Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 12/2
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
EMPORIA, Kan. — There are few things that are consistent about comments from Blue Valley head coach Eric Driskell.
The Blue Valley grad, longtime assistant and fifth-year head coach is about as honest and forthright as they come.
But there is one theme that seems to run through his comments — pregame and postgame.
He talks about his teams’ legacy.
Even before the Tigers traveled to Emporia, Driskell made sure his team knew that they are special for what they had accomplished.
“Our kids are excited to get to keep the 2015 edition of the Blue Valley Tigers together for one more week. We really all enjoy being around each other.”
And it didn’t change after the tough loss to Derby on Saturday.
“I just don’t want them to lose sight of what they accomplished and how great this year was and how special they are,” Driskell said.
While the box score may have said that the Panthers dominated — both on the scoreboard (27-14) and in total yardage (419-149) — the Tigers weren’t out of the Kansas Class 6A state title game until there were three minutes remaining in the game.
They battled back to pull to within six points with nine minutes to play and it really charged up the Tigers’ sideline.
“It was exciting on the sidelines. They kids had been battling and battling,” Driskell said.
They continued to battle — employing one of the best bend-but-don’t-break defensive philosophies.
The Tigers’ Richard Daily Blocked a field goal attempt by Derby with 4:15 to play, giving the weary Tigers life.
The Tigers took over at their own 9-yard line.
A screen to the left pushed them back to the 6, but a 15-yard pass interference penalty on a play down the left sideline that could have a been a big gainer, set the Tigers up at the 21.
But two plays later, an 11-yard sack on third down put them in a deep fourth-and-15 hole with 3:07 to play.
Blue Valley quarterback Colton McCumber rolled to the right and then cut back to his left and were it not for a shoestring tackle by Derby’s Tommy Carter at the 24, McCumber might have eaten up another 20 or 30 yards and put the Tigers in real position to challenge for a game-tying touchdown and potential go-ahead extra point.
That would be the Tigers last grasp on Saturday, but it didn’t take away from what the Tigers had accomplished through the first 12 games of the season.
As the Tigers were together on the field to accept their runner-up trophy, Driskell tried to help them keep things in perspective.
“(At that point) you tell them the truth,” he said. “They are a great football team and they got beat by a great football team. It’s hard to win football games. They just made a couple more plays then we did.”
In the grand scheme of things, the only thing that went wrong for the Tigers on Saturday was that they didn’t score enough points.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids, they gave a tremendous effort,” Driskell said. “Derby is a good football team, but like I told our kids, we are a good football team, too.”
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