What Steve said: Steve Bubalo 12/15

Steve Bubalo

By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: December 16, 2014 - 10:09 AM



Each year I’m always excited when high school football is back and I’m always a little disappointed to see it go.

This past season has been another exciting one on the Missouri side, and while I didn’t cover every game, here are some of my personal highlights from games I saw in person.

Game of the Year: For me, it had to be the Rockhurst vs. Blue Springs Class 6 quarterfinal game, a 34-29 Hawklet win. This one had it all.

Bitter rivals. Two of the best coaches in the state. And a late two-point conversion attempt by Blue Springs to take the lead, only to have Rockhurst score the go-ahead touchdown on fourth-and-goal in the waning minutes. Not bad.

These teams have played some great games, and this one was right near the top.

Honorable mention would go to Oak Grove’s 69-23 pounding of three-time defensive state champ Maryville, ending the Spoofhound’s 42-game win streak. There was no incredible game-winning play, but just seeing the way the Panthers dominated that game was quite a sight.

Play of the Year: There are a couple of selections that stand out. First came early in the season, back in September, when Fort Osage quarterback Skylar Thompson found Willie Penamon for a 79-yard game-winning touchdown in the final minutes for a 24-20 win over Staley.

The Indians had just pulled off big wins over Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit a couple of weeks prior but it looked like the Falcons were going to pull off the upset. Thompson had been getting hit hard the entire second half but had just enough time to find Penamon.

The other standout play was by another quarterback, Rockhurst’s T.J. Green, and it came in that win over Blue Springs. On the final drive, he had a highlight play where he ran out of the pocket to his left, avoided a sack and unloaded a ball across the field to Lance Boehm for a 32-yard gain.

That play put the Hawklets inside the Wildcat 20 to set up the game-winning score.

Most exciting offensive player: I’m tweaking this one a little, as two guys come to mind – Oak Grove running back Aaron Graham and Raytown South quarterback Jabril Cox.

These guys have got to be two of the smoothest, make-it-look-easy runners in the state. I didn’t know much about Cox before the first time I saw him play but he was a treat. Speaking of top plays, he had a touchdown run where he scrambled up the middle, turned it to the outside and then tight-roped the sideline before out-running the defense. It was one you had to see to appreciate.

Both players were capable of big plays every time they touched the ball, and often Graham was doing just that during the Panthers’ state title run.

Best defensive player: Kearney linebacker Cale Garrett was all over the field in both Bulldog games I attended. The guy was everywhere, and he’s just a junior.

I still remember Liberty North head coach Ken Clemens saying Garrett shut down his teams running game by himself in an early-season Bulldog win, and I saw that same respect and appreciation for Garrett from the Webb City coaches after they ended Kearney’s season in the state semifinals.

Team of the Year: An easy choice, as the Oak Grove Panthers were the lone Kansas City team from Missouri to bring home a state championship, the first in school history. They outscored their opponents 59-25 on average in the playoffs.

Maybe most impressive in Oak Grove’s run was that they beat the Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 6 ranked teams in the state.

Not a bad way to finish the season.

Here’s to more area teams bringing home state titles in 2015.