Wellington loses season opener to Collegiate in first game back from its COVID-19 outbreak

Greg Williams
Wellington Daily News

Wellington had to wait an extra week compared to every other high school in Kansas due to the COVID-19 outbreak they suffered on Aug. 26.

This forced the Crusaders to cancel their original season opener against Clearwater.

Now, back from the temporary closure, the Crusaders finally got to kick off their season against Wichita-Collegiate.

However, after coming missing a week of practice and jumping into game preparationWellington would drop their season opener to Collegiate in a 35-13 loss.

The Crusaders got off to a hot start on their first two drives, but after stalling in the red zone and turning the ball over, the Crusaders had a tough time getting anything going.

"Collegiate made some adjustments," said Wellington head coach Zane Aguilar. "They started loading the box and we missed on some opportunities. We'll look at the positives and make some corrections."

That wasn't a problem for Collegiate. They marched down the field and scored the game's first touchdown with no problem. 

The second time Collegiate had the ball, they got near the goal line but they turned it over on downs. Wellington didn't move an inch when they got the ball back and had to punt. 

Collegiate got the ball back in Wellington territory and they found a way to extend their lead with a one-yard touchdown from quarterback Wesley Fair. 

Wellington's had another crack at answering the Collegiate touchdown, but they moved themselves in the wrong direction. The Crusaders kept committing penalties, forcing incompletions, and getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage. 

"Most of those penalties were my fault," said Aguilar. "I need to prepare our players a little better. We tried to put guys in different positions that they haven't gotten a lot of reps at. That's my fault for putting it on them."

Coming out of halftime, Wellington was trailing 21-0 and they were set to kickoff to Collegiate. However, the Spartans didn't end up with the ball. 

The Crusaders performed a sky kick along their sideline and Jack Wright kicked the ball in a perfect spot for Wellington to recover.

This got the momentum going for Wellington. After a couple of plays, quarterback Malachi Rogers found the endzone on a 19-yard run for the Crusaders' first touchdown of the season. 

Collegiate would quickly answer with a touchdown of their own. 

Wellington couldn't get their offense going after the Collegiate touchdown, but Collegiate kept forcing the Crusaders to punt or turn it over on downs. 

Eventually, Wellington would find the endzone eventually. It would come with 13 seconds left in the game as Rogers connected with Brody Weir for a five-yard touchdown.

The Crusaders fall to 0-1 and will travel to Andale to take on the No. 1 team in Kansas. 

"We have to move on from this," said Aguilar. "We are going from facing the No. 2 team in the state to the No. 1 team in the state. Andale is really good and we get an opportunity to play them."

Greg Williams has been the reporter for the Wellington Daily News and Butler County Times-Gazette since May 2021. You can reach him at GWilliams@gannett.com or on Twitter at @GregWilliams28.