By Rick Peterson Jr. – KSHSAA Covered
Two games into his senior season, Norton’s Garrett Urban has already raced past his offensive numbers from his junior campaign.
Urban had 40 carries last year for 364 yards in a deep Bluejays’ backfield that also included standouts Dean Clark and Silas Jones.
With Clark injured to start this season, Urban has more than helped fill the void, putting together two monster games for 2-0 Norton.
Urban rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries in a 37-17 season-opening win against Plainville. He followed that performance by scoring all five of Norton’s touchdowns and rushing for 176 yards on 15 carries in the Bluejays’ 30-20 win against Smith Center last Friday in Norton.
“Last year, we just had three amazing running backs,” Urban said. “Because of Dean Clark’s injury, I knew Silas and I were going to have to step up and I was going to get more (carries).”
Urban, listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, scored on runs of 9, 2, 65, 52 and 7 yards in the Smith Center game, showing off both speed and power. He’s averaging 14.8 yards a carry.
“I just go as fast as I can until I need to make some contact, and then I’m ready for it,” said Urban, who captured a Class 3-2-1A state wrestling championship last year as a junior at 170 pounds.
Urban and Norton coach Lucas Melvin were also quick to credit an improved and experienced offensive line that includes Lucas Kenney, Jefferson Otter, Collin Brooks, Matthew Fawcett and Corbin Puga.
“(Urban is) better – he’s bigger, faster and stronger – but the line has gotten better, too,” Melvin said. “They’re opening up some holes, and he’d be the first one to tell you that.
“But Garrett, he runs like a man, and it’s good to have.”
Norton, which entered the KSHSAA Covered rankings in Class 2A at No. 5 this week, is primed for a strong bounce-back season after going 4-5 last year. The Bluejays have 14 seniors.
“Last year we only had three seniors, so we didn’t lose a whole bunch,” Urban said. “We knew our senior class would step up. We’ve been working in the weight room all summer long, preparing for this season.”
The Bluejay defense is led by 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior linebacker Sean Anderson, who notched 17 tackles against Smith Center.
“Sean’s an animal,” Urban said.
Anderson moved to tight end this season after playing quarterback last year. Sophomore Eli Jones took the reins of the Bluejay offense.
“We spent all summer trying them both (at quarterback),” Melvin said. “Probably what really pushed it is Roman (Hauser) kind of hurt his hand, and he was going to be the tight end. When he did that, it was natural to move Sean there. Sean’s a great athlete. He can play tight end, and it keeps Sean fresher for defense, where he’s a force at linebacker.”
On a night that belonged to Urban, Jones also delivered one of the biggest plays in the Smith Center win, rushing for 29 yards off an option to set up Urban’s last touchdown of the game, which pushed the Bluejay lead to 10 early in the fourth quarter after Smith Center had crept within four points.
“It was a great check, because he checked the play to an option, and he read it well and that’s what we knew he was capable of,” Melvin said. “He’s young. Last week was a tough week for him; he didn’t play well but he knew it and he wanted to get better, and he did.”
The Bluejays held the Redmen to under 200 yards of offense. Smith Center averaged just 3.4 yards per carry on 52 attempts. Bentley Montgomery ran for 100 yards on 18 carries.
“We had our ups and down but we stayed after it the whole time, which is good, especially against a team like that, because they try to wear you down,” Melvin said. “I thought we did a great job up front.”
Friday’s win held special significance to Melvin and the Norton community. It was Norton’s first game since the stadium was renamed to Dick Boyd Stadium in honor of the longtime Norton Telegram publisher and reporter.
Boyd, who passed away in 2020, covered the Bluejays for more than 50 years.
“This is a game that he would have loved,” Melvin said. “He would always come over on Saturdays. We would have talked about this one for an hour.”
Other Western Kansas standouts:
- Garden City moved to 2-0 after rolling past Wichita North 77-6 last week. It was the most points scored by the Buffaloes since 1923. Zack Keosengphet rushed for three touchdowns. Ryan Heiman had a pick-six for the second straight week and also caught a 19-yard touchdown from Caleb Wiese.
- After a big win against Junction City in Week 1, Hays cruised past Great Bend 33-7. Malik Bah rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries while Keamonie Archie caught three passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
- Liberal earned its first win under new head coach Bryan Luetters with a 53-0 win over Emporia. Brooks Kappelmann threw for 436 yards and five touchdowns, with four of them going to Zayden Martinez, who made five grabs for 210 yards. Israel Garcia-Rotolo had eight receptions for 189 yards and a TD.
- Holcomb racked up 412 yards on the ground in a 54-0 win over Cimarron. Damon Mesa rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries while Khai Cosner ran for 100 yards on 16 attempts with a TD as the Longhorns moved to 2-0.
- Brady Welker rushed for 118 yards and three scores in Scott City’s 28-0 win over Wray (Colo.). The Beavers limited Wray to just 53 yards on the ground.
- Lakin sophomore Armando Salcido ran for 151 and three touchdowns on just seven carries in the Broncos’ 38-8 win over Syracuse. Sophomore Ross Rider returned an interception for a touchdown in the win for 2-0 Lakin.
- TMP-Marian moved to 2-0 with a 35-0 win over Ellis. Griffin Schumacher and Kade Harris spearheaded the Monarchs’ offense. Schumacher ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries while Harris finished with 120 yards on the ground on 17 carries with three scores.
- Russell notched a 27-7 win over Plainville to improve to 2-0. Wyatt Middleton tossed two touchdowns to Jace Peerman and Jacob Ney ran for 140 yards on 11 carries.
- Will Schmidt powered Oakley to a 35-20 win over Phillipsburg. The senior quarterback rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 28 attempts. Schmidt also recorded an interception on defense.
- Hill City dominated for the second straight week, notching a 62-12 win over WaKeeney-Trego. Kaleb Atkins accounted for four touchdowns. He had rushing and receiving touchdowns and also returned a kickoff and an interception for scores.
- Hoxie followed up a lopsided win over WaKeeney-Trego with another blowout, notching a 55-0 victory over Wheatland-Grinnell. Brady Jones threw two touchdowns to Miles Baalman and Braydon Scheetz ran for two scores.
- Quinter’s Preston Havlas threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a pair of scores as the Bulldogs evened up their record at 1-1 with a 50-8 win over St. Francis. The Indians were held to 53 yards of offense.
- Ryan Kuckelman rushed for 168 yards and accounted for three touchdowns as Macksville moved to 2-0 with a 42-12 win over Central Plains. Ervey Triana notched a team-high 18 tackles for the Mustangs.
- Danny Guzman logged 16 tackles, snatched two interceptions, recovered a fumble and ran for 138 yards with a touchdown as Ness City (2-0) pulled out a 12-8 win over St. John.
- Erhik Hemosillo ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns and also threw for a score in Wichita County’s 56-6 win over Elkhart. The Indians moved to 2-0.
- Meade notched its second straight shutout with a 48-0 win over Hodgeman County.
- Beloit-St. John’s Tipton (2-0) held off Sylvan-Lucas 20-18 to move to 2-0. Cooper Jermark notched 19 tackles. Tyson Gates threw touchdown passes to Luke Bates and Daniel Eilert.
- Ian Kresin put up 213 yards of offense and accounted for three touchdowns in Lakeside’s 34-12 win over Wilson. The Knights moved to 2-0.
- Carson Werth rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns in Victoria’s 60-14 win over La Crosse.
- Dylan Bice ran for 144 yards and had a hand in three touchdowns in Thunder Ridge’s 54-8 win over Rock Hills. Bice threw a pair of TDs to Mason Baker. Jason Randall scored three touchdowns on the ground for the 2-0 Longhorns.
- Pawnee Heights outlasted Chase in a 81-60 shootout. Davin Hamby rushed for 258 yards and four touchdowns for the Tigers and threw for 159 yards and three scores. He also caught a TD.
- Tescott notched a big win against Northern Valley, edging the Huskies 25-24.
- Ashland rebounded from a close loss to Cunnigham by taking a 56-6 win over Golden Plains. Lathan McPhail threw for two scores and also caught a TD.
- Maverick Najera threw for 144 yards and three touchdowns while Cesar Ramirez rushed for 154 yards and four touchdowns to help Deerfield notch its first victory with a 59-12 win over Western Plains/Healy.
- Pablo Bermudez ran for two touchdowns, caught a touchdown, had a fumble recovery for a TD and also returned a kickoff for a score in Cheylin’s 60-0 win over Weskan.