By William

NEWTON – Little River went to Newton on Saturday and found themselves in a battle for the record books as they took on Wichita County and played to a 70-58 victory and the State 8-Man Division I State Championship Trophy.

Winning their first state championship since 1999, and sixth overall, when they were playing Class 1A, the Redskins did it while sharing the record books with Wichita County as the two teams combined for 18 touchdowns and 907 total combined yards in offense, including 592 yards rushing and another 316 passing. Despite all the offense, each team had one turnover and miraculously, neither team was flagged for a single penalty.

“The game was one for the record books,” noted Little River Head Coach Kevin Ayers after the game. “Watching game film, we thought it would be a high scoring game, but not quite like this.”

In just his second season at Little River, Coach Ayers had been there before as he established himself winning state titles at both Jetmore and Wallace County in previous years, including a state title victory over Little River while at Jetmore.

The state championship caps off a ebb and flow season for the Redskins as they finish the 2020 season with an 11-2 record, losing just twice in the regular season to top ranked teams like Canton/Galva and Clifton/Clyde before handling top ranked Madison in the state semifinals, all while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic harboring in the shadows of the season.

Coach Ayers continued his post-game reflections by adding, “Wichita County’s offense had so many weapons and they do a great job getting their playmakers the ball. But I was extremely proud of how our kids didn’t get rattled and every time they made a big play, our kids answered.”

Little River scored a whopping eight touchdowns in the first half, including four in each quarter as Jayden Garrison ran for three scores in the first quarter alone while Graham Stephens ran for the other. In the second quarter Stephens scored twice and Garrison once while Braden Young caught an eight-yard pass from Stephens for the other.

Unfortunately, Wichita county scored three times in the first quarter, including a 78-yard kickoff return. But the Redskins were able to hold them to just one score in the second stanza to give Little River a seemingly good cushion 54-30 advantage going into the halftime break.

Wichita County was not done though as they pulled within 12 by the end of the third quarter at 62-50 by scoring three more times and holding the Redskins to just score on a 43-yard pass play from Garrison to Braxton Lafferty.

Both teams traded scores in the final quarter, giving the Redskins the 70-58 state title victory.

“Football is such a game of momentum and our kids fought all night to keep it on our side,” said Coach Ayers as he continued to reflect on the high scoring battle. “If they blink for a moment, Wichita County grabs it and we would have struggled.”

Speaking of his players and team effort, Coach Ayers continued by saying, “So proud of all the unsung heroes on our team. Our offensive line and the guys who block on the edge came up big on offense. We were nine-for-nine in the passing game as our pass protection was spot on. Wichita County gave us a lot of different looks up front and for the most part our kids handled it well.”

Individually, Little River was led by the two-headed offensive monster of Jayden Garrison and Graham Stephens as they both shared time at quarterback and combined to go nine-for-nine passing for 135 yards and three scores.

Running the ball Garrison ran for 194 yards on 27 carries while Stephens toted the ball 26 times for another 133 yards, and they combined for seven running touchdowns.

Braxton Lafferty was on the receiving end of four passes for 70 yards and a score while Garrison covered 57 yards and a score while on the receiving end of four other Stephen passes.

Defensively, Stephens led the Redskins with 8.5 tackles, including six solo stops and one for a loss of yardage while Garrison recorded 5.5 tackles with five of those solo. Braden Young and Lafferty each chipped in with 4.5 total tackles, with Lafferty stopping Wichita County runners for a loss of yardage twice.

Capping off the championship day, Coach Ayers concluded his reflections on the game and season by noting, “This group of young men overcame so much this season and we needed them to rise up – they did!”

LITTLE RIVER vs. Wichita County

(All Stats from

SCORING:                 1          2          3          4          FINAL

LITTLE RIVER               28        26        8          8          70

Wichita County           22        8          20        8          58

(Team, Player/Scoring Play, Extra Point Attempt, Overall Score)


LITTLE RIVER = Jayden Garrison scored on a 37-yard run (2-point conversion failed) 6-0

Wichita County = Scored on a 78-yard kickoff return (2-point conversion failed) 6-6

LITTLE RIVER = Jayden Garrison scored on a 1-yard run (2-point conversion failed) 12-6

LITTLE RIVER = Graham Stephens scored on a 9-yard run (Jayden Garrison ran for 2-point conversion) 20-6

Wichita County = Scored on a 63-yard run (2-point conversion was good) 20-14

LITTLE RIVER = Jayden Garrison scored on a 49-yard run (Jayden Garrison ran for 2-point conversion) 28-14

Wichita County = Scored on a 68-yard pass play (2-point conversion was good) 28-22


LITTLE RIVER = Jayden Garrison scored on a 27-yard pass from Graham Stephens (2-point conversion failed) 34-22

Wichita County = Scored on a 22-yard pass play (2-point conversion was good) 34-30

LITTLE RIVER = Graham Stephens scored on a 16-yard run (2-point conversion failed) 40-30

LITTLE RIVER = Graham Stephens scored on a 6-yard run (2-point conversion failed) 46-30

LITTLE RIVER = Braden Young scored on an 8-yard pass from Graham Stephens (Ty Herzog ran for 2-point conversion) 54-30


Wichita County = Scored on a 43-yard run (2-point conversion was good) 54-38

Wichita County = Scored on a 2-yard run (2-point conversion failed) 54-44

LITTLE RIVER = Braxton Lafferty scored on a 43-yard pass from Jayden Garrison (Braxton Lafferty ran for 2-point conversion) 62-44

Wichita County = Scored on a 7-yard pass play (2-point conversion failed) 62-50


LITTLE RIVER = Jayden Garrison scored on a 4-yard run (Graham Stephens ran for 2-point conversion) 70-50

Wichita County = Scored on a 1-yard run (2-point conversion was good) 70-58

TEAM STATS:                                   LITTLE RIVER               Wichita County

1st Downs                                            24                                19

Total Offense (Plays-Yds-Tds)            62-462-10                    56-445-7

Passing (Comp-Atts-Yds-Tds-Int)       9-9-135-3-0                 16-19-181-3-1

Rushing (Atts-Yds-Tds)                       53-327-7                      36-265-4

Turnovers (Fumbles-Lost-Int)            1-1-0                            0-0-1

Penalties (#-Yds)                                 0-0                               0-0


Passing (Comp-Atts-Yds-Tds-Int):

Jayden Garrison = 4-4-70-1-0

Graham Stephens = 5-5-65-2-0

Rushing (Atts-Yds-Tds):

Jayden Garrison 27-194-4

Graham Stephens 26-133-3

Receiving (Rec-Yds-Tds):

Braxton Lafferty 4-70-1

Jayden Garrison 4-57-1

Braden Young 1-8-1

Defense (Tackles-Solo-Assist-Sacks-TFL):

Graham Stephens 8.5-6-5-0.0-1.0

Jayden Garrison 5.5-5-1-0.0-0.0

Braden Young 4.5-4-1-0.0-0.0

Braxton Lafferty 4.5-2-5-0.0-2.0

Grant Stephens 3.5-2-3-0.0-0.0

Joshua Braden 3.0-3-0-0.0-2.0

Keaton Richardson 3.0-3-0-0.0-0.0

Riley Konen 1.0-1-0-0.0-0.0

Rest of Team 9.5-8-3-0.0-1.0

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