HOLTON, Kan. – Frontenac coach Mark Smith knows last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss to Holton was somewhere in the back of his players’ minds during the rematch with the Wildcats on Friday night in the Class 4A Division II quarterfinals.
Perhaps that was a good thing for the Raiders, who never let off the throttle during a 55-21 dismantling of the Wildcats.
After surrendering a 21-point, fourth-quarter lead in last season’s loss to Holton, Frontenac grabbed the momentum early in the second quarter and continued to roll, reeling off 49 straight points.
“It definitely had to creep into everybody’s minds,” Smith said of last season’s loss to Holton. “But our kids were playing with so much confidence and playing so hard. Once they started playing football, they forgot about it and kept competing and making plays.”
The Raiders (8-3) will play host to Topeka Hayden in the semifinals next week.
Frontenac struck first on a 32-yard touchdown pass to Broc Ginavan, but Holton led 13-6 at the end of the first quarter after rushing touchdowns from Jackson Martin and A.J. Haussler.
Frontenac knotted it up at 13 on a 10-yard run from Jake Wilbert and took the lead on a one-yard plunge from Wilbert after Holton turned it over on downs in its own territory.
Holton then coughed it up on an errant pitch on the option and Frontenac cashed in with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ginavan. The Raiders took a 34-13 lead into halftime after outscoring the Wildcats 28-0 in the second frame.
“We got that first touchdown, which was huge, and they scored 13 unanswered and I thought, ‘Oh, boy, they’re gashing us,’ ” Smith said. “Our kids handled that adversity, went back and answered with a touchdown. We got rolling in the second quarter and got some big touchdowns.
“Our kids came out and had a chip on our shoulder from last year. We’ve kind of wanted to play these guys again since last year. We came out and played very well.”
Holton had another bad pitch early in the third quarter that led to the Raiders’ first TD of the half, a five-yard from Andrew Johnson.
“In this kind of game, you can’t turn the ball over, and we didn’t execute,” Holton coach Brooks Barta said. “They were very, very good in their offensive execution and we were very, very average for what we do.”
Everyone who touched the ball made plays for the Raiders. Wilbert ran for 106 yards and three touchdown while Frontenac quarterback Peyton Brown threw for 121 yards and three TDs, including two to Ginavan.
Brendan Ishimura also caught a touchdown from Brown and Johnson scored twice on the ground.
“Lately, we’ve been spreading the ball around and making it hard on the defense,” Smith said. “We got so many playmakers.
“It was just a tremendous offense effort. But our defense has been the backbone of the team and they got a lot of stops tonight.”