GARDNER, Kan. — Several Kansas City-area football teams are looking to earn state trophies this weekend.
But the high school in Gardner, Kansas, hopes to make history and bring home its first ever 6A state title. Players said they’re fighting for the entire community behind them.
The Gardner Edgerton Trailblazers are state bound. Their football players are gearing up for the big game against Manhattan High School.
On the scoreboard at practice, head coach Jesse Owen had a reminder of what happened last time the two teams played each other. The Blazers lost by one field goal.
But Saturday, the Blazers have a shot at redemption and their first 6A title.
“We’ve been working hard for months now at this point,” senior Andrew Kamtio said. “So it’s really exciting that a lot of hard work paid off, and now we’re here.”
Owen knows Manhattan will be a tough matchup, but he’s confident in his team and his players.
“Our guys have just been extremely focused and dialed in, and they’re also, it’s an extremely unselfish group. They’re just very selfless,” Owen said.
“We don’t have a lot of guys with individual egos, and the guys have accepted their roles and they just do whatever they can to just help their teammates be successful.”
Last week, Gardner Edgerton beat Olathe Northwest 56-7 to earn a spot in the championship game. This is only the second time in the school’s 56-year history the football team has gone to state, according to the district.
“It’s hard to get here, and there have been a lot of good teams and coaches and players that have helped build this program into what it is,” Owen said, “And so, our kids take great pride in playing for all those that came before us.”
Senior Dexter Carr said their team has built a strong bond, and every game they leave it all out on the field.
“The team, the effort, we’re all like this,” Carr said.
They had a community event Friday to meet the players, play some games and pick up some swag, like Blazer sweatshirts, ahead of Saturday’s game in Emporia.
“We’re a one high school town,” Owen said. “There’s no other show in town on Friday.”
Carr and Kamtio want to earn a championship ring to make their families and this community proud.
“It would definitely mean a lot because our school’s never done it before,” Kamtio said. “So for us to be the first it would definitely be incredible.”
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Emporia State’s Welch Stadium.
The Blazers aren’t the only local team fighting for a trophy; Mill Valley, Miege and Lee’s Summit North also play for state titles this weekend.
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