The St. James Thunder successfully defended their Kansas football championship on Saturday in Topeka.
The Thunder beat Andover Central 28-21 at Hummer Park for their second straight Class 4A high school football title under head coach Tom Radke.
Things began to look somewhat dire when Andover rolled to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, but St. James came ready to battle. The game was far from over.
Senior running back Tiave Watts got the Thunder on the scoreboard in a big way, racing 49 yards for a rushing touchdown in the second quarter. He rushed for a second touchdown, this time on a 2-yard run, and it was tied 14-all at the break.
Unfortunately, Watts’ day was just about done. He exited the game in the third quarter with an injury and did not return.
Andover Central retook the lead, 21-14, but Tyler Claiborne scored a 25-yard touchdown and it was tied again.
St. James’ junior quarterback Jackson House scored what would prove to be the game-winner in the fourth period on a short keeper.
The Thunder were able to hold Andover Central at bay for the final 8 minutes and celebrate as champions again.
“It’s just special,” Radke said after the game in a video posted to a school social media account. ”It’s a special community.
“You talk about the football team, you talk about St. James Academy as a special place. It’s just a great school that gets to celebrate all this.”
— St. James Thunder Athletics & Activities (@SJA_Gameday) November 27, 2021