BS South rolls to another state title game
By Matt Gerstner PrepsKC staff writer
Blue Springs South’s ticket is punched.
The Jaguars, just one year removed from a 5-6 record, used 27 first half points and earned their fifth Show-Me Bowl appearance in school history following a 41-17 win at Kirkwood in the state semifinals. Running back Jerome Hawkins racked up 171 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Noah Nigro and receiver Briley Moore-McKinney hooked up for two scores through the air.
The win keeps South’s perfect record in state semifinals intact, a fact that head coach Greg Oder credited with the Kansas City area teams and their overall strength.
“It’s a tough place to play football, and one of the things that helps us is that if you ever get out of it, you’ve been war-tested because you’re playing tough teams all the time. So when you get to the playoffs and playing tough teams, it definitely helps us,” he said. “Our schedule is a beast, and every week the kids have to prepare and play hard. Our kids our used to playing good teams.”
It took just one play for the Jags to assert their first half-offensive dominance as Adam Cofield took a handoff around the end for a 62-yard score. The extra point missed, but Hawkins widened the lead to 13-0 with a 55-yard breakout on just the third offensive play for South.
“We were just taking what they were giving us,” Hawkins said. “We knew we had to come out and fight hard.”
Kirkwood looked to answer as Jerod Alton broke off a 64-yard run to set up the Pioneers in the Jaguar red zone, but South’s defense forced the field goal and DJ Frost came up with the block. Nigro then engineered an 80-yard drive to make it 20-0, capped off by his first touchdown pass to Moore-McKinney.
Jamahl Scott got Kirkwood on the board just 1:04 after the Moore-McKinney score with a 56-yard touchdown run, but South got it right back with a methodical drive that ended with a four-yard Nigro plunge into the endzone to make it 27-7 at the half.
“We knew they had a great defense coming into the game, but our line blocked amazingly,” Moore-McKinney said. “We couldn’t have won this game without them. All credit goes to them opening up those holes.”
The Pioneers came out hot in the second half cutting the lead to two scores as quarterback Reece Goddard found Tahj Telfair down the middle for a 71 yard touchdown, showing off what Kirkwood was touted for as a big-play offense.
“We knew that they could bust big plays, so all week we were preaching swarm to the ball. We knew if a play is broken they can take it for a touchdown,” Moore-McKinney said.
Things got even more tight when Kirkwood came up with a Nigro fumble in Jaguar territory, but the South defense held at their own two to force a 19-yard field goal and keep a 27-17 lead.
“We just kept our heads up,” Hawkins said. “It’s going to be tough in the semifinals, but we overcame it.”
That, however, would be as close as Kirkwood would get.
After both teams turned the ball over on downs with fake punt runs, Kirkwood came up with another fumble before Micah Mayberry picked off Goddard after his receiver slipped. That’s when Nigro found Moore-McKinney again and he took off 42 yards for the score. Nick Blair and Hayden Wallace put the game on ice with their respective sack-strip and fumble recovery. Kirkwood came close to the endzone again late in the game, but the defense picked off Goddard again. Hawkins then went back for seconds in the endzone with an 81-yard run with 1:04 left to give the game its final score.
Oder simply said of the late touchdown run: “It felt really nice.”
South will head to the Edward Jones Dome in two weeks to face Christian Brothers College, the defending Class 6 champions and no stranger to South ever since the Jags beat the Cadets for their first title in 2006 and again for their second title in 2011.
Moore-McKinney and the Jags didn’t seem intimidated by their undefeated (and mostly unchallenged) opponents.
“We’re ready,” he said. “We’ve been hearing about them all season and now it’s time. They have an absolutely amazing team and have some great players that we’re excited to play against.”
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