This is an unusual look for Blue Springs. The Wildcats are normally the bullies of Class 6 football in Kansas City.
This season, there’s a new king of the hill. On a freezing Friday night, the Wildcats got an up-close look at the new leader.
Liberty North, undefeated and ranked third in the state, demonstrated its dominance with a 31-14 victory over the Wildcats on the Eagles home field. To some, Liberty North’s rise to the top might be a surprise. It isn’t to Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe.
“They were a junior-heavy team last year,” Donohoe said. “We knew they would be a team that would be contending as a top team. We felt like we had to play a near-perfect game and we were confident that we could.”
No. 10 ranked Blue Springs (4-3) didn’t on this night. There was a costly fumble at the goal line at the end of the first half and a bevy of bobbled snaps in the 30-degree chill. The Wildcats moved the ball, with running back Quentin Fontenot rushing for 127 yards on 27 carries, but they often fell short on crucial plays.
“They just made more plays than we did,” Donohoe said. “And they’ve got really good players.”
Liberty North (7-0) used those players to churn out 422 total yards of offense in a balanced attack. Running back Keshawn Turner had 138 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, while Zac Willingham-Davis tallied another 87 yards and a TD. Quarterback Jake Van Dyne complemented the ground game with 119 passing yards and a TD.
But it was Blue Springs that dominated early. The Wildcats put together an 11-play 79-yard drive on their first possession, which ended with quarterback Dom Harkness lobbing a 34-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Xavier Loyd.
Liberty North tied it 7-7 in the second quarter when Van Dyne found Garrett Linn wide open at midfield for a 74-yard touchdown pass. Blue Springs looked poised to regain the lead on its ensuing drive when it marched to the Liberty 12-yard line, but running back Micah King fumbled at the goal line.
“That hurt because we had a chance to go up,” Donohoe said. “I think that might be our first tailback fumble on the season. We’ve been great holding onto the ball, but you can’t beat a really great team and do that.”
Turner’s first TD, a 34-yard run down the sideline that capped the first possession of the second half, put Liberty North up 14-7. A pass interference call on the Wildcats kept the dive going.