Panthers defense sends a message
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Staff Writer
If defense is what wins championships, then the rest of the Missouri Class 5 playoff contenders need to be leery of the Park Hill South Panthers.
The Panthers flexed their defensive muscle Wednesday night defeating the Raytown Blue Jays 34-16 in a regional playoff game at Park Hill District Stadium. South, 8-3, advances to the sectional round, hosting Raytown South next Monday night, but more about that game later.
This contest was all about the Panthers swarming and stifling defense. Raytown, 4-7, ran 13 plays from scrimmage that went for negative yards, including three quarterback sacks. And converted linebacker Myles Krieger did a lot of the damage himself.
With the score 21-0 late in the second quarter, Krieger spotted Raytown quarterback Chris Flansburg eyeing his receiver downfield when Krieger stepped in front at his own 39-yard line. And with nothing but a green football field in front of him, he rumbled 61 yards for the touchdown.
“This was probably the most memorable moment in my high school career,” the senior, who once was a fullback said with a grin after the game. “I read him (Flansburg) in the backfield, and the ball hung up in the air. I didn’t go for the tackle, I went for the pick and then took it to the house.”
Oh, but he wasn’t quite finished with his night. Krieger intercepted a second Flansburg pass barely a minute later. Although the outcome wasn’t the same, it did put an end to a Raytown drive and the first half.
“They played well tonight, and they’ve played really well all year long,” Panthers head coach Mark Simcox said of his defensive squad. “They run well to the ball, and they play aggressive.”
Prior to Krieger’s pick six, Austin Green returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown, and running backs Darren Davis and Caleb Sims each rushed for a score.
“They definitely came out with a great game plan, and they were executing,” Blue Jays head coach Kevin Page said. “We felt our game plan was solid, but it comes down to execution when you come into these games. Credit to Park Hill South. They were very, very methodical, and they executed their game plan to a tee.”
Raytown entered the game with a lot of youth on both sides of the ball. Flansburg, a sophomore, was quarterbacking just his third varsity game. Nine of the 11 defensive starters will return next year, so the future looks bright.
“For them to get in there and fight for this victory and then suffer the defeat, that does nothing but serve as motivation for us next season,” Page said.
On Monday, Nov. 8, Park Hill South is scheduled to host Raytown South in the next round of the playoffs at the Park Hill District Stadium. Well, Park Hill High School is also scheduled to host a game on Monday versus the Staley Falcons. As of the end of Wednesday night’s games, no decision had been made to either move one of the games to another field or the possibility of schedule a doubleheader.
Regardless of the scheduling snafu, the Panthers may not care where they play given the hot streak they are currently on.
Park Hill South got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season. After a 21-0 win over Belton to kick off the campaign, they lost two straight to Blue Springs South and cross-town rival Park Hill. Since then, Simcox has righted the ship winning seven of the last eight games, including its first district title since 2004 and its first-ever Suburban Mid Six Conference championship.
“It was a slow start because it was something new for everybody,” Simcox, who is in his first year at Park Hill South, said. “We were trying to find guys and to get them in the right spot because we were asking them to do things that they had not had to do before.
“For where we are experience-wise, I couldn’t ask for a whole lot more. They’re doing a great job, and they’re starting to believe in what we’re doing.”
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