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  • Eads Pounds Out First Win Over No. 6 Sierra Grande in Home Opener
Eads sophomore running back Stockton Mitchek carries a kick off back to the house during 6-man action in Eads on Friday night.
Rhonda Uhland

Eads Pounds Out First Win Over No. 6 Sierra Grande in Home Opener

By Betsy Barnett

September 7, 2022

Coming off a big win over Manzanola in Week 1 of the 2022 6-man football season the Sierra Grande Panthers were ranked #6 in the early season polls. But their dominance didn’t last long after arriving to the home opener in Eads on Friday night as the Eagles took advantage of an early Panther mistake grabbing the lead and never looking back in a 52-12 win.

Eads is now 1-1 and hoping they are on the right track after a not-so-great performance in Hugo the week before.

Head coach Trey Eder chalks up this week’s success to the way his kids approached practice throughout the week, “What led to our success against Sierra Grande was a great week of practice. We had what I believe was maybe the best week we’ve seen in years. Everyone showed up and put in the effort in their roles. The drills were sharp and special teams and scout teams really committed to challenging the starters in order to make them better. Everyone went hard and the focus was there and that’s what we have to have to continue to improve.”

The Eagles started out well against the Panthers as junior running back and defensive linebacker Porter Spady intercepted a Panther pass. On the next play Spady ran the ball in from 10 yards out. His PAT kick was good, as well, and Eads had the lead 8-0 with just over a minute off the clock.

Of the Eagle start Eder stated, “We started the game out well as we grabbed a big interception and then scored right away. That helped us with motivation. We had a good game plan and executed both offensively and defensively. That doesn’t mean there’s things we don’t need to work on. We still had some turnovers that were not helpful. We mostly had turnovers on downs and those were our mistakes instead of Sierra Grande making them happen. We have to continue to learn from the mistakes in order to improve. Its’ good we aren’t perfect yet.”

Spady then managed another rushing touchdown early in the second quarter as the junior broke away for a 21-yard touchdown run. His PAT kick was good again and Eads extended their lead to 16-0.

But Eads would completely lose focus twice in the game and it cost them big both times. The first mistake came with 1 second left on the clock in the first half. The Eagles let down their intensity and Aron Ojeda found Angelo Valencia-Lucero for a 14-yard pass play that resulted in a touchdown—although Eads had Valencia-Lucero stopped twice and missed their tackles.

Their extra point attempt failed, and the two teams went into the lockers with Eads up, 16-6.

The Eagles began to have some good success in the air especially in the third period. Eder said, “Bo (Arnold) looked pretty good back there, it was nice to be able to throw the ball and get some yardage from the air.”

Early in the third quarter Arnold hit Spady with a 25-yard strike that put the Eagles down on the Panthers’ 11-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage Spady punched it in. The extra-points kick went wide, but Eads extended their lead to 22-6.

As the Panthers began to totally key in on Spady, who up to that point was a major threat to them, sophomore Stockton Mitchek began making noise for the Eagles. On the Eagles’ next possession that resulted when Arnold grabbed a Panther interception, Mitchek would score from 12 yards out on an Arnold to Mitchek air mail delivery. The kick by Spady was good extending the Eads lead to 36-6.

Eder mentioned the importance of the one-two punch of Spady and Mitchek, “We had Stockton put together a great game both offensively and defensively and doing his job. Teams were focused on Porter and Stockton turned into that other element they couldn’t contend with. Also, Porter scored 4 times and he’s just a tremendous player for us out on the field and a good, determined leader.”

Besides being a hard-working leader out on the field, the fact that Spady was able to reach the end zone in every kickoff makes him invaluable in setting teams back on their heels and starting deep in their own territory each and every time.

At the very start of the fourth quarter, Spady was not finished as he ran the ball aggressively resulting in a 5-yard touchdown punch with 9:27 left in the game.

Mitchek put the final dagger in the Panthers with a 64-yard touchdown run. The Spady kick was successful leaving Eads in complete control, 44-6.

With two minutes left the JV Eagles marched the ball down the field behind some good leadership from quarterback Case Nelson, a 26-yard scamper by freshman Johnnie Vasquez, and a 15-yard touchdown pass play from Nelson to freshman Karsten Buller. Porter’s kick was good again and Eads led, 52-6.

Then it was the JV’s turn to lose focus, and for the second time, with time left for just one play for the Panthers, they allowed a 45-yard pass play from Ojeda to Valencia-Lucero. The extra points failed leaving the final score at 52-12.

Eads led in the offensive stats, but they were close as the Panthers found a lot of success in the air. Eads rushed for 249 yards while Sierra Grande just produced 55 yards on the ground. But Eads will need to continue to develop their air game as they were out gunned 209 yards to 77 yards.

The Eagles were strong on defense, however, as they intercepted 2 passes and recovered a fumble. Their pressure did not allow the Panthers much from the ground despite the fact they had some very quick ball carriers.

Mitchek led on the ground with 9 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown. He also hauled in 4 receptions for 35 yards from the air including one touchdown.

Spady scored 4 touchdowns by carrying 15 times for 105 yards. He also received 3 passes for 27 yards. His kicking game was the key to the Eagles’ success as he scored 10 points on 7 PAT attempts and put the Panthers deep in their own territory 7 times

Johnny Vasquez carried once for 26 yards, and freshman Shaine Winder carried once for 6 yards.

Buller caught one pass for 15 yards and a touchdown.

Junior Keenan Smith led defensively with 9 tackles including 2 for losses. Mitchek had 6 tackles with 2 for losses, while Arnold also had 6 and one for a loss. Spady had 5 tackles including 2 tackles for a loss, while Nelson added 4 tackles and Connor Wollett had 2 take downs.

It’s now Fair week in Kiowa County and that means most, if not all, of the players will be working with their animals and volunteering a number of hours out at the Fairgrounds. Eder knows it’s going to be a difficult week to stay focused in order to get prepared for a decent Greeley County, KS (Tribune) group who Eads just barely defeated a year ago.

“We must have a good week of practice. It’s a big week for us and it’s Fair week. There are distractions so we need to remain focused despite the distractions. Tribune will be tough. We barely won there last year, and they’ll be gunning for us. It’s also the Eads Alumni Reunion so we’ll have lots of Eagle fans there and want to represent the best we can in order to put on a good showing for the community this week. But the kids still have to be focused for football.”

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