Resilient Kaws ready for rematch with Holton in Class 3A semifinals

photo by: Courtesy photo

Perry-Lecompton's football team poses with a sectional plaque after a 49-14 win over LaCygne-Prairie View HS at PLHS on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. The Kaws are one win away from a second-straight trip to the Class 3A state championship game.

Perry-Lecompton is slated for a 3A semifinals matchup with Holton on Friday, and Senior Thad Metcalfe still remembers what happened the last time the teams met.

In the regular-season meeting between these two teams, which occurred in Week 3, senior quarterback William Welch went down with a season-ending injury. Welch sustained a knee injury on a pass play, where he tried to make something happen during the third quarter.

“It was definitely a blow,” Metcalfe said. “He went down on their sideline. At first, I was like get up Billy, and he didn’t get up. I knew something was wrong automatically because he’s not a guy that’s just going to lay there if he is kind of injured.”

At the time, Perry-Lecompton was in a 14-14 deadlock with Holton on the road. It proved to be a pivotal game, too, as it was the difference in hosting or traveling for the Class 3A semifinal showdown.

“Everybody at first was a little bit shell-shocked,” PLHS head coach Mike Paramore said. “They were upset and concerned with what is going on with Billy, but they also realized what is in front of them and they needed to take care of that too.”

Metcalfe, who was the team’s starting running back, stepped in as the signal caller after Welch went down. Junior Reichen Rush then took Metcalfe’s spot as the starting running back.

And the Kaws went to work.

Perry-Lecompton scored the final two touchdowns of the night over the last 15 minutes of action. Rush scored on a 30-yard touchdown run late in the third period, while Metcalfe netted a 6-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

It is still Holton’s lone loss of the season, as it enters this week’s matchup with a 9-1 overall record. For Perry-Lecompton (10-1), that win illustrated this team’s ability to overcome adversity throughout the 2020 campaign.

“I love the resilience of our guys,” Paramore said. “I think anybody surviving (is resilient). It is a different world. We talked about trying to find a new normal, even though it is different than what they envisioned. Anybody that can keep hanging in there and plugging away has got my respect.”

That mentality really started during a pandemic-adjusted offseason for the Kaws, who brought back plenty of key players after making it to the Class 3A state championship game a season ago. They had similar expectations this time around, though with the hopes of securing a state title in late November.

Perry-Lecompton had to do strength and conditioning in a couple different barns over the summer in an attempt to practice social distancing. PLHS then dealt with schedule changes during a weird regular season, but still managed to play every game this year.

Since Welch was sidelined in Week 3, Metcalfe has grown into his role as the team’s starting quarterback. It helped that the two spent plenty of time working out together in the offseason, and that Welch is still around the program to help out Metcalfe when necessary.

“He’s been a big factor in helping me grow and build as a quarterback,” Metcalfe said. “He’s a good guy and good friend. He really stepped in and helped me.”

For the season, Metcalfe is 63-for-101 for 1,065 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. He is averaging 96.8 passing yards per game. Metcalfe is still a big rushing threat, too, recording 1,096 yards and 22 touchdowns on 171 rushing attempts.

Rush, a junior tailback, has filled in quite well at Metcalfe’s old position. Rush has recorded 918 rushing yards and 11 scores on 98 carries for the year. Senior Sean Urban anchors an offensive line that helps pave the way for Rush.

“We knew (Rush) was a good player,” Paramore said. “He’s been able to show what he can do. I’ve been so proud of Reichen and what he’s done.”

Rush helped Perry-Lecompton pull away in that regular-season meeting with Holton, but PLHS is expecting another tough battle with everything that is on the line. With a win, the Kaws can earn back-to-back trips to the state title game for the first time in program history.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday at Perry-Lecompton.


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