Firebirds advance to quarterfinals with 51-27 win

photo by: Mike Yoder

Free State's Jax Dineen (33) leaves defenders behind him as he picks up yardage in a 6A sub-state game against Haysville-Campus Friday night at FSHS.

Aside from just seven plays, Free State’s football team handled another opponent with ease during its perfect season.

Free State coughed up a few turnovers, but were seemingly always in control during a 51-27 win over Haysville-Campus Friday at FSHS. The win gave the Firebirds (10-0) a regional championship, as they advanced to the 6A quarterfinals for a meeting with Manhattan High.

“I’m proud of our guys,” FSHS head coach Bob Lisher said. “With the exception of seven plays, I thought we dominated the football game.”

photo by: Mike Yoder

Free State quarterback Malik Berry runs through Haysville-Campus defenders in a 6A sub-state game Friday night at FSHS.

Perhaps the best illustration of how big a few plays can swing a game occured in the third quarter during a wild postseason affair.

Free State attempted to catch Haysville-Campus (6-4) off guard on fourth down from its own 30-yard line. Tyler Bowden took the direct snap and ran ahead one yard before getting stuffed by the Colts’ defense just one yard shy of a first down.

On the ensuing possession, the Colts appeared to trim the deficit to a one-score game with a touchdown pass. It was ultimately negated, however, due to an ineligible man downfield. The next play, junior Lovette Epelle chased down Campus quarterback Evan Kruse, who was called for intentional grounding after trying to throw the ball away to avoid the sack.

Firebirds senior linebacker Matt Georgie eventually recovered a fumble on fourth down to end the Colts drive inside Free State’s 10-yard line.

“That is what shut it out completely,” Georgie said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Free State’s Keenan Garber (1) returns an interception for a touchdown in a 6A sub-state game against Wichita Haysville Campus Friday night at FSHS.

The Firebirds responded with a crucial offensive drive, in which they leaned on runs by senior running back Jax Dineen and junior quarterback Malik Berry. Junior Turner Corcoran, senior Shane Skwarlo, senior Kyle Flachsbarth, senior Zach Rasys and junior Ryan Lutz created holes for the team’s dominant run game all night.

Dineen then capped the decisive drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to give FSHS a 37-14 advantage.

“Like coach says, ‘Just make big plays,'” Dineen said. “We need to make big plays to win the game. In the playoffs, it doesn’t matter who you are playing, everyone is going to give you a good game.”

photo by: Mike Yoder

Free State senior Matt Georgie blocks a punt in the Haysville-Campus end zone for a safety in the first half of a Firebird 6A sub-state game Friday night at FSHS.

Dineen shouldered the load on the offensive, accumulating 164 yards and two scores on 21 carries. Tyler Bowden carried the ball seven times, all of which came in the second half, en route to a 97-yard performance with one touchdown. As a team, FSHS finished with 317 rushing yards on 41 attempts.

But the stellar defensive showing helped Free State notch a seventh consecutive trip to the quarterfinals.

Senior linebackers Jalen Nash and Skwarlo were constantly in the backfield with Dineen and Georgie, who also blocked a punt for a safety to spot the Firebirds an early 2-0 advantage. Senior Keenan Garber recorded two interceptions, including a 55-yard pick-six during the opening period to help FSHS take a 9-0 lead.

Senior corners Oliver Paranjothi and Jaxon Malone did their best to maintain the Colts’ passing attack, which finished with 154 yards on 38 attempts.

“They were throwing the ball around just like how we thought they were going to,” Georgie said. “We just tried our best to stop it.”

photo by: Mike Yoder

Free State’s Jaxson Webb (15) pulls in a first-half reception for yards in a 6A sub-state game against Haysville-Campus Friday night at FSHS.

Meanwhile, Berry went 9 of 16 for 133 yards and three passing touchdowns for the Firebirds. Berry linked up with Garber, as well as seniors Jaxson Webb and LJ Mack for scoring connections.

Berry also threw two interceptions, while FSHS fumbled a kick return in the win. It allowed Haysville-Campus to stay within two scores until the third quarter.

“We gave them three touchdowns on our offensive mistakes,” Lisher said. “I thought we did a great job (defensively). Overall, I thought our guys did a pretty good job stopping them.”

Free State plays host to Manhattan (9-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.



First downs 18 | 12

Rushes-yards 41-317 | 22-181

Passing yards 133 | 154

Total offense 450 | 335

Fumbles-lost 2-1 | 2-1

Interceptions 2 | 2

Penalties-yards 5-50 | 8-70

Score by quarters

Haysville-Campus 0 14 0 13 — 27

Free State 9 21 7 14 — 51

Individual statistics


HC: Sam Wise 12-149, Cameron Harvey 6-24, Mateo Martinez 2-4, Evan Kruse 2-4

FS: Jax Dineen 21-164, Malik Berry 8-39, Tyler Bowden 7-97, Keenan Garber 2-4, Jaxson Webb 1-5, Ja’Brandian Douglas 1-4, LJ Mack 1-4


HC: 14-38-154

FS: Berry 9-16-133


HC: Tyler Kahmann 4-64, Quinton Hicks 4-32, Harvey 6-58

FS: Garber 3-48, Mack 3-56, Webb 3-29


First quarter

2:45 — Matt Georgie blocks punt to force a safety. (FS 2, HC 0)

1:52 — Keenan Garber 55 interception return. Joey Wood kick good. (FS 9, HC 0)

Second quarter

10:38 — Tyler Kahmann 36 pass from Evan Kruse. Peyton Kondo kick good. (FS 9, HC 7)

9:26 — Keenan Garber 34 pass from Malik Berry. Wood kick good. (FS 16, HC 7)

7:07 — Jax Dineen 1 run. Wood kick good. (FS 23, HC 7)

3:55 — LJ Mack 28 pass from Berry. Wood kick good. (FS 30, HC 7)

1:48 — Quinton Hicks 9 pass from Kruse. Kondo kick good. (FS 30, HC 14)

Third quarter

3:45 — Dineen 13 run. Wood kick good. (FS 37, HC 14)

Fourth quarter

9:25 — Jaxson Webb 10 pass from Berry. Wood kick good. (FS 44, HC 14)

3:44 — Kahmann 8 pass from Kruse. Kondo kick good. (FS 44, HC 21)

3:19 — Tyler Bowden 20 run. Wood kick good. (FS 51, HC 21)

2:38 — Sam Wise 63 run. Conversion failed. (FS 51, HC 27)


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