Long time coming

Susie Gurley/Special to PrepsKC

By Ryan Wallace PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 3, 2015 - 2:17 AM

Blue Valley North would not go away -- not this team, not this night. 

Since before the new millennium, Blue Valley had not lost to the Mustangs on the gridiron and if it ever was a rivalry, there wasn’t much left of it these days between the eldest of the Blue Valley’s.

But as the closed fists of Charlie Brock pumped through the air moments after corralling a lofted touchdown pass from quarterback Joey Dolan with 22 seconds remaining on the scoreboard, an uncontrollable hysteria let loose.

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The rivalry is back, the Mustangs are for real, and the streak is over. Oh, and the Eastern Kansas League title may soon have a new home after Blue Valley North stunned Kansas Class 6A No. 2 Blue Valley 28-27 in thrilling fashion.

“We believe we can win,” Blue Valley North head coach Andy Sims said amidst the post-game jubilation. “I think our guys are done, you know, being a doormat. They’re hungry and they want to win, so my job is pretty simple in that regard.”

“Our hard work comes from the offseason and what we do daily. I’ve said from day one- you work on the little things and big things happen. That’s what you saw tonight. “

Big things indeed.

Down 27-10 after an 11-yard Will Evans touchdown run, Blue Valley North had less than 10 minutes remaining to rewrite history. Thanks to some early success though, it wasn’t a deficit too large for the upstart offense.

“Well the running game at the start was clicking and that helped us run some play action,” recalled Dolan, the Mustang’s heroic star, afterwards. “We were just working the short passing game and the running game to move the ball down the field and, actually, we left some points on the board.”

Teaming up with fellow senior Cooper Lantefield in the backfield, Dolan and the Blue Valley North offense were able to wear down the Tigers defense from the opening snap. Lantefield, whose 64 rushing yards largely came on the team’s first two possessions, paved the way for the Mustangs special evening in the beginning, bursting into the end zone from eight yards out to go up 7-0 late in the first quarter. And although the offense wasn’t able to add to the scoreboard again until a short, fourth-quarter field goal with 11:50 left made it 21-10, Blue Valley head coach Eric Driskell knew the opposing offense had something going on Friday.

“They’re a good football team and they made a lot of good plays,” said Driskell. “We’ve got to finish drives and we’ve got to get our defense off the field, but they made more plays than we did in all three phases of the game. That’s the biggest difference.”

Tiger quarterback Colton McCumber, who finished with 134 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, did all he could to single handedly jumpstart what was a bland offensive night for Blue Valley overall. For once though, it wouldn’t be McCumber stealing the headlines but instead Dolan’s magician-like elusiveness with fans flocking for the exits.

“He embodies what a lot of our guys have and that is a ton of heart,” says Sims. “There were a lot of personal fouls where he took some shots but he just kept going because he has that will to win. You can’t coach that. It’s nothing I’ve done, that’s just Joey.”

Even with the late lead, the added pressure Blue Valley sent on defense was indicative of the ability they knew Blue Valley North’s veteran leader possessed. Continuously extending plays by alluding Tiger defenders, Dolan connected first with junior Sam Shortall at the 5:28 mark of the final quarter to give the visitors life. Then, with 1:15 left on the clock, it was Dolan again hooking up with his favorite target on the night, senior Charlie Brock, zipping a red-zone pass through the outstretched arms of a leaping defender and bring the Mustangs within five at 27-22.

Lining up for an onside kick, Blue Valley North had to secure the ball in order to stay alive. They’d come too far to turn back now. Thanks to perfect execution, they brought in the pigskin clean, giving their magic man under center one more chance to pull off a miracle.

“When we got the onside kick, I told everyone, ‘We are going to win this game’,” Dolan said after his 274-yard passing night. “There was no doubt in my mind. We were going to win this game.”

Repeatedly scrambling for life on the final drive, Dolan located receivers against the sideline and put the Tigers on their heels. That is until the Brock broke loose from coverage and ran down a falling toss from Dolan at the pylon. Cue madness.

“If it hasn’t already, I hope this puts us on the map a little bit,” finished Dolan, a crowd of navy clad supporters suffocating the locker room doors he stands outside of. “We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder and we’re underdogs every game. We just love proving people wrong.”

With the loss, Blue Valley now loses its grasp on the top of the EKL and must regroup quickly as stingy St. Thomas Aquinas strolls in next week.

“We hope so, we hope so,” Driskell said in response to whether his team won’t have to struggle bouncing back against a program the caliber of the Saints.

As for the new leaders of the pack in southern Johnson County, regularity still applies for Sims.

“We have a 24-hour rule no matter the result and, right now, it’s all about Gardner Edgerton,” Sims said. “I’ve said since I got here, the goal is to win a league championship and now we have that opportunity next Friday.”

Then again, rules are made to be broken because this is a result that will be felt by Blue Valley North for many years to come.