by David Brox, email@example.com
Piper is back in the semi-finals of the 4A state football tournament and face a huge challenge in the Bishop Miege Stags. It is no secret that Bishop Miege has been regarded as one of the best football teams (all classes) this season. This situation has a similar feel to the last time Piper was in the semi-finals when they traveled to Eudora to face Andrew Ballock and that talented crew. Coach Brindle who is in his 4th season as coach is enjoying the ride.
“(This group) has won 34 games and have gone 8-3 in eleven playoff games.”
The Stags have outscored Basehor-Linwood and Fort Scott 110-0 in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Stags are led by senior QB Ryan Willis who has had a dream season so far. Willis has 2451 yards, completing 62% of passes with 30 TD’s and just 6 INT’s. Dawson Downing is the Stags junior running back has 1668 yards and 23 TD’s. He averages 8.0 yards per carry which is just amazing. Sophomore Jafar Armstrong has 937 yards and 6 TD’s receiving. 5 receivers have over 100 yards receiving so needless to say they have many weapons to work with on the offensive side of the ball. This is all done with a very good offensive line that gives Willis plenty of time to throw and Downing a lot of room to run.
With all this said I am going to state that the best defense for these explosive weapons is the Piper offense. I feel strongly that Piper has been built and has played through out this playoff in a manner preparing for this match up. The Pirates will compete with Bishop Miege Friday if they are able to run the football, pickup first downs and run the clock. If Piper moves and control the ball like they did against Paola and finish drives with TD’s then we will be cooking with oil. Punting is not a horrible thing if you just picked up 3 first downs and took 4 minutes off the game clock.
I also go into the game with optimism that the Pirate front 7 will have some freedom and tackling ability to make the Stags work to run the ball. Collin Beebe, Colton Beebe and Jaelon Johnson will need to be able to clean up the middle to allow Sean Pahls and Kilil Richard to rush the edges. The Pirates come into the game with 42 sacks on the season and 81 TFL. Don’t get hung up on the Pirates getting sacks because the key for me is going to be getting Willis off his spot.
I have watched portions of 4 games and Willis gets the ball out quickly and accurately. Piper who plays aggressively in the secondary will have to reroute or jam the receivers. If Willis is throwing to his first read then the Pirates will not get to him and run the risk of getting beat deep. If there is a concern about the Pirates it is in their secondary. The Stags will present a formation similar to what Bonner Springs presented. This offense however has many different sets and is very well coached.
Miege is talented but so is Piper. Piper has 11 starters back on defense who have been in a solid program for years. Colton Beebe is still going to be the best overall football player on the field. I have complete faith in this coaching staff who has groomed this group to be a powerful and complete team.
Good luck to two very talented teams. I can’t wait to see this play out.