done a great job all summer and during fall camp of buying into our concepts and philosophies of things we want to accomplish.”
The Titans suffered a 40-6 loss to the Panthers in last year’s meeting.
Earning a road win against an always-solid Colgan program was a stellar way to begin a new season for his team, Burns noted.
“It’s good to get the first win out of the way," Burns said. "Opening the season against Colgan is never easy. Their kids are disciplined and their coaches do a great job of getting their kids ready to go. We told our kids we’d have to match their execution and not give them easy opportunities.”
Columbus finished with 233 yards of offense, with 139 passing and 94 rushing. Senior quarterback Patrick Cassidy completed 10-of-16 passes with one touchdown.
“Patrick does a great job of leading our offense,” Burns said. “He’s incredibly athletic and he’s worked really hard to become a complete quarterback. He’s worked hard on his footspeed and he’s worked hard in the weight room to get stronger. He’s a phenomenal leader. The kids know they can count on him in key moments.”
The Panthers compiled 256 yards of offense. Gianni Piccini was 9-of-15 passing for 94 yards and two scores.
Columbus struck first when senior running back Grayson Walden scored on a 7-yard run. Colgan tied it up when Piccini connected with Andrew Lomshek for a 29-yard touchdown strike.
The Titans took a 14-7 lead when Cassidy completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Clay Saporito. Later, Cassidy’s 6-yard QB keeper made it 21-7.
Colgan’s Kannon Keller hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass with just over six minutes left in the contest.
The Panthers got the ball back with 2:13 left, but the Titans came up with a defensive stand to preserve the win. Kaden Crain had an interception in the final seconds.
“Defensively, our defensive line played phenomenal,” Burns said. “They did a great job of plugging gaps and holding their ground. They made it hard for Colgan to run inside. I also have to give a lot of credit to Grayson Walden (linebacker) and Clay Saporito (defensive back).”
In Week 2 matchups in Kansas, Columbus (1-0) hosts Coffeyville (0-1) on Friday, while Colgan (0-1) hosts Frontenac (1-0) on Thursday.
“We just have to do what got us a win last week,” Burns said. “We have to tackle well, limit mistakes and execute offensively.”