Perry-Lecompton prepared for rematch with Andale in Class 3A state championship game

photo by: Photo courtesy of PLHS

Perry-Lecompton's football team after winning its sub-state matchup against Holton Friday night at PLHS on Nov. 20, 2020. The Kaws are headed to the state championship game and will face Andale for the second year in a row. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday at Gowans Stadium at Hutchinson Community College.

When Perry-Lecompton head coach Mike Paramore first started watching game film of Andale in preparation for today’s state championship game, he thought he’d made a mistake: This year’s footage of the defending champs looked just like last year’s.

“They look the same,” said Paramore, who has led Perry-Lecompton (11-1) for 20 years. “I almost wondered if I put the wrong tape in when I started looking at it. These guys just keep rolling. They do what they do and they are extremely well-coached.”

Paramore knew the basics before he ever popped in the tape, though. Andale has won 24 games in a row, including a 35-7 victory against Perry-Lecompton in last year’s 3A state championship game. The last time Andale lost was on Nov. 16, 2018. No team has scored more than 21 points against the Indians all year; they’ve given up an average of 7.09 points per game; and they’ve also scored at least 40 points in each of their 11 outings this season. And the team hasn’t given up a touchdown since Oct. 30, meaning today’s matchup at Hutchinson Community College figures be a defensive slugfest.

What’s more, the program owns four state crowns — 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2019. The Kaws’ daunting challenge is to prevent it from getting its fifth.

“They have a really good football program,” Paramore said. “A lot of tradition down there, and expectations are always high. Our margin for error is thin. We have to play extremely well. We have to continue to do what we have been doing.”

But the Kaws, who have made it to back-to-back state championship games for the first time in team history, expect things to be different this time around. For one, they don’t expect to be as nervous as they were last year.

The Kaws weren’t used to playing such a high-stakes game last year, and those jitters allowed Andale to take the lead 13 seconds into the game. Perry-Lecompton did manage to claw back to within striking distance, but Andale then pulled away in the final period by scoring 14 points.

This year, the Kaws have a better idea of what to expect in the week leading up to the big game. They have more of a business approach to this week’s matchup, and they seem extremely focused on what is at stake.

“I feel like the nerves of going there and the excitement of going there are still there,” senior Thad Metcalfe said. “But I feel like it is a different type of experience. We know what to expect and know the feeling.”

That attitude has touched every part of Perry-Lecompton’s preparations, including the team’s travel plans. Last year, the Kaws traveled and played on the same day; this time, they planned to drive down to Hutchinson the night before and stay in a hotel, based on advice that Paramore received from other coaches.

“It’s night and day different,” senior Hayden Robb said. “Last year, you could tell that everybody was just excited to get the opportunity to play. Now, since we have been there, we want it now and we are locked in and ready to go battle.”

Perry-Lecompton’s senior-led squad has already adapted to tough challenges this season, including having to replace starting quarterback William Welch after a season-ending injury early on. Metcalfe has been the starting quarterback ever since, completing 79 of 123 passes for 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has also added 1,213 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on 194 rushing attempts.

At running back, junior Reichen Rush has piled up 933 yards and 11 scores on 103 carries. Senior Parker Stone has been a go-to option in the passing game, posting 28 receptions for 544 yards and five touchdowns.

Perry-Lecompton’s stingy defense is led by three players who have more than 100 tackles each this year. Senior Ryley Besler leads the unit with 135 stops, including 77 solo tackles, for an average of 11.3 tackles per game. Robb and senior Jackson Folks have 125 and 102 tackles, respectively.

“We just have to go out and be who we are,” Metcalfe said. “Our line is going to have to be real physical with them. Defensively, we are going to have to come out and play smash-mouth football like we have against Holton and Hayden and just continue that success on the defensive side.”

Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. today at Gowans Stadium at Hutchinson Community College.


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