PAOLA — More than 100 former players came back to Panther Stadium, filling out two lines from the lockerroom to the field, to honor Paola football coach Michael Dumpert and assistant coach Steve Gorsuch.
Dumpert and Gorsuch announced plans to retire after the 2021-22 school year.
Coach Dumpert is in his 42nd season with the Paola Panthers and 23rd season as head coach. He led Paola to a state runner-up finish in 2006 and was the defensive coordinator when the Panthers captured state titles in 1984 and 1994.
Gorsuch has coached at Paola for 40 years. He was the head wrestling coach for 15 years, winning the state championship in 2001. Gorsuch has been an assistant football coach for 40 years.
The Paola Pannther 2021 football team did its part, scoring 27 points in the third quarter in a 55-20 victory against the Ottawa Cyclones on Friday, Sept. 24.
Dumpert and Gorsuch fist-bumped former players as they walked through a tunnel of players for the second half.
Paola graduate Kevin Barbour, a former player, flew in from Hawaii for the game. Jeremy Dillard, quarterback on the 2006 team, traveled from Georgia to see his former coaches.
“I cannot believe how many guys came back tonight,” Dumpert said. “There are a lot of great guys out there. That was just great to see everyone.”
Ottawa struck first, scoring on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 7:41 left in the opening quarter.
Paola responded with a 9-yard touchdown run by Caden Rhamy, capping a six-play, 59-yard drive less than one minute later. Dominic McCoy kicked the extra point.
Quarterback Trey Moala scored on a 4-yard touchdown run as Paola took a 14-7 lead.
Rhamy ended another drive with an 11-yard touchdown run, making it 21-7 in the second quarter.
Ottawa made it a one-score game with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Dumpert walked the sideline asking his players to respond and the Panthers did, finding the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run by Moala for a 28-14 advantage at the intermission.
Ottawa opened the third quarter with a drive and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Paola would answer with four touchdowns in the quarter, taking a 55-20 lead into the final frame for a running clock the rest of the way.
Moala broke loose for a 32-yard touchdown run. McCoy’s kick was good.
Jovanni Blackie ended a drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
Rhamy scored on a 48-yard touchdown run.
Rhamy took off on a 63-yard touchdown run for the final score of the game.
The Panthers ran the ball 44 times for 514 yards with three backs going over 100 yards on the night.
Rhamy ran the ball 13 times for 252 yards and four touchdowns.
Blackie had 12 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown. Moala carried the ball eight times for 109 yards and three touchdowns.
Brody Stewart led the Paola defense with eight tackles. Clayton Forrest had five tackles, including two tackles for a loss of yardage. He also blocked a punt and recovered a fumble.
Isaiah Taylor made five tackles. Landon Taylor, Jonathan Earlywine and Rhamy each had four tackles. Layton Moore, Zach Donahue and Dalton Picek each made three tackles. Taylor and Donahue recovered fumbles. Logan Newkirk had two pass deflections. Taylor had one.
McCoy made seven of eight extra-point attempts. He had nine kickoffs, averaging 40 yards per kick with a long of 50.