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Gardner Edgerton football returns as one of top teams in Kansas

Gardner Edgerton
Posted at 10:37 PM, Aug 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-28 23:37:37-04

GARDNER, Kan. — What's done in the dark will come to light.

"I think the guys are doing the best under the circumstances," said Jesse Owen, head coach for Gardner Edgerton.

That can be taken literally in Gardner where the Trailblazers spent last week going through morning practices at 5 a.m. to beat the heat.

"You gotta get your practice in somehow," said Ethan Whittley, a senior center.

But it's a metaphor, too. The preseason practices are the dark. The light is the state championship game.

And Gardner has seen that.

"The season (last season) was fun, but we still came up short," Whittley said. "So we're still going to be hungry and grind just as hard."

The Trailblazers went to overtime in that 2022 6A State Championship game against Manhattan in Emporia last season.

Gardner scored in overtime to make it 21-20 Manhattan. Instead of trying to tie it up with a extra point, the Trailblazers went for two points and the win.

They were stopped just shy of the goalline.

"Boy, I'm getting worn out being asked that question," Owen said with a grin. "And reminded about last year, but that comes with the territory."

The reminders have turned into motivation for the 2023 squad.

"We're appreciative of what we've done last year, but the job's not finished," said Dawson Kindler, a senior linebacker for the team.

Last season, Kindler was "running back Dawson Kinder." And he was a good one, rushing for over 15-hundred yards and earning First Team All-State honors.

But his new job is on the defensive side.

"It's fun getting to hit people instead of getting hit all the time," Kindler said.

"We have just extremely selfless kids. So nobody bats an eye," said Owen about players being asked to move positions.

"I'll do whatever's best for the team," Kindler said. "When my coaches came and asked me, actually I was excited."

It's selfless success, one of the reasons Gardner has gone from hunter to hunted in Kansas 6A.

"We still have things we wanna go hunt," Owen said.