BV North beats rival BV Northwest
By Matt Gerstner PrepsKC staff writer
Even through closed metal doors, you could hear the elation and emotion echoing through and onto the field as Blue Valley North coaches ran into the locker room and led their players in their postgame warrior chants.
Yes, they do it after every game. But this one was perhaps a bit more special.
The Mustangs beat their rival Blue Valley Northwest 28-21 for the first time since 2010 on homecoming night at the Blue Valley District Athletic Complex Friday night. The win moved them to 3-1, their best start in a “long time,” as coach Andy Sims pointed out.
“I think our guys are gaining some confidence and thinking we’re not too shabby either. This is kind of uncharted territory for us,” he said. “We haven’t won back to back games in a long time, let alone a homecoming game to push to a 3-1 start. It’s a great victory, we’re going to enjoy this one.”
Quarterback Joey Dolan threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns, two to Alex Blake, and running back Cooper Lantefield added 129 yards and a score on the ground.
“Northwest are our biggest rivals, so there was definitely a fire lit under us tonight,” Dolan said. “We really wanted this one. This was a pride game.”
The Mustangs rebounded from a missed field goal on their first drive with a six-play, 44 yard drive capped off by a Lantefield touchdown run from five yards out. North nearly extended their lead with a scoop-and-score on a quarterback sack, but the play was called back on a horsecollar penalty. One play later, Garrett Tierney went right up the gut for 47 yards and Northwest had tied the game.
North got the lead right back with a 47 yard strike of their own, this one a hookup between Dolan and Charlie Brock. But Northwest would score with 32 seconds on a leaping grab by Connor Hall from Jack Knutson to knot it at 14 going to the midway point of the game.
“It was in-game adjustments,” Sims said. “We went in with a game plan, and they outcoached in the first half in my opinion. They did a great job.”
North wasted little time getting their lead back out of halftime. The Huskies drove inside the opponents’ 30, but Keilon Hunter picked off Knutson at the 14. Dolan then found Blake streaking down the sideline for him to break a tackle and walk into the endzone.
Northwest looked to tie the game once more before disaster and déjà vu occurred simultaneously. The Huskies appeared to have converted a first down but the ball came loose and the Mustangs recovered at the Northwest 44. The next play, Blake was in the endzone again, putting him with five touchdown receptions in his last two games.
“If I’m ever in doubt, I just throw it up to him. He’s the guy I go to if I need to make a play,” Dolan said of his receiver. “It’s all about the confidence with him.”
Blake responded with, “That’s just how I think I can play every game.”
But the Huskies had a bit of fight in them. Knutson drove the offense to the 32 before tucking a scramble and outracing everyone down the sideline for the touchdown to bring his team to within seven.
The Huskies would get a shot to tie after Bates Christian intercepted a would-be dagger over the middle with 2:45 left. But it was the Mustangs’ night, and Carter Howes proved it, picking off a pass over the middle on the very next play.
“We had to come out in the second half and work on things we’re good at. I think we showed we can be physical when we need to be,” Sims said.
The win keeps the Mustangs near the top of the Eastern Kansas League standings, but a matchup with the undefeated leader atop the conference Blue Valley awaits next week.
“What’s great is we have nothing to lose. We have no pressure on us. Next week, we come out we play a great game, who knows what could happen?” Sims said. “Our focus this year is we really want to be at our peak form at the end of the season. We started that last year but needed to learn how to finish. The next game is important, but we also want to make sure we’re preparing for the end of the season, as well.”
But just like his receiver, Dolan was confident in himself and his teammates that this is a game North can win.
“We go into every week expecting we can win,” he said. “We knew this was a game we can win, and now we know we can win all the games. Now people are talking about North like the never have before, so it’s a good feeling.”
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