BV North edges BV Southwest

By Andrew Robinson PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 22, 2016 - 7:38 AM

After a three-game losing streak through most of September, perhaps Blue Valley North is finding its stride at just the right time.

Friday night, behind a balanced offensive attack, the Mustangs (5-3) defeated Blue Valley Southwest 28-21 at the Blue Valley District Activity Complex. It was Blue Valley North’s fourth consecutive win and sealed a home game for the first round of the Kansas 6A playoffs next week.

Blue Valley Southwest (1-7) had an opportunity to tie the game with less than two minutes to go, but an incomplete pass by Timberwolves’ quarterback Will Eldridge on fourth down deep in Blue Valley North territory dashed those hopes.

“I’m proud of my kids because they didn’t beat a one-win team in my mind tonight,” said Blue Valley North coach Andy Sims.

The Mustangs went up 28-14 late in the third quarter when Blue Valley North senior quarterback Cole Chapman connected with senior receiver Deion Lee for a 68-yard touchdown pass.

But the Timberwolves wouldn’t go away. Blue Valley Southwest used a 13-play drive covering 79 yards to get back within a touchdown. Eldridge threw to senior running back Jack Sailer for a 9-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-21.

From there, the Timberwolves would have a few more chances to tie it, but each time North’s defense stood strong.

“It was huge,” Sims said.  “Unfortunately, we couldn’t put it away. We had to put our defense out there and they rise to the occasion.”

Also rising to the occasion on Friday evening for the Mustangs was junior tailback Grant Hamel. Hamel rushed for 210 yards on 30 carries. His evening would include a 60-yard run that set up his only touchdown from a yard out which gave Blue Valley North a quick 14-7 lead out of halftime.

He also had back-to-back runs of 15 yards or more to set up the Mustangs for a touchdown that would give them a 21-7 lead in the third quarter.

“It’s a great feeling that my team trusts me,” Hamel said. “When we get the pass game going, it really opens things up for me.”

Relying on Hamel is a formula the Mustangs have used all season.

“The guy is a playmaker. That’s all there is to it. He has the things tailbacks have,” Sims said. “He has great vision, good instincts and at the end of the day they’re tough and he’s all of that.”

The Timberwolves were relying heavily on a running game as well, but Blue Valley Southwest’s leading rusher, senior running back Dane Pedersen was injured shortly before halftime and never returned.

Early, Blue Valley Southwest looked as if it was going to carry momentum from its upset of St. Thomas Aquinas a week ago. The Timberwolves opened the game with an efficient 15-play, 80-yard drive and then intercepted Chapman on the ensuing possession but couldn’t capitalize with a score.

With the score tied at halftime, Blue Valley North used a five-play drive before the aforementioned touchdown by Hamel.

While the official playoff schedule will be released later this weekend, it would appear Blue Valley North will host a playoff game, while the Timberwolves will be on the road.

And despite having won just one game, Blue Valley Southwest coach Anthony Orrick is confident in his team heading into the first round.

“I really think we’ve got a chance,” he said. “I think the eastern side of the state has some openings. I think we have a shot to make some noise.“

On the other side, Blue Valley North’s Chapman knows what’s at stake.

“We just have to keep getting better,” he said. “We know we have to win the next game.”