Piper’s Pollard out after four seasons

Former Piper football head coach Rick Pollard. (File photo)

by Brian Turrel

In an unexpected move, the Piper school district has decided not to renew the contract of head football coach Rick Pollard.

The well-regarded coach held a 21-19 record in his four seasons with the Pirates, including 7-4 and a regional championship in the 2021 season. This week he had been announced as a member of the coaching staff for the 2022 Kansas Shrine Bowl.

Pollard was informed of the decision Tuesday afternoon, and word spread quickly through the Piper football players and their families, many of whom reacted with shock and disappointment.

Junior quarterback Logan Ladish, in a social media statement, said, “I believe [the decision] was selfish and unnecessary in every way possible.”

Junior lineman Camden Beebe, also via social media, said, “We are saddened by the decision regarding the future of the Piper football program. Coach Pollard had this team going in the right direction. Winning our first regional championship since 2014 was only the start.”

Messages to the high school and district administration requesting comment were not returned.

Thunder strikes late in sectional playoff win over Piper

Senior quarterback Blake Porter ran in for a touchdown in Piper’s playoff loss to St. James Academy. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

The Piper Pirates ended their 2021 season with a 31-7 loss to the St. James Academy Thunder in the sectional round of the 4A KSHSAA football playoffs.

The Pirates trailed by only 3 points in the fourth quarter when the Thunder scored three touchdowns in less than ninety seconds to end Piper’s hopes of advancing. Piper conceded a fumble and then an interception deep in its own end, and both were followed by quick strikes from the St. James offense.

Piper quarterback Blake Porter scored the Pirates’ touchdown in opening moments of the fourth quarter, running the ball in from a half yard out through a gap carved out by lineman Cam Beebe. The score was set up by a 20-yard catch-and-run over the middle from Porter to Colin Vigil.

St. James went ahead 10-0 in the third quarter on a 28-yard field goal. The Thunder started at their own 10 and drove the length of the field. They had a first and goal at the Piper 8, but the Piper defense clamped down and limited the damage.

On Piper’s previous drive, a bad snap put the Pirates in a precarious 2nd down and 41 to go. A 50-yard pass from Porter to Divante Herrig-Brittian saved the drive, though it sputtered out deep in Thunder territory.

The Thunder opened the scoring in the closing minutes of the first quarter, with a 1-yard run up the middle by Tyler Claiborne, and St. James held a 7-0 lead at halftime.

The stands on both sides of the field were packed and loud, despite the bitingly cold wind. St. James will move on to play Bishop Miege in the 4A semi-final next Friday. Piper finishes its season with a 7-4 record and the 4A regional championship.

Assistant coach Chris Brindle, left, was recognized on-field before the game. Brindle, who served as head coach from 2010 to 2017, has announced his retirement. Brindle is also credited with starting the school’s power-lifting program. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior lineman Cameron Rogers held his block at the line of scrimmage. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Ethan Walker and Colin Vigil upended a St. James receiver. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Sophomore defensive back Zane Pudenz stretched out to prevent a touchdown by St. James receiver John Niesen. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Piper dance team performed at half time. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior receiver Divante Herrig-Brittian hauled in a 50-yard pass from Porter. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Sophomore Jamar Jarrett ran around the left side. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Head coach Rick Pollard talked with senior receiver Ethan Walker after the game. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Sophomore kick returner Jamar Jarrett jumped on a loose ball. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior receiver Ethan Walker cut back on a run up the left side. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Piper cheerleaders kept the chilly crowd fired up throughout the game. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior defensive back Miguel Martin knocked away a pass late in the game. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior lineman Cam Beebe gathered with his teammates on the field after the game. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

Piper stills Golden Tornado, moves on to regional rematch with Paola

Senior Divante Herrig-Brittian ran back an interception for a touchdown in Piper’s 46-6 win over Coffeyville’s Field Kindley High School in the first round of the 4A playoffs. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

A scoreless first quarter turned into a rout by the closing whistle, with the Piper Pirates notching a 46-6 defeat of the Golden Tornado from Coffeyville’s Field Kindley High School in the first round of the KSHSAA 4A football playoffs.

Six different players scored the seven Piper touchdowns, the first a 37-yard run up the middle by Miguel Martin two minutes into the second quarter.

Piper shut down a Coffeyville fake punt on the next possession to get a short field, starting at the Golden Tornado 36-yard line. A long completion from Blake Porter to Divante Herrig-Brittian nearly made the end zone, but the receiver was knocked out of bounds. Mason L’Heureux ran the ball in from 2 yards out on the next play, and Porter followed it up with a 2-point conversion run.

Divante Herrig-Brittian returned an interception 56 yards to the end zone on the next Coffeyville possession for a 20-0 advantage going into halftime.

Out of the break, Piper took advantage of a short kick to start at midfield. A 47-yard run by Dominique Herrig-Brittian put them at the Golden Tornado 3-yard line, and two plays later Porter hit Ethan Walker in the end zone for a 26-0 lead.

On the next drive, Evan Damron stripped the ball from Coffeyville quarterback Zac Becker, giving the Pirates another short field from the Field Kindley 23. Becker was injured on the play, forcing running back Amanie Luten into the quarterback role.

Porter completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Divante Herrig-Brittian, and kicker Zane Busick hit the extra point for a 33-0 lead.

Luten kept the next Coffeyville drive going with some impressive runs from the quarterback position, but tossed an interception to TiwJaun Griffin at the Piper 7-yard line to end the drive.

An illegal procedure penalty pushed the Pirates back to their own 3-yard line, setting the stage for Gannon Roth’s 97-yard touchdown pass to Dominique Herrig-Brittian on the next play.

The following Golden Tornado drive ended with Luten sacked and the ball turned over to the Pirates on downs at the Coffeyville 39. Roth hit Tannar McDaniel for an 18-yard touchdown pass, and Busick converted for a 46-0 lead.

The Golden Tornado got off zero in the final minute when Amir Luten made a long catch and run to the end zone.

The win sets up a rematch between the Piper Pirates and the Paola Panthers in the regional round of the 4A playoffs. The game will be played in Paola on Friday, Nov. 5, starting at 7 p.m.

Both teams are 6-3 following their first-round victories. Paola defeated Piper 24-19 in the Oct. 8 Frontier League match played in Paola.

Sophomore Evan Damron forced a fumble by Coffeyville quarterback Zac Becker. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Dominique Herrig-Brittian cradled a reception before turning up field. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Junior Mason L’Heureux hauled down Coffeyville freshman running back Aaron Tunstall. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Junior defensive back Miguel Martin returned an interception. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior quarterback Blake Porter ran in a 2-point conversion. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Freshman Tannar McDaniel caught a pass in the end zone. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Sophomore Zane Pudenz ran the ball in the 4th quarter. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior Dominique Herrig-Brittian caught a pass on the right sideline for a 97-yard touchdown reception. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior quarterback Blake Porter threw a short pass over the middle. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior receiver Divante Herrig-Brittian hauled down a pass along the left sideline. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Head coach Rick Pollard addressed the team after the game, encouraging them for the rematch against Paola. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)