The Silver Trophy Returns!


Raye Wilson and Jovon Baldwin hold up the Silver Trophy

Jayden Davis, Staff Writer

After a year of Blue Jay Football suffering, the Silver Trophy has returned to Junction City! Last Friday was a much anticipated night for both fans of Manhattan and Junction City as the two rivals met.

If you were at Bishop Stadium in Manhattan Friday night you witnessed an overtime thriller that could be argued to be the game of the season.

Both teams came in to this week’s game off a victory. Manhattan came in after a very convincing 50-7 win against Topeka West. Junction City had a statement victory against the then undefeated Washburn Rural with a final score of 36-13. Before #87 Defensive End Bradley Breckenridge of the Blue Jays cut his season short with an ACL/MCL injury, the Blue Jays went two straight weeks holding opponents scoreless. After the injury of one of the key players on defense for JC had occurred, the Blue Jays defense hasn’t looked the same; surrendering 13 points to Washburn.

Bradley Breckenridge hugs his teammates after the game.
Bradley Breckenridge hugs his teammates after the game.

The loss of one of the key defensive players again showed against Manhattan. The Blue Jays Defensive Line showed inconsistency in their pass rush, and in stopping the run game of Manhattan. Junction City’s defense wasn’t the only inconsistent aspect of their game. Running with the football whether it was coming from a handoff or running after the catch resulting from a pass play showed much inconsistency as the Blue Jays seemed prone to fumbling the football. This was hopefully just an aberration, as we haven’t seen this all season. A great example of this happened to be the Blue Jays first touchdown and what was the first TD of the game; as Ryan Hennington threw a pass to Raye Wilson and he had fumbled the ball, recovered it immediately and still managed to run the ball 51 yards down the sideline through the Manhattan defense for a Blue Jays touchdown that put JC on the board 7-0. This did not seem to have an effect on Manhattan’s confidence as they easily scored on the following drive. Running the ball majority of the time downfield. This set up a surprise pass play as the JC defense was caught on their heels on a play action pass as the receiver spins out of 2 tackles and runs the ball into the end zone tying the game 7-7.

Manhattan had used that touchdown to put a spark in their defense forcing a quick 3 and out for JC setting up a punt that placed Manhattan in great field position. The Indians had capitalized on this field position, finishing off the half with another rushing drive that ended in the end zone putting them up 14-7.

At the half you could see that penalties, fumbles, dropped passes, and an offensive line that was being dominated at the line of scrimmage was clearly hurting JC’s chances at putting any more points on the scoreboard. Coming into the second half you could see a new, more positive and motivated Junction City squad as they fed off of what was a very exhilarating JC crowd. Both teams start off the second half slow each with a 3 and out and another fumble by JC recovered by Manhattan. On this drive, Manhattan shows more of a West Coast offense than the ground and pound offense they had previously used. As they fired down the field quickly with multiple pass plays, they line up again with all no one in the backfield showing clear signs of another pass play. One of JC’s defensive stars this season had noticed this. Anticipating the pass play he intercepted the football, returning it downfield for a much needed Blue Jay touchdown.

This touchdown electrified the Junction City sideline along with its fans clearly ready to take advantage of the quick momentum switch. This change of momentum was clearly needed for JC who’s two touchdowns both came off big uncommon plays. At what was a very important 3rd and 16 situation for JC they went with a pass play to Bronson Hill deep down the sideline, a play they called mid second quarter, again resulting in a dropped pass forcing JC into a punt situation. The following drive JC holds Manhattan to a 3rd and short position with a clutch sack of the quarterback. Manhattan converts on a questionable 1st down call by the refs after measurement. Despite this call, #9 Timothy Bell on the JC defense shows great leadership qualities keeping his fellow teammates in the game as he has been the clear defensive anchor for this squad.Manhattan in another 4th and short situation, converts a 1t down against JC, putting them in the red zone, a feat both teams rarely accomplished in this game. After Bell leaves the game with an injury, Manhattan attempts to capitalize on this by calling out multiple fake snaps and motion calls, but the Blue Jays do not fall for this, forcing Manhattan to call a timeout, switching the momentum over to Junction City.

The hyped up crowd and intimidating Special Teams defense of the Blue Jays had their heads high when Manhattan lined up for a field goal only 11 yards out. This was what in most cases would be an easy game ender Manhattan; but the kicker, being extremely pressured by the defense, misses the field goal wide left of the uprights.

The Junction City fans cheer on the Blue Jays.
The Junction City fans cheer on the Blue Jays.

This gave possession of the ball to JC on the 20 yard line, 80 yards away from the end zone. As expected, they immediately look to Raye Wilson, the star of the team’s season to take them to the Promised Land. They give Raye the ball 3 straight times running for short yardage the first time and a big 20 yard gain the second that could’ve been a touchdown but the Manhattan Safety luckily brought Wilson down.

JC had failed to score in the lasting minute of regulation, putting the game in overtime. Overtime rules give both teams one possession at the 10 yard line 1st and goal both having one chance to score.

JC lost the coin toss giving Manhattan the first possession. Junction City’s defense came on to the field with an aura to them that could be felt by everyone in the stadium. A sense of confidence was shown by each player that was noticed by everyone. Any other defense would appear nervous and scared to fail. Much like how the Manhattan offense had seemed.

Manhattan runs the ball on a draw play gaining 6 yards putting them at the 4 yard line. This was a scary a sight to see for Blue Jay fans, hoping that the next play wouldn’t be as easy for the Manhattan offense.

Manhattan runs the ball again and they gain 3 yards, putting them on the 1 yard line. This was both scary and an impressive stop by the JC defense. Manhattan runs the ball again right down the middle and JC somehow comes up with another stop less than a yard from the goal line.

Manhattan was inches away from the end zone and the Blue Jay defense, without their leader and without one of their best in Bradley Breckenridge to help, still looked unphased, ready to make one last stop.

Manhattan throws everyone they have on to the line of scrimmage to block, as they hand off the ball to the Manhattan Halfback and he runs and dives towards the end zone and is quickly covered by players from both teams. A big dogpile sitting at the end zone with all eyes in the stadium drawn to it. All of a sudden, you could hear the loud cheers of the Junction City stands.

While the refs are still looking for the ball in the end zone in the dogpile, Aryus Jones is sprinting down the middle of the field with the ball with no one near him. A beautiful sight to see for JC fans as he runs into the end zone bringing uproar into the Away stands and the Blue Jays sideline.

As the fans of Junction City were cheering, the refs got together and called the Manhattan running back down at the six inch line meaning the touchdown was called off. This made Manhattan line up for a field goal.

You could feel the pressure on the kicker. You could feel the anticipation of the kick. Inches away from the goal line this couldn’t be more of a routine kick that everyone in the stadium knew was going in. The ball was snapped, the ball was kicked and the faces on every fan in the JC stands lit up. The kicker again, like in the 4th quarter, botched the kick and missed wide left.

The ball was now in the hands of the Blue Jays offense who haven’t looked the same the whole game. Like Manhattan, they ran the ball 3 straight times, never gaining any yardage.

Lining up for the decisive Field Goal, Wayne Shirley was back to kick. The ball was snapped and the ball was kicked. This kick decided the game. Would the undefeated record remain intact? Would the silver trophy return to Junction City? The ball seemed to be flying through the air in slow motion. Every eye in the stadium was drawn to it. Every fan was quiet. The whole stadium was silent as if it was empty… up until every arm in the JC stands flew up, and every face lit up once again as the ball passed through the uprights. You could feel the hearts of all the Manhattan fans drop in disbelief. The field goal was good, giving the Blue Jays the victory against their rival, bringing the silver trophy back to Junction City.

Junction City defeats Manhattan 14-17
Junction City defeats Manhattan 14-17

The Blue Jay sideline stormed the field cheering on Wayne Shirley in a moment that will clearly never be forgotten. Seeing Raye Wilson proudly hold up the Silver Trophy at midfield, hearing the chants of Blue Jay fans “SIL-VER TRO-PHY” as the night came to an end only made this a night that JC fans will always remember and a night that Manhattan fans will always try to forget.

The dream season is continuing for the Blue Jays in what is beginning to look like the 2008 team that went on undefeated to win it all. With the beloved Silver Trophy back in the hands of the Blue Jays the next question for this team is if they can win it all. With the skill and heart on this team, it’s no doubt they will for sure have the highest of chances.