BURLINGTON — Jeff Schibi's first year as head coach of the Parsons Vikings came to an end on Friday night as the Vikings lost to the Burlington Wildcats 56-22 in the first round of the KSHSAA 3A playoffs.
A familiar plague hampered the Vikings as Burlington amassed 399 yards rushing and 418 yards of total offense. The Wildcats scored on two touchdown runs from Braden Sloyer, both over 40 yards long, to write the first chapter of the night.
"It's something we struggled with all year long," Schibi said, "being able to stop the run. That hurts you mentally and that carries over if you have guys playing both ways. Teams just completely wear you down. We struggled getting down early in our losses. We're just constantly working uphill."
Sloyer finished the game with four total touchdowns — three on the ground and one passing — while also rushing for 222 yards for Burlington.
Parsons scored its three touchdowns of the night on a kickoff return from Dion Sylvester, a pass from Ethan Houk to Tanner Barcus and a run from Houk.
Barcus hauled in 16 catches for 116 yards on the night as the senior wideout surpassed 1,000 yards receiving on the season in his final game.
"I just worked my hardest in the offseason and it really paid off," Barcus said. "But a lot of it is because of my teammates. It's not just me."
Schibi noted that Barcus' stellar season came just months removed from the passing of Don Barcus, a former football coach for the Vikings and Tanner's grandfather.
"I have no doubt in my mind that he dedicated this season for his grandpa," Schibi said. "What more of a way to go out with a thousand yards? I know Don Barcus is smiling up in heaven at his grandson."
The loss leaves Parsons with a 3-6 record to finish the year. It's the second consecutive losing season for Parsons and the ninth over the last 10 seasons. Parsons has had five head coaches, including Schibi, in that stretch.
Schibi knew plugging holes along the line was the first step to reshaping the identity of Parsons football when he took the job in the offseason.
"That was a huge emphasis coming into this year and we didn't get it done in that area," Schibi said. "I promise it wasn't because of lack of effort. Teams were just more physical with us at the point of attack."
Going into the offseason, Schibi intends to dedicate himself even further to finding the answers.
"That's the first thing I'm going to work on in the offseason," Schibi said. "I have a few ideas for what that entails. Maybe we go through some boot camps in the summer. I'm going to do a lot of research in the offseason. I'm going to talk to veteran coaches."
There were high points to Parsons' season as well, including a Week 8 win over Cherryvale in a game where the winner advanced to the playoffs and the loser was relegated to a consolation game. Parsons missed out on the playoffs last year, so this year's berth is tangible progress.
"I thought it was a roller coaster ride," Schibi said. "I thought our kids got better each week. I don't want to grade myself because I know it's hard to see the improvement tonight when we give up 56 points. But I think our kids improved from Week 1 to where we are now. I know there's a lot of work to be done."
Burlington, now 8-1 on the season, will face Frontenac in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. Every team that made the playoffs from Parsons' district — Columbus, Galena and Caney Valley along with the Vikings — suffered losses on Friday night.
Schibi knows where he'll be almost singularly focused in the coming months.
"I think one issue we have," Schibi said, "as a unit is we've got to work on some toughness. We lack physicality with big, bruising linemen. We've got to get tougher."
Burlington 56, Parsons 22
Burlington: 30 6 14 6 — 56
Parsons: 7 0 8 7 — 22
BU: Braden Sloyer 49-yard run, 11:35, 6-0
BU: Sloyer 42-yard run, 7:35, 14-0
BU: Sloyer 21-yard run, 4:18, 22-0
BU: Gavin Price 18-yard run, 0:51, 30-0
PA: Dion Sylvester kickoff return, 0:36, 30-7
BU: Sloyer 6-yard pass to Price, 6:56, 36-7
BU: Caedon Berkenmeier 1-yard run, 8:37, 42-7
BU: Cody Long 35-yard run, 6:00, 50-7
PA: Ethan Houk pass to Tanner Barcus, 0:56, 50-15
BU: Hunter Reiling 6-yard run, 9:03, 56-15
PA: Houk 5-yard run, 2:50, 56-22