The Rock Creek Mustangs have found themselves in a roller coaster season with some highs and some lows.
One of the first high points of the year was the thrilling victory over the rival Wamego Red Raiders on Aug. 31. It all came down to a last-second 47-yard catch by senior Brandon Lutgen to put the Mustangs up, making the final score 28-27.
“[It was a] great first game, [and] it will help with rest of season,” football head coach Mike Beam said.
Next, Rock Creek hosted a Mid-East League foe, the Wabaunsee Chargers, on Sept. 7. It seemed to be over before it began, with Rock Creek using the momentum from the previous week by stomping the Chargers 40-22. The night’s top performer was senior running back Tyler Dillon, who rushed for 126 yards on eight carries, while putting one of those rushes in for a touchdown.
The season heated up after that with the Mustangs traveling to St. Marys on Sept. 14 to play the very comparable Bears. This game was a heart-stopper on numerous occasions, taking an incredible drive to finally win it at the end. Senior Jimmie Goodmiller caught a five-yard touchdown with 28 seconds remaining.
“Finished with the best play of the year,” Goodmiller said.
All night, the Mustangs defense was gashed by Bears running back Sojan Turentine, who rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns. But the Mustangs had their own impact players in the form of Lutgen, who had 95 receiving yards on two catches, highlighted by a 66-yard touchdown reception and a game-sealing interception. Junior Brett Hammett was the other impact player, with 243 yards passing and two touchdowns, but one interception.
A rematch from last year’s sub-state championship versus the Silver Lake Eagles took place on Sept. 21, and this game was no different, with the Eagles coming out ready to play and making the only bright spot of the Mustangs’ day a 21-yard receiving touchdown from Hammett to Lutgen in the first quarter. After that, it was all down hill, with the Eagles scoring 35 unanswered points.
“We’re still searching for those key guys,” Beam said at the time.
The Mustangs continued their tough two-game streak with Homecoming versus league rival the Rossville Bulldogs. The game began with the Mustangs dominating every aspect of the game with a 33-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter. But the Dawgs made a comeback that many deemed impossible by winning 36-33. For the heartbroken Mustangs, they once again had a bright spot in Dillon, who had 146 rushing yards on 18 carries with one touchdown.
“We blew it,” Lutgen said. “The offense and defense played hard, but gave it up in the end.”
For the first time in school history, the Mustangs played the Kansas City Christ Preparatory School Patriots on Oct. 5. It turned into a runaway for the Mustangs, as they defeated the Patriots 56-32. The Mustang offense stepped up in a huge way, as they totaled 459 yards rushing, highlighted by Lutgen, who rushed for 149 yards on five carries with two touchdowns, and Goodmiller, who had 105 yards on seven carries for three touchdowns. The oddity of the game came in the fourth quarter when senior linemen Colton Leikam and Jordan Ebert both connected on extra point kicks, vaulting Leikam into the starting kicker role.
“I was shocked when coach told me to kick, but it was fun and an honor,” Leikam said.
Districts opened on Oct. 12 with the Mustangs traveling to Marysville to play the Bulldogs in a game with a weird twist of events when the game was postponed for an hour and a half due to unruly weather, but all in all, the Mustangs dominated the game, shutting down the Bulldogs drives and forcing turnovers to take the wind out of the Bulldogs sails, winning 35-0. A major award came for Dillon after this game as he was honored with KMAN player of the week with his performance of 293 rushing yards on 33 carries and three touchdowns.
District play continued the next week when the Mustangs traveled to Seneca on Oct. 19 to play the Nemaha Valley Raiders in a low-scoring game that lacked excitement, with the final score being a Mustang loss 7-6. Defense came up big in this game, as junior Jesse Correll had three sacks and senior Sheldon Rogge had 13 tackles, while Lutgen added an interception.
When senior night came it was against league rival the Riley County Falcons on Oct. 25. The Falcons quarterback Bryce Chavis scored the games first points in the first quarter with a 97-yard touchdown run and that opened the flood gates for the Falcons to score 41 unanswered points to win the game and end the Mustangs season with a score of 41-0.
“It was a disappointing end to the season, but the seniors had accomplished a lot during their careers,” Beam said.
Article by Sam King, Editorial Assistant
Photo by Mason Swenson, Yearbook Co-Editor in Chief