BV North hands Mill Valley fourth straigh loss
By Ryan Wallace PrepsKC staff writer
Back inside their home stadium following a brutal EKL stretch that saw them lose three-straight, Mill Valley was aiming for Friday night’s contest with Blue Valley North to be a chance at regaining some late regular season steam.
Just as quickly as Payton Thielmann returned the game’s opening kick for a thunderous touchdown, so too went the Jaguars opportunity, dashed by a complete performance displayed from the Mustangs in a commanding 52-23 victory.
“That’s shocking to me,” admitted Blue Valley North head coach Andy Sims afterwards. “Obviously we want to play well and we’re not a bad football team, but that is definitely not a bad football team. I really just think we had a lot of things go our way tonight, but we made those breaks happen in our favor.”
Typically a staple of Mill Valley’s recent success, it was the visitors who controlled the line of scrimmage and used the surge on both sides of the ball to bewilder the EKL newcomers who fall to 3-4 on the year.
Led up front by a pair of highly-touted collegiate prospects, senior Peter Klug and junior Miles Emery, along with the play of the unheralded Alex Buffo, the Mustangs defensive line in particular stifled Mill Valley’s stat-driven attack by frustrating quarterback Brody Flaming.
“Whenever the defense comes out and we come together and gel, I feel like our defense can’t be beat (at the line of scrimmage),” the 6-foot-6 Klug stated after the victory. “Nobody can drive on us. So then when our offense comes out and puts that many points on the board, it just takes that much more pressure off of us and lets us go out and play loose to make turnovers.”
“I thought offensively we played well at times other than the turnovers again,” said Mill Valley head coach Joel Applebee, whose team managed just a single score in the first half, trailing 35-7 at the break. “They’re an unbelievable defensive line that’s very talented though. My disappointment was more on defense because we’re giving up way too many big plays and making way too many mental mistakes right now.”
While senior defensive back Joel Donn has stepped up and done his part to limit opposing offenses, the rest of Mill Valley’s defense has struggled of late and this game was no exception. With lineman such as junior Nick Orr creating gaps between the tackles, tailback Grant Hamel had a field day on the ground, rushing for four scores, two of which totaled close to 80-yards.
“I like to rush a lot of things and coach a lot of things quickly, but the ability to physically move a guy in front of you takes a little time,” began Sims on his offense’s progression in the run game this season. “One thing you can’t rush is the weight room and I think what you’re seeing when we run the ball is three years of work there. You’re seeing guys finish blocks and establish that part of the offense.”
“We started doing more in practice and putting in some new plays after that tough three-game stretch we had at the beginning of the season,” said Klug of a Blue Valley North offense that has rattled off 128-points in three weeks, improving to 4-3. “Since then, it seems like the offense has started putting it all together and made huge plays. Grant Hamel running, those catches by Payton Thielmann and Deion Lee- it’s just amazing to see.”
While the Mustangs haven’t lost since September 23, three-weeks now, Mill Valley now looks ahead to senior night against fellow 3-4 Gardner Edgerton, desperate to turn the tide before 5A playoff seeding.
“I have no doubt with our seniors that we’ll be alright,” finished Applebee. “I love this whole group. It’s never been an effort thing with them. It’s about the mental mistakes we have to get rid of and learning to trust each other.”
As for the Sims and Blue Valley North, the level of play continues to improve on both sides of the ball at the right time. Much like last year’s memorable campaign, one of the program’s best in recent memory, Klug and other leaders are determined to not lose the fuel instilled by the class of 2015.
“I do feel like we’re stepping in that direction and following their footsteps because that was a special group, but we’re also building on last year too and that’s what’s really exciting.”
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