Restoring the roar

Nick Smith/PrepsKC

By Ryan Wallace PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: September 22, 2017 - 11:57 PM

After a disastrous 49-9 loss at the hands of Blue Valley on the road in Stilwell, Mill Valley’s Joel Applebee repeated one word over and over again – mistakes. Whether the errors were the kind only seen from the eyes of their veteran head coach or the more obvious types that led to (at least) 28-points for the Tigers, this was one EKL match-up Mill Valley hopes to forget and fast.

Outside of a kickoff return for a touchdown of more than 95-yards by Cameron Young on the first Jaguars’ possession, equalizing a first possession score from receiver Cameron Green and the Tigers offense moments before, Mill Valley appeared out of sync from the start. After all, they weren’t even able to tie the game after Young’s touchdown because of a missed PAT. From there, the Blue Valley side piled on 21-unanswered, first-quarter points in a span of less than four minutes to offer the visitors a taste of what would become a painfully long night for 5A’s No. 5 ranked program.

For Blue Valley’s first-year man in charge, Allen Terrell, the performance was as dominant on both sides as a coach could ask for. Methodically moving the ball offensively with both senior Luke Bernard and junior Walker Kinney under center, the Tigers struck on plays of all distances. From Blake Brown clinging to a short pass at the goal line to make it 14-6, to Eric Olson’s over the shoulder catch on a blazing 45-yard go-route down the black and gold sideline that extended the lead to 28-6 shortly after, the now 3-1 squad found virtually every element working.

That success would include a Rick McNerlin led defense too. Three times the Blue Valley defense would intercept one of the state’s most prolific passers in Mill Valley’s Brody Flaming, including one from Brown in the back corner of end zone that nullified what was an impressive 13-play drive from the Jaguars at the 1:47 mark of the second quarter. If that wasn’t demoralizing enough, Blue Valley would capitalize off the turnover just two plays later, as Olson dashed more than 80-yards out of the backfield for his second touchdown of the evening -- the same touchdown play the Tigers had called back for a penalty seconds before successfully running it again.

Though a half of play remained for Mill Valley, one it would keep 0-0 on the stat sheet, the 40-point deficit they faced at the break was far too much to overcome on Friday.

Now 2-2 on the season, Applebee finds his program in the midst of a defining stretch for a second straight season (St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Miege, and Blue Valley North ahead). In 2016, it was Blue Valley who kicked off a four-game losing streak for the Jaguars in September, a streak they’d eventually end in style by winning six in a row to hoist another 5A state championship. If there ever was a team to move forward with confidence in the long term, it’s this one.

For Blue Valley, maybe no EKL team’s spirits are higher heading into a week-five affair against undefeated St. James Academy. Blown out at the hands of Miege to open 2017, the rejuvenated Tigers now find themselves in position to take over second place with a victory on the road next Friday.