Monarchs look for playoff win at home

Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
TMP quarterback Kade Harris carries the ball against Russell earlier this season. The Monarchs will be at home for the first round of the playoffs against Beloit in Friday.

The Thomas More Prep-Marian football team, having its best season since 2002, is at home for Friday’s Class 2A playoff opener against Beloit. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Lewis Field Stadium.

“It’s really nice to be able to play at home, at Lewis Field,” TMP coach Jay Harris said. “Just a great atmosphere to play in. Sometimes it’s a little daunting to the opposing team, never having been in a stadium like that, playing on turf for one of the very few times.”

Beloit (2-6) is primarily a running team, led by sophomore Benson Berndt’s 900 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Anthony Henke adds 609 yards and nine scores. The Trojans put a scare into undefeated Hoisington last week before falling on the road, 26-20.

TMP (7-1) has a balanced attack, led by the running and passing of sophomore quarterback Kade Harris, the coach’s son. Harris has completed 52-of-95 passes (54.8 percent) for 14 touchdowns with four interceptions. He also has run for a team-high 716 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, with nine TDs. In last week’s district title-clinching 46-14 win at Lakin, Harris accounted for six scores — four TD passes, a scoring run and a kickoff return into the end zone. Junior wideout Jace Wentling is the top receiver with 17 catches for 401 yards (23.6 yards per catch) with six TDs.

“It’s definitely a big benefit, because if a team wants to stop us running we’ll be able to pass,” Coach Harris said. “If they shut down the pass, hopefully we’ll be able to run on them.

“We can mix it up in a series or between series,” he added. “It’s very beneficial.”

The Monarch defense is giving up 12.1 points per game. Harris and junior Bryce Seib each have 81 tackles to lead the way.

Coach Harris is savoring the ride in a season to remember.

“Just a lot of excitement,” he said. “I look forward to the excitement going around school. I’m definitely enjoying it.”