Trio leads Andover Central into first ever title game

Andover Central is in its first ever state football title game. (USD 385)
By: Sean Boston for Sports in Kansas
Nov 27, 2015

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The trio of Peyton Huslig, Jordan Birch and Darraja Parnell have helped guide the (10-2) Andover Central Jaguars, under head coach Tom Audley, to their first ever state title appearance.  The Jaguars will take on (11-1) Bishop Miege for the 4A-I state championship game on Saturday at Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka.

Senior Peyton Huslig leads the fight for the Jaguars as the quarterback, throwing for 2,025 yards in 11 of 12 games played thus far, connecting for 30 touchdowns through the air.  Huslig is averaging 184 yards of passing per game, a majority of those going to senior wide receiver Darraja Parnell.  Parnell has 1,321 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns.  When Huslig or Parnell do not have the ball in their hands, it usually goes to senior running back Jordan Birch.  Birch has 1,737 yards on the ground for the rushing attack and 18 touchdowns.

“It feels really good to have those weapons around me,” Huslig said.  It gives me a lot of confidence whether we run or pass the ball. None of our stats are possible without the offensive line and the blockers that clear the paths for us.  We really couldn’t do it without them, they don’t really get the credit they deserve.”

Andover Central has outscored opponents 479-250 this season, including 110-49 in the playoffs.  The Jaguars traveled to Independence for the first game of the playoffs, where they dominated the host Bulldogs 47-13.  They would then host their next two playoff games, winning 35-34 over Abilene and then 28-2 win over Topeka Hayden to clinch a berth in the 4A-I state championship.  The Jaguars lost to Hayden in week seven of the season, 38-29 at home.

“It was great to be able to beat them,” Birch said.  Because our season was on the line and we had lost to them earlier in the season, we expected a dog fight.  Our guys played really hard as a team to earn that win, we’ll hope to keep that up on Saturday.”

The Jaguars will have their hands full on Saturday with the Stags of Miege.  The Stags are a familiar in the state title game, whether it be in class 5A or 4A-I.  They’ve won five state titles, the last coming a year ago.  Miege has outscored opponents 674-197 and have given up more than 21 points in just one game this season.  That one game was a 42-35 loss to Blue Valley who will be playing Derby for the 6A state title game.  Since that loss to the Tigers, Miege has won nine straight games.

“We know that Miege is a solid team, but we're just as good and that's why we're both playing for a state championship,” Birch said.  “When we're playing our best football we are a tough team to beat. I know our guys will bring their best on Saturday, so it should be a great game.”

As of now, Parnell has committed to play basketball next winter at the University of Central Arkansas, but has recently picked up an FBS offer from the University of Toledo, in Toledo, Ohio to play football.  Birch has committed to continue his football career next fall at Illinois State University, a powerhouse in the FCS.  Huslig has received FCS offers to play next fall at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana and Stetson University located in DeLand, Florida.

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This feature is presented by the The Popcorner, gourmet popcorn and old-fashioned delights. The Popcorner at 528 N Andover Rd. is proud to sponsor the Jaguars. Best of luck in the State Championship and Happy Holidays!