Rock's defense wins the night
By Brian Spano PrepsKC staff writer
Like two heavyweight fighters, poking jabs, recoiling defensively, waiting to land the first haymaker, the Blue Springs Wildcats and the Rockhusrt Hawklets stood toe-to-toe Friday night inside Dasta Memorial Staduim. It was Wildcats that landed the first blow, but it was Rockhurst who threw the knockout punch in a 7-6 defensive battle.
When these two high school football titans clash, there will always be compelling storylines.This year’s edition of the rivalry, did not disappoint.
From outstanding defense from both sides to a missed extra point to Rockhusrt defensive end Dan Tapko not playing the second half because of cramps to a two-interception night for Rockhurst defensive back Kevin Berg to a 112-yard rushing night for Darrian Miller, there was something for everyone.
Through the first quarter, both teams may have been playing tentatively as both struggled to move the ball. It wasn’t until early in the second quarter that Blue Springs (0-1) took the lead and held the momentum for the rest of the half.
Kyle Brown hit Jordan Nubine on a 13-yard fade route into the corner of the end zone to take a 6-0 lead. The extra point was missed, but little did the Blue Springs sideline know at that time that this was going to be the difference in the game.
“We were using Nick (Waite) in a tough situation,” said a disappointed Wildcats’ coach Kelly Donohoe after the game. “This was definitely not on him, it’s on us as a coaching staff, but aside from that, we turned the ball over two times deep in the red zone.”
Turnovers did gnaw at the Wildcats, and the Hawklet responsible for taking the biggest bite of their momentum was Berg. He intercepted two Wildcat passes, including one on a halfback option play near the Hawklets own goal line that helped seal the victory. It was a turning point late in the game, but more importantly, it kept Blue Springs out of the end zone and regaining the lead.
“I got burnt on the touchdown play to Nubine, so the coaches told me to shrug it off,” Berg said.“They were throwing to him a lot, and I knew they were picking on me.”
Rockhurst (1-0) scored its only touchdown midway through the third period when Frank Arbanas hooked up with Ryan Karlin for a 35-yard strike.Griffin Bins split the uprights and the ballgame was settled.
So it seemed until Berg picked off the Miller pass at the three-yard line.
Blue Springs had one last gasp in them midway through the fourth frame, pounding the ball at the Rockhurst defensive line with run after run with Miller.All of this without Tapko in the game because of cramps.
“Cramps were a problem,” said Hawklets head coach Tony Severino. “You have a game of this quality this early with all of the emotions, it was a fun game for the fans and a fun game to coach on a beautiful night, but I think the players would like it to be about 15 degrees cooler.”
Donohoe echoed the same sentiments as several Wildcats suffered the same fate.
“Cramping was an issue, and it hurt us.”
Even with players going down on both sides throughout the second half, each defense was able to pull it together and get stops when they needed to.
“Coming off of last year, we lost a few defensive starters,” said teary-eyed Blue Springs linebacker Josh Baker. “As the weeks go by, we will progress as a team.Losing 7-6 against the number one team in the state…I thought we played pretty well.”
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