NEWTON – While Little River held a lead throughout the first half, Wichita County outscored the Redskins 34-14 in the final two quarters to gain a 54-36 victory and the Kansas 8-Man Division I state title.
The loss leaves Little River with an 11-2 overall record for the 2022 season as they lost the first and final games on their schedule.
“Our kids were warriors the way they left everything they had on the field,” noted Little River head coach Kevin Ayers.
Braxton Lafferty put Little River on the scoreboard first with a 50-yard scoring sprint in the first quarter that was followed by a one-yard dive into the end zone by Grant Stephens. After Braden Young and Lafferty ran for a pair of two-point conversions, Little River took an early 16-0 lead. Wichita County scored late in the quarter to close with eight at 16-6 heading into the second stanza.
While Wichita County put points on the board on 45- and 25-yard scoring runs in the second quarter, the Redskins had a long offensive drive ending with another Lafferty scoring run from one-yard out in between the two touchdowns to give Little River a narrow, two-point, 22-20 advantage heading into the halftime break.
After Little River put another score in the books to start the third quarter on a seven-yard run by Lafferty, Wichita County scored on runs of two and 19 yards before picking up a Little River fumble and rumbling to the end zone from 65 yards to take a commanding 42-28 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Little River pulled to within six at 42-36 early in the fourth when Lafferty connected with Braden Young for a six-yard scoring pass and catch only to have Wichita County score two more times on runs of 50 and nine yards to put the game and state title away with a final score of 54-36.
Concluding his post-game reflections, coach Ayers added, “With the injuries to a couple of key players we had to scramble a little bit, but I could not have been more proud of our team. This senior group of boys are leaving a legacy both on and off the field. Love those guys and we are going to miss them.”
Offensively the two teams played a near dead even game as Little River totaled 334 yards on 67 plays while making 14 first downs and Wichita County rolled up 395 yards on 58 snaps which was good for 19 first downs. Wichita County depending almost entirely on their rushing attack as they ran for 358 yards while only completing three passes for 37 yards.
For Little River, Rylan Konen and Braxton Lafferty split time at quarterback with Konen completing eight-of-twelve for 96 yards and Lafferty hitting on four-of-seven for 27.
Lafferty accounted for 138 of the teams 211 yards on the ground while Braden Young was the receiver of the day, catching six passes for 62 yards.
On defense, Grant Stephens led Little River with 15 total tackles of which 11 were solo stops. Stephens also had a stop for a loss of yardage and caused a fumble. Both Braden Young and Lafferty recorded 12 total tackles as Young had nine solo stops and Laffety had five.
LITTLE RIVER vs. Wichita County for 8-Man Division I State Title
SCORING: LITTLE RIVER 16-6-6-8=36; Wichita County 6-14-22-12=54
LITTLE RIVER: Braxton Lafferty scored on a 50-yard run (2-Point Conversion – Braden Young Run) 8-0
LITTLE RIVER: Grant Stephens scored on a 1-yard run (2-Point Conversion – Lafferty Run) 16-0
Wichita County: Scored on a 6-yard run (2-Point Conversion Failed) 16-6
Wichita County: Scored on a 45-yard run (2-Point Conversion was Good) 16-14
LITTLE RIVER: Braxton Lafferty scored on a 1-yard run (2-Point Conversion Failed) 22-14
Wichita County: Scored on a 25-yard run (2-Point Conversion Failed) 22-20
LITTLE RIVER: Braxton Lafferty scored on a 7-yard run (2-Point Conversion Failed) 28-20
Wichita County: Scored on a 2-yard run (2-Point Conversion was Good) 28-28
Wichita County: Scored on a 19-yard run (2-Point Conversion Failed) 28-34
Wichita County: Scored on a 65-yard fumble recovery run (2-Point Conversion was Good) 28-42
LITTLE RIVER: Braden Young scored on a 6-yard pass from Braxton Lafferty (2-Point Conversion – Rylan Konen Run) 36-42
Wichita County: Scored on a 50-yard run (2-Point Conversion Failed) 36-48
Wichita County: Scored on a 9-yard run (2-Point Conversion Failed) 36-54
LITTLE RIVER: 1st Downs – 14; Total Offense – 67 for 334; Passing – 12/19 for 123, 1 score, 1 interception; Rushing – 45 for 211, 4 scores; Fumbles – 1/1; Penalties – 5 for 17.
Wichita County: 1st Downs – 19; Total Offense – 58 for 395; Passing – 3/4 for 37, 2 scores; Rushing – 49 for 358, 5 scores; Fumbles – 2/2; Penalties – 7 for 73.
LITTLE RIVER INDIVIDUAL STATS:
Passing: Rylan Konen – 8/12 for 96, 1 interception; Braxton Lafferty – 4/7 for 27, 1 score.
Rushing: Braxton Lafferty – 29 for 138, 3 scores; Grant Stephens – 10 for 35, 1 score; Rylan Konen – 5 for 30; Team – 1 for 8.
Receiving: Braden Young – 6 for 62, 1 score; Andrew Smith – 1 for 39; Grant Stephens – 1 for 10; Rylan Konen – 1 for 7; Kayston Cox – 1 for 4; Braxton Lafferty – 1 for 1.
Defense: Grant Stephens – 15, 11 solo, 1 for loss, 1 caused fumble; Braden Young – 12, 9 solo; Braxton Lafferty – 12, 5 solo, 1 caused fumble; Kayston Cox – 7, 4 solo; Ruxton Birdson – 6, 3 solo; Rylan Konen – 5, 4 solo; Andrew Smith – 5, 3 solo; Kyler Bergkamp – 3, 2 solo; Carter Stansbury – 3, 2 solo; Corbin Herbst – 1.
(The Staff covering McPherson County Activities can be reached by email at email@example.com)