Storm Drop Opener to Salina

by Logan Hernandez

SALINA, KS- The Southwest Kansas Storm traveled to Salina, Kansas to take on The Salina Liberty. In a game that could have major implications down the road, there was no shortage of action. The action started before kick off though as projected starting Center, Desmond Bland received a call that he was going to have the opportunity to sign a contract with the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. This undoubtedly threw a wrench in the plans of Southwest Kansas' coaching staff, but them and the team took this all in stride. Southwest Kansas received the opening kickoff, but were unable to gain a first down. Salina would have the same woes, and the game sat 0-0 after each team had their first possession. That would change on the second possession as QB Caden Walter found Todd Athey for a 37 yard Touchdown for The Storm's first score of the year. A missed extra point would put Southwest Kansas ahead 6-0 7:09 left. Salina would tie the game up at 6-6 with 20.8 seconds remaining in the First Quarter. Salina would open the scoring in the second quarter taking a 13-6 lead, but Southwest Kansas would answer back immediately. Da'Quan Bailey Brown would take the ensuing kickoff back to pull the score back to 13-12, after a missed field goal. Salina would add another Touchdown, and a holding call against The Storm in the endzone would result in a safety in Salina's favor. Southwest Kansas would add another touchdown before the half. As both teams entered halftime the score would be Southwest Kansas 19 Salina 22. Salina would score quickly in the third quarter extending their lead to 29-19. That would completely turn the momentum in Salina's favor as they would get two quick defensive Touchdowns to extend their lead 43-19 mid way through the third quarter. However Southwest Kansas would score before the end of the third quarter to draw the score to 43-26 in favor of Salina. Southwest Kansas was able to ride that moment and add to it with a Vince DiLeo II run to make it 33-43 with 13:26 left. Within three minutes Southwest Kansas would score again, on a drive set up by a Eugene Minter interception. Caden Walters and Todd Athey connected again with 10:55 remaining to make the score 43-40 in favor of Salina. Both defenses stood tall from there on out as that would be the final score. Both teams had opportunities to score, and make a few big plays, but the football refused to bounce in favor of the offenses through the final 10 minutes. Head Coach Gary Thomas had this to say about the game, "We knew coming into this game we were going to face a well-organized team, and that's exactly what we got. They (Salina) came out and executed their game plan. Although we came up on the short end of the stick tonight, I was impressed with our guys' effort and refusal to give up. It could've been really easy to give up being down by 24 late in the third quarter. We had some mistakes that cost us some points and allowed them to score on defense or with a short field. The good thing about those mistakes though is that they are all correctable, and we plan to get those corrected this week." When asked about his excitement about for Desmond Bland Coach Thomas said "Oh man. Life comes at you fast, doesn't it? Desmond deserves this though, and I couldn't be happier for him. He is a heck of a football player and an unbelievably good person. I hope Desmond nothing but the best as his football journey takes him on from Southwest Kansas." 

The Southwest Kansas Storm will play at home on May 4th at 5:00 P.M. against the Iowa Rampage. Southwest Kansas will be hosting, in conjunction with Dodge City Community College, Star Wars and Superhero Night. Fans are encouraged to dress up as their favorite superhero to have a chance to win prizes.