What Steve said: Steve Bubalo 9/10
By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Going into last Friday night’s Blue Springs South-Blue Springs game, I was hoping to come away with a better sense of just how good the Jaguars were.
The last three years, after a state title in 2011, the Jaguars have played to an even .500 record, 16-16. Very un-South-like.
So this season’s Jaguars intrigued me after defeating a pair of very good Class 5 teams in Park Hill and Liberty North to start the season. Were they back? Would they make quick work of their 0-2 cross-town rival?
After the Jaguars hung on for a 27-24 win, this much is clear - this team is legit. I felt like for most of three quarters they were in control of the game.
But I also came away feeling like anyone who is sleeping on the now 0-3 Wildcats is going to be very disappointed. Don’t let that record fool you.
First off, for the Jaguars, it all starts with quarterback Noah Nigro. He can do damage with his arm and his legs, which he proved on South’s first scoring drive by breaking a tackle and scampering 57 yards, then two plays later throwing a great pass to Jerome Hawkins for a 30-yard score.
Hawkins is one of the other playmakers on offense, along with tailback Adam Cofield and wide receiver Rickey Nichols who hauled in the game’s biggest pass, a 52-yard bomb to set up a crucial field goal in the fourth quarter.
But it all rests with Nigro and the offensive line keeping him upright. Nigro has been haunted by injuries in the past and he hurt his shoulder Friday night and sat the last two drives of the fourth quarter. The offensive line is young, so assuming the injury isn’t serious, Nigro has to stay healthy for the Jaguars to make a deep playoff run.
The defense was stout until a couple of fourth-quarter lapses, led by guys like safety - and backup quarterback - Cale Connors and linebacker Camden Sprouse.
But that defense struggled a bit thanks in part to a Blue Springs offense that finally found its groove. Head coach Kelly Donohoe is dealing with a very young group this season, and it was almost as if something clicked in that fourth quarter.
I saw the playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, clear as day, a couple who weren’t even expected to play nearly as much as they did. With starting running back Trenton Spruell getting hurt in the first quarter, backup Jaylen Ivey rushed for a 140 yards in his absence. Third-stringer Michael Warmack had an impressive 28-yard touchdown run. Tyree King and Tanner Taula both made plays in the passing game.
It’s not often you’ll find a semi-upbeat Donohoe after a Wildcat loss, but his excitement with this group was unmistakable afterward. I can’t blame him.
And the schedule has prepared the youngsters. They’ve faced the No. 1 and No. 3 teams from Class 5 in Fort Osage and Staley, respectively, and the No. 4-ranked team in Class 6 in the Jaguars. And each week they’ve gotten better.
Having been a part of this rivalry from the stands as a Blue Springs South grad, Kansas City area football is just better when both of these teams are playing at a high level.
Blue Springs South appears to already be there with room to grow. And Blue Springs isn’t far behind.
I’m ready for the rematch.
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