Park Hill grabs gold with win over BS South

David Rainey/The Examiner

By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: October 14, 2017 - 2:00 AM

There are very few easy wins in the Suburban Gold Conference, so if by the end of game nine you can crown yourself conference champs, it’s been a pretty successful regular season.

Park Hill, in just its second year in Class 6 and part of the Suburban Golf Conference, squeaked out a hard-fought 24-20 win over Blue Springs South tonight, and thanks to their tiebreaker over Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit West’s loss to Lee’s Summit, earned its first Suburban Gold Conference championship.

“All the teams in conference are so tough,” Park Hill head coach Josh Hood said, after his team finished the regular season 7-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play. “Any advantage you can get is a big deal. This is a great thing for our program and for our community.”

Added cornerback Devin Haney, “My team deserves this. We’ve worked our butts off all season. We’re getting our pay.”

Haney and the defense were a big reason the Trojans walked off the field a winner Friday night.

The Trojans led 24-7 late in the third quarter but four interceptions by the Jaguar defense in the second half put the Trojan defense on the field often. The Jaguars began to chip away and after a 41-yard touchdown pass to DJ Frost and two Nathan Rockwell field goals, all of a sudden it was 24-20.

The Park Hill offense was unable to move the ball and a bad punt gave South the ball at the Trojan 39-yard line with all the momentum.

“Our mindset is that if the offense is down, the defense picks them up. We knew we had to step up,” Haney said.

South started to move the ball and thought an Austin Terry run put them at the 1-yard line, but a holding penalty pushed them back.

“We have to clean some stuff up,” Blue Springs South head coach Jon Oyler said. “We had too many penalties in crucial situations.”

Three incompletions later, facing a fourth-and-21, Ethan Smith sacked Brody Parker and forced a fumble that Cole Gonier recovered for the Trojans. The Jaguars would get the ball back one more time with just 41 seconds remaining and no timeouts but were unable to get a first down to seal the Park Hill victory.

“The offense never put (the defense) in an advantageous position in the second half,” Hood said. “But the kids were resilient and held on.”

“At that point it’s a mental game,” Haney added. “We told ourselves we’ve got this. Confidence is key.”

Haney was a ball-hawk all game, collecting three interceptions. His second one was timely, as the Jaguars had just cut the deficit to 17-7 on a Skyler Meyers pick-six, which was followed up by another South interception, this one by Frost.

But on the very next play, Haney picked off Parker on a deep pass and seven plays later, Dorian Clayton found the end zone from 5 yards out for his second touchdown and what turned out to be the game-winning score and a 24-7 lead.

As for the Jaguars, their offense was too inconsistent. Parker threw three interceptions and they had a turnover-on-downs on their first drive of the second half, as Oyler opted to go for it on fourth-and-5 from the 13 instead of kicking the field goal.

“I was chasing points from the get-go in the second half,” Oyler said. “I was too aggressive. I put the kids in a bad situation by chasing points.”

The turnovers and those untimely penalties also stunted what could have been a better offensive output, as the Jaguars (3-6) are hoping for a little more consistency heading into the playoffs.

“We’ll have 10 players do a great job on a play and then one guy will miss a block. The offense can’t have breakdowns,” Oyler said. “That’s where the consistency comes from. … We’ve proven we can compete with anybody. We just have to find a way to win in crunch time.”

The Trojans have found a way to do that this season, and they’re hoping for more of the same come playoff time.

“One game at a time,” Haney said. “We have to take it week-by-week. All that matters is getting that ‘W’ in the win column.”