Blue Springs wins second straight title
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
ST. LOUIS. Mo. - Winning these state championships is sort of becoming habit for these Blue Springs Wildcats.
While the Wildcat locomotive barreled its way toward the Edward Jones Dome for the second consecutive year, the only thing that seemed to change was which opponent would lie in its tracks.
This year, Rock Bridge out of Columbia, Mo., had to contend with its powerful offense and brick wall defense.
Blue Springs, 14-0, won its second straight Class 6 Show-Me Bowl 35-14, its fifth overall and fourth under head coach Kelly Donohoe.
"We always told our players that we wanted to be the hunted not the hunters," Donohoe said. "It takes a toll after a while. It's been 14 weeks where we've been fending people off, and I'm so proud of these guys for what they've been able to do."
And just how special was this one?
"This was the most relieved," he said. "Everyone is different, and everyone is very special, but this group, we wanted to see them go out on a great note, and I feel great relief that they are state champs and they've done something that people will talk about for a long time."
To get the Wildcats on the board first, Darrius Shepherd ran a punt back 49 yards for a score with 4:30 to play in the first quarter. It seemed to put a charge into the Blue Springs sideline.
"We got out there slow, and plays weren't working the way we wanted them to," Shepherd said. "When I went out there on the punt return, I wanted to make a big play, and I knew when I got that play going it would spark the offense and spark the defense, and after that, we started rolling."
In the second quarter, Ian Brown connected with Kaleb Prewett twice, and then Cobi Bissell went in form four yards out after Dalvin Warmack went down with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Rock Bridge added a score right before the intermission when Logan Twehous hit Zach Reuter in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 28-7. Twehous had a rough night. He was sacked five times and later went out with a broken clavicle only to be replaced by backup Karson Ringdahl.
The Bruins, 8-6, made it interesting in the third quarter. Hayden Jonson bulled in from a yard out with 2:13 to play to cut the lead in half, and it seemed that momentum had shifted, but just 1:09 later, the Wildcats marched right back down the field, keyed by an Ian Brown to Prewett 46-yard pass and capped by a Bissell 36-yard bolt to put Blue Springs back up by three scores.
"We told our guys that we were going to change momentum right now," Donohoe said. "It was 28-14, and we got the ball back, and we asked Kaleb how his legs felt. We called a 24 go, and told Ian to make a play right here to change this momentum right now. That throw changed it."
Rock Bridge did everything it could to shake off the Wildcats, but in the end, the defense that came up big all year did what it needed to do to come up with the big play when Antwon President intercepted Ringdahl with four minutes to play.
"I think we took a little bit longer than we needed to realize that we belonged in the game," Rock Bridge head coach A.J. Ofodile said. "Blue Springs is a phenomenal football program. Coach Donohoe does a great job, his kids are respectful, they play hard, they're well coached, so we knew going in having played these guys a bunch in the past what the challenge was."
Shawnee Mission South Raiders
Raytown South Cardinals
Pembroke Hill Raiders
North Kansas City Hornets
St. Joseph Central Indians
Blue Valley West Jaguars
St. James Academy Thunder
Mill Valley Jaguars
Oak Park Northmen
St. Joseph LeBlond Golden Eagles