Southeast grabs share of IL Crown

Toriano Porter/PrepsKC

By Toriano Porter PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 15, 2017 - 1:52 PM

The celebration commenced with less than 2 minutes remaining in Southeast’s 27-6 Interscholastic League win Saturday over East.

It originated with a quick sing-song style chant at the 1:55 mark of the fourth quarter: “We are the champions. We are the champions.”

The festivities continued less than a minute later when head coach Leon McElrath and members of the coaching staff were doused with buckets of ice water.

And finally, after the clock stopped and the horn sounded, the Knights let out a collective cheer: “IL champions, baby! IL champions, baby!”

Southeast’s convincing win left them with a three-way split of the league title. The Knights (3-8), Central (3-8) and Lincoln Prep (3-8) all finished 3-1 in IL play.

The championship was a long time coming for a program that has seen its struggle in recent years. McElrath said he believes it’s the school’s first IL title since the mid-90s.

“But don’t quote me on that,” a jubilant McElrath said after the game.

Southeast won only one league game last season. Prior to that McElrath coached an African Centered College Prep program that was winless in league play in 2014 and 2015.

That’s a 1-11 mark over a three-year period, something not lost on McElrath or his charges.

“Before the season, I thought we could win the league, but I didn’t really know,” offensive standout Doedy Patterson-Deh said. The dynamic junior proved to be a shifty proposition for East to contain throughout the game as McElrath designed a variety of plays to get him in space. “It feels good, but we want more.”

The Bears played Southeast evenly in the first and third quarters. They were tied at 0-0 after one, but trailed 14-0 at halftime and 20-6 heading into the fourth quarter.

“I don’t know what it is, but we have a tendency to start slow,” Bears head coach Greg Smith said after his team fell to 1-8 overall and 1-3 in league play. “We may have a heck of a team if some of these young guys figure it out.”

If the second quarter was the Bears’ undoing, then the final quarter was party time for the Knights.

A fourth quarter score put an exclamation point on the Knights’ victory and sent their sideline into a frenzy as the clock ran down on their first league title in years.

Three-way tie or not, McElrath said the Bears will print up championship banners, t-shirts and more.

“We’re going all out,” he said.