Big plays make a big difference, and for the Dodge City High School Demons, a pair of fumble recoveries and an interception helped pave the way for a DCHS 35-14 victory Friday over Wichita West.
Wichita West presented a lot of issues for matchups, but the team responded and came up with big plays to get the win over the Pioneers.
"I was extremely proud of the way the kids played," said DCHS football coach Dave Foster. "I think we took away what they wanted to do."
Looking at the statistics, those turnovers were vital to getting the victory. The Demons had 300 total yards while the Pioneers had 315. The Pioneers ran 73 plays to the Demons' 53.
The Pioneers had 18 first downs to the Demons' 15, and the Pioneers had better third down and fourth down efficiency.
But when players step up at the right time, that can make the difference in the game.
Alden Knedler was a playmaker on offense as the leading rusher with four touchdowns while D'andre Vontress had four receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown.
John Johnson had a big night on both sides of the ball with four tackles and 11 assists, while Matt Friess had six tackles and two assists.
Tommy Bermudez played well at the linebacker position with two tackles and 12 assists.
Quarterback Beau Foster played a manageable game and completed quick throws to D'andre Vontress. Foster also threw the ball away rather than throwing it for a possible interception.
In the end, the team had zero turnovers. The team's ability to run the ball, that first score by Vontress, guys making defenders miss and forcing fumbles lead the team to a 28-8 half time lead.
The play in the second half slowed down to eat up the clock and get the win over the Pioneers.
But football is all about the next game. While the Demons are 11-1 over the last 12 months, including last season, they dare not look beyond their next opponent, Hays High School.
"We have to stay humble," Foster said.
Foster said some of his players are not so humble and he has to remind them they could easily have numbers in the lose column. He is emphasizing they need to be strong this week and take one week at at time.
"We'll be critical about our players getting better and be the best version of what we can be," Foster said.
While their opponent next week is 2-3 for the season, they lost to Liberal in overtime and beat Wichita South on Oct. 4. They are well coached and have some good young players as well as some strong kids from last year.
The Demons are 5-0 and at this point in the season, it puts a target on them for every other team.
"Everyone wants to shot at knocking off an undefeated team and Hays is a team that's good enough to do that," Foster said. "We will not take anyone lightly."
Against Hays, Foster said they have to win the box if they want to stop the run. With both teams using a spread offense, that's most important. The Demons have to win the turnover match. If they can continue to do that, it makes it difficult for the other team, especially when Dodge can get a short field.
The has to remain humble and have a week by week approach.
"We need to play with the highest level of energy and focus we can," Foster said.
Foster said Vontress was moved up, and while he was nervous, he handled himself well and gained confidence. The defense is playing at a strong level. Josh Harshberger, Cedric Rosales and Santonio Turner continue to be forces on the defense.
Sophomore Jose Valverde has been a consistent weapon for the Demons. He's been putting kicks into the end zone and has made the kicks when they mattered.
"He's been a difference maker," Foster said. "He's just going to get better and better."
As a team, they have to make adjustments on what the other team does well. They will work hard on that this week and make adjustments that will help make the team be successful on Friday, Foster said.
On the defense against Wichita West, De Jon Delgado had an interception while Josh Harshberger and John Johnson both had fumble recoveries.
Alden Knedler also had a good night on defense with three tackles and 11 assists. Santonio Turner recorded two tackles and nine assists.
On special teams, Jose Valverde was five for five on PATs and had six kickoffs for 349 yards and three touchbacks.
The Demons are 5-0 for the season, and this is the first time since 2010 they have started with a 5-0 record.
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