By TOMMY REZAC and MATT PIKE
St. Joseph Post
KANSAS CITY - The East Buchanan football team (11-1) dominated in the ground game and rolled to a 38-12 win over University Academy Charter on Saturday afternoon in the Class 1 District 8 championship in Kansas City.
The district title win marks the first for East Buchanan football since 2017.
"To give these fans and these players a chance to play for a district title and then win it, what a great feeling for this community," second year head coach Dan Ritter said.
East Buchanan set the tone up front from the get-go. Running back Trevor Klein got the scoring started with a five-yard touchdown run, giving the Bulldogs an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
University Academy (8-4) answered with a touchdown of their own in the second quarter, but went for two and failed to convert.
The Bulldogs took advantage on their ensuing drive, as Klein rumbled into the end zone on an 81-yard run. The point-after missed, but East Buchanan went ahead 13-6 midway through the second.
After getting a stop on defense, East Buchanan went back to work on the ground game, as Cru Conaway scored on a three-yard run. Klein's successful two-point run gave the Bulldogs a 21-6 lead.
"Just run through someone's face when you get the rock," Conaway said. "That's what we do. It's a mentality. That's all it really is. You get the ball and you just want to score and that's how (me and Trevor) see it."
University Academy responded with a deep touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half, but again failed on a two-point try, and East Buchanan tacked on a field goal from Alec Hesson to take a 24-12 lead at the break.
East Buchanan kept the ball on the ground in the second half, controlling the line of scrimmage and time of possession. Conaway tallied two more rushing scores, and Adam Stephen-Enges snagged a pair of interceptions on the defensive side to keep University Academy off the board.
The Bulldog defense got four total interceptions on the day, including one in the end zone, and they held University Academy scoreless for the entire second half.
In total, East Buchanan rushed for a staggering 412 yards - Conaway and Klein combined for 385 of those rushing yards on their own.
"We always just love running the rock," said Klein after rushing for three scores. "We're really good at running and our offensive linemen are some of the best in the state, and we can do it any time we want."
East Buchanan advances to the Class 1 state quarterfinals, where they'll host KCI rival Hamilton on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on KFEQ Radio (680, 95.3).
East Buchanan defeated Hamilton in the regular season 22-12 on September 17 in Gower.
The Hornets (9-3) took down Gallatin, 42-8, for a district title of their own on Friday night.
"We better figure out our keys and we better tackle," Ritter said, "because they can run the ball and they showed Gallatin what was up in the cold. That's a tough team, so we know we have our hands full, but we're going to celebrate today."
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ, Matt at @KFEQMatt and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.