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Jason Lawrence/PrepsKC

By Jason Lawrence PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 16, 2015 - 9:57 PM

“Back-to-back, back-to-back,” the Park Hill football team chanted as the circled up at midfield of Raymond James Field Friday night at the Independence All-School Stadium.

The Trojans, ranked No. 5 in Class won, won their eighth-straight game, topping Truman 38-16 to win their second consecutive Suburban Middle Six title.

“I told the kids every win from here on out is an additional name on the banner and something they can show their kids 20 or 30 years from now,” Park Hill head coach Josh Hood said. “The kids really understand that and they appreciate anything they can bring home to Park Hill.”

For the better part of the second quarter, however, No. 9 Truman (7-2) had the defending conference champions on the ropes.

Park Hill struck quickly, scoring on a 55-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Billy Maples to senior wide receiver Kentrez Bell on the game’s opening drive.

After trading punts, Truman senior quarterback Dean Clemons came out of the game following the first play of the Patriots’ second drive with a dislocated left elbow, forcing Truman head coach Gregg Webb to scramble a little bit.

“We actually had a play called the very next play that I thought was going to be a decent play, and then he goes out,” Webb said. “On the con side, we couldn’t throw it anymore, so they could just throw them all in there. On the plus side, Jordan (Salima) got it every time. He got it 37 times, we should have gave it to him 50. I’m a little disappointed we only ran it 37 times now.

“The trickle-down effect, the domino effect of one guy going down is crazy.”

The Patriots went into the wildcat, and led by tailback Jordan Salima, marched down to the Trojans’ 1-yard line. Webb inserted senior Jonathan Gosserand, who left later in the game with an injury as well, under center, but the very next snap was fumbled and the Trojans turned a would-be Truman touchdown into a 14-point swing.

On the first play of the second quarter, Park Hill senior running back Zach Neal broke free up the middle and outran the Patriots’ defense 90 yards to the end zone.

“Instead of 8-7, it’s 14 because they break one and now we’re just climbing uphill the whole time,” Webb said.

From there, though, Salima and the Patriots stole the momentum.

The senior standout capped an 85-yard drive with a 29-yard touchdown run and added the two-point conversion. Then, after forcing a three-and-out, Salima scored his second touchdown — this one from 5 yards out — and sophomore Juan Flores gave the Patriots a 16-14 lead with a two-point run.

“It’s almost like when we got ahead our kids said, ‘Holy cow, that’s a good job,’” Webb said. “Then the second half, we just laid a complete egg. They made some adjustments defensively and started twisting and turning.”

Even when the Trojans knew what was coming — heavy doses of Salima, who finished with 263 yards on 37 carries — Hood’s defense had a hard time corralling him.

“He’s a beast. He’s tough as nails,” Hood said. “… That kid’s got a great motor. We can’t settle for two or three tacklers, we’ve got to bring seven or eight and we did a better job of that in the second half.”

The Trojans adjusted in the second half, scoring 24 unanswered points while limiting the Patriots to just three first downs.

“We told them we were where we wanted to be (at halftime),” Hood said. “We made a couple mistakes in the first half, and our coaches do a great job of making adjustments every halftime. We’re always confident in the second half and the kids feel like we’re a second-half team, the way we’ve been built all season.”

On their first possession of the second half, junior Parker Sampson booted a 32-yard field goal. Then Maples, who was 11-of-15 for 167 yards, threw touchdown passes on back-to-back drives.

First, he connected with sophomore DJ Johnson on a 14-yard fade route before hitting Bell, who caught five passes for 80 yards, on a 21-yard post route.

“We’ve got a lot of players and we like to keep them happy,” Hood said. “They show us what they can do on the field. They like to compete against each other. Every time they get the ball, they try and one-up each other.”

Sophomore running back Dorian Clayton capped the scoring with a 7-yard run with 1:19 remaining to reach the final 38-16 margin.

“Going against one of the better teams in 5A, we thought we would be in the game,” Webb said. “After playing them, we’re not that far behind them. With all of our kids, we’d be right there with them.”

Park Hill (8-1) is the No. 2 seed in District 8 and will host seventh-seeded Oak Park (1-8) next Friday. Truman, which earned the second seed in District 7, receives a first round bye and will play again Friday, Oct. 30