By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas
Since the summer, Frontenac’s defense has been deemed one of Class 3A’s best. The Raiders matched the preseason expectations with a 9-2 mark entering last Friday’s semifinal versus undefeated Holton. Last season, Holton rushed for 384 yards in a 42-6 Frontenac playoff loss.
This time, the Raiders delivered a highly impressive performance on both sides in a 32-13 victory. Holton had its fewest points all year. Frontenac held Holton to 184 rushing yards and 194 total yards. That marked Holton’s fewest rushing yards in its last 33 games; a stretch where Holton went 27-6. This season, Holton has averaged 338 rushing yards and 7.6 yards per carry.
This was Holton’s only game under 200 rushing yards this season. Last year, Holton’s lowest was 193 rushing yards in a 2020 playoff loss to 3A state runner-up Perry-Lecompton. In 2019, Holton’s fewest rushing yards was 186 versus Jeff West, which was 3A’s No. 1 scoring defense that year.
On Saturday, Frontenac (10-2) will play Andale (12-0) in the Class 3A state championship at Hutchinson’s Gowans Stadium. Start time is 1 p.m. Andale has won back-to-back state championships and has captured 37 straight games, which is a school record and among the top-10 longest streaks in Kansas history. This is the first ever meeting between the schools. Frontenac coach Mark Smith is 79-31 in 10 years.
Frontenac has outscored teams by a combined margin of 367-150 and has the seventh-best scoring defense in 3A, per Prep Power Index. Holton had averaged 40.5 points a contest before last Friday. Frontenac trailed 7-6 at halftime before they scored twice on a 17-yard run from Mario Menghini and a 68-yard pass from Collin McCartney to Menghini.
Holton closed to 18-13 before McCartney again found Menghini for a 68-yard TD yard score. Justice Compton tacked on a two-yard TD. Frontenac also overcome a key ankle injury to standout 270-pound interior defensive lineman Lane Franklin.
Overall, McCartney finished six of 10 passing for 182 yards and two scores. Justice Compton delivered 17 carries for 90 yards and two TDs. Menghini has four catches for 168 yards and two scores.
Overall, Menghini has 942 yards, and Compton has 872 rushing yards. Compton paces the Raiders with 69 tackles, and Menghini has six interceptions. Frontenac has its well-publicized defensive line of Franklin, McCartney, Cruz Blair and Landon Dean, an Oklahoma State commit.
Per Kansas historian Brett Marshall, Andale is 5-1 in state title games and 56-25 all-time in the playoffs. Frontenac is 1-6 all-time in state finales, and 44-31 in playoff appearances. The Raiders’ lone title came in a 13-12 win versus Stockton in Class 2-1A in 1994.
Frontenac also most recently finished second in 2017 to Holcomb in Class 4A, Division II.
Overall, the Raiders are plus-12 in turnover margin and allowed just 108 rushing yards a game and 3.8 yards per play, per SIK research and Hudl boxscores. Frontenac has 5.7 yards per play and 221 rushing yards a game.
Frontenac has collectively held teams to 75 of 171 passing for 940 yards with 10 scores versus 16 interceptions. Frontenac has been solid in third down and converted 42 percent of those situations this year.