Olathe A soggy field made it difficult for Veritas Christian ball carriers to run to the outside, and a solid Kansas City Christ Prep defense made it just as hard for the Eagles to go up the middle in a 40-18 loss Tuesday at Heritage Park in the first round of the KCAA playoffs.
"We weren't able to use our speed on this field," Veritas coach Doug Bennett said. "They had age and maturity on us. Most of our interior linemen are freshmen and sophomores.
"We have a bright future, but when we meet teams of primarily juniors and seniors, it poses a problem for us."
Veritas, which had only two seniors among the 18 players on its roster, finished 7-3 in its first season of varsity football.
"You don't expect to lose in the first round, but I feel pretty proud of our season," said junior quarterback Casey Woods, who completed 16 of 30 passes for 123 yards. "I think all our guys do. We only lose two guys. We're going to have six or seven seniors next year, and I think some more people will probably join us."
Paul Kempf joined Veritas for his senior season after transferring from Lawrence High and emerged as one of the fledgling program's top players. He caught nine passes for 87 yards in his final prep game and also completed two halfback passes for 57 yards.
"It was a lot of fun," Kempf said. "I wish it could have ended a little differently."
Christ Prep, which had a 48-man roster that dwarfed the opposition, bolted to a 14-0 lead after first-quarter touchdown runs by Mark Hoggard and Garrett Mann.
Veritas pulled within 14-6 on a three-yard TD run by Jesse Schultz with 7:15 left in the second quarter, but Christ Prep (6-4) tacked on two more scores before the break. Quarterback Peter Burton scored on a three-yard keeper, and Mann later added a one-yard TD with 59.2 seconds left in the half.
Hopes for a Veritas rally took a big hit when Burton returned the second half's opening kickoff 68 yards for a touchdown and a 34-6 lead.
"You'd think that would break our backs, but we didn't let it," Bennett said. "We had some nice drives after that, but it made it tough to come back."
Veritas came back with a 17-play, 60-yard drive. Schultz's second TD, a one-yard run, pulled the Eagles within 34-12. The junior finished with 45 yards on 21 carries.
The lengthy drive, which included four fourth-down conversions, made the score more respectable, but it also took more than 11 minutes off the clock.
Veritas cut the deficit to 34-18 with 4:58 to play when Kempf hauled in a 13-yard pass from Woods. But the Patriots covered the Eagles' onside kick, and Hoggard sealed the victory three plays later with a 44-yard reverse.
"Our kids are disappointed," Bennett said, "but they're encouraged by what they accomplished this season and excited about next year."