By Todd Fertig
Cair Paravel took another step Friday night in establishing itself as a competitor in the KSHSAA football ranks.
The Lions blitzed Chase County 52-16 on the Seaman High School field in a game loaded with playoff implications.
A year ago, the Lions just missed out on qualifying for the Eight-Man Division I playoffs in their first season of football as a KSHSAA member.
The Lions went into Friday’s game against Chase County knowing they were in the playoffs at 4-2 and 2-1 in their district. But with seeding and a chance to host a home playoff game at stake, they took care of business against the visiting Bulldogs.
The Lions trailed once, momentarily, early in the contest. After junior quarterback Jace Pavlik put the Lions up 6-0 with a short run, Cair Paravel watched Chase County’s Tucker Groh race 70 yards with the ensuing kickoff, putting the Bulldogs up 8-6.
Not to be outdone, Cair Paravel’s Jesiah Bonura returned the favor, taking the next kickoff back 60 yards to put the Lions back on top.
From that point on, the Lions’ defense ensured the score was never close again. Cair Paravel limited the Bulldogs to zero yards passing and negative-19 yards rushing in the first half. The visitors did not earn a first down until the fourth quarter.
“Our defense was amazing,” Pavlik said. “Look at the scoreboard. Sixteen points, and one of those scores was on a kickoff return. Our defense did an incredible job stepping up this game. Our offense, we made some plays, but our defense was just awesome tonight.”
“We tried to find their tendencies, and we found a couple that were helpful,” Cair Paravel coach Doug Bonura said about the Lions’ defensive effort. “But you just saw the effort of the boys. They were really hungry tonight.”
The Lions led 30-8 at halftime, then tacked on more points before the Bulldogs got their second score when the game was out of hand.
The result was drastically different a year ago, when the Bulldogs helped keep Cair Paravel out of the playoffs by crushing them 54-8 at Cottonwood Falls.
“Give credit to Chase County. They’re a great team,” Pavlik said. “They thrashed us last year. So, we had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder.”
Pavlik led the Lions with three touchdown runs and two scoring passes, both to tight end Cameron Brian. Jesiah Bonura provided 131 yards rushing and 53 yards receiving.
The Lions improved to 5-2, 3-1 in Eight-Man I District 2, trailing only undefeated Lyndon, whick beat Cair Paravel 58-30 a few weeks ago. That game remains on the mind of the Lions.
“We played with Lyndon,” Doug Bonura said. “We made a lot of mistakes, which really kept us out of that game. So, I think you saw tonight that our boys really wanted to compete and be able to say ‘Hey, we can play this game.’ ”
With one remaining regular season contest, the Lions have secured their spot in the playoffs for the first time, the significance of which the veteran players appreciate.
“My freshman year, we were in the (Kansas Christian Athletic Association) and we whipped everybody,” said the junior Pavlik. “Then last year, it was new ground, and we had a great district, with lots of seniors in the district. This year, we’ve still got great teams in our district, so it’s a great challenge. I’m just happy to be here, getting to do this.”
“We didn’t talk about position in the playoffs. I just said, ‘Play our game, play steady, and let’s get after it,’” Doug Bonura said. “We knew either way we were in the playoffs. We knew we were going to be second or third in the district.
“But we really wanted to set the tone for our guys that we can do this. For them to believe that they can actually compete at this level. I think that’s a hurdle mentally. They’re high schoolers. They’re trying to learn how to get over that hurdle. Because Chase County, they smacked us last year.”
CAIR PARAVEL 52, CHASE COUNTY 16
Chase County (4-3, 2-2) 8 0 0 8 -- 16
Cair Paravel (5-2, 3-1) 14 16 6 16 -- 52
Cair Paravel – Pavlik 3 run (pass failed)
Chase County – Groh 70 kickoff return (B. Griffin pass from W. Griffin)
Cair Paravel – J. Bonura 60 kickoff return (C. Brian pass from Pavlik)
Cair Paravel – C. Brian 10 pass from Pavlik (Will pass from Pavlik)
Cair Paravel – Pavlik 6 run (J. Bonura pass from Pavlik)
Cair Paravel – C. Brian 14 pass from Pavlik (pass failed)
Cair Paravel – Pavlik 12 run (J. Bonura pass from Pavlik)
Chase County – Budke 18 run (Budke pass from W. Griffin)
Cair Paravel – J. Bonura 2 run (C. Brian pass from Pavlik)
Rushing – Chase County: B. Griffin 11-28, W. Grifin 10-(minus)10, Budke 6-24, Danford 1-(minus)1. Cair Paravel: J. Bonura 18-131, Pavlik 14-71, Will 2-13, T. Bonura 4-19.
Passing – Chase County: W. Griffin 2-7-0 18 yards. Cair Paravel: Pavlik 12-18-0 115 yards.
Receiving – Chase County: Danford 1-1, Budke 1-17. Cair Paravel: Will 2-18, J. Bonura 6-53, C. Brian 3-33, Gossard 1-15.
Punting – Chase County: W. Griffin 5-31.2. Cair Paravel: Will 1-24.0.