When Sentinel receiver Chris Laporte hauled in a pass over the middle, streaked up through the middle of the Hellgate defense and lunged to the 15-yard line, it did more than just set up a 32-yard field goal off the boot of Spartan kicker Gabe Peppenger as the first half expired.
The catch was Laporte’s second — the first Sentinel pass catcher to reach multiple receptions for the game.
But it’s not like the Spartans were avoiding the air. Quarterback Kade Paffhausen’s second connection with Laporte, a 25-yard gain in the dwindling seconds of the half, was his 10th completion of the contest.
The first nine had all gone to nine different receivers.
“We want to see as many kids as we can, because we have all the talent that we need,” Paffhausen said.
It started on Sentinel’s first drive in what would become a 74-6 shuttering of Hellgate. Paffhausen hit Austin Violette on a 56-yard completion on the Spartans’ first play from scrimmage . It would be both the longest pass play for the QB and the only one Violette would catch all game.
Zach Burckhard, Justin Smith, Zach Mustard and Jaydn Wilson also each caught exactly one pass from Paffhausen and Kagen Khameneh, Colton Jacobson and Tyler Richtmyer each caught exactly one pass that went for a touchdown.
“That’s a good offensive strategy to spread the ball around like that,” Sentinel coach Dane Oliver said. “Our plan is that we always want to take what the defense gives us.”
Paffhausen, who completed nine of his first 12 throws, struggled a bit to end the half and missed on passes to several of the aforementioned players. But with a 39-6 lead at half and the second-string ready to get in the game, the junior starting QB didn’t need to complete — or attempt — a pass in the second half.
He finished with 152 yards passing and the three scores for the playoff bound Spartans (6-4), the eighth seed in the Class AA playoffs.