Blue Valley takes care of Olathe North

Linda Olson/Special to PrepsKC

By Ryan Wallace PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: November 11, 2017 - 1:15 AM

After the season’s first week, an embarrassing 55-10 loss at Bishop Miege, few saw Blue Valley advancing to the 6A semifinals- few outside the Tigers locker room that is. Come next Friday, November 17, not only will Allen Terrell’s squad play for a spot in their third-straight championship contest, they’ll host the right to advance after throttling Olathe North 48-21.

“This weather is perfect,” joked Terrell afterwards, reminiscent of old colleague and friend Eric Driskell. “Our kids have been challenged this whole season and they respond well to challenges.”

In what’s truly been a remarkably inspiring tale, Blue Valley’s road through 2017 has been littered with highs and lows. Yet, in fitting fashion the Tigers have seemingly saved their best for last, the way Driskell would’ve wanted it.

“To go through, I think, as much adversity as any team and get here,” began senior receiver Benjamin Dezube. “It’s amazing.”

Playing through the frigid temperatures against an athletic Eagles program on Friday, it was Blue Valley who came out hotter than the heaters that lined their sidelines. On the game’s opening kick, the now 6-3 Tigers recovered a fumble on the Eagles return, punching in a touchdown from senior quarterback Luke Bernard to Eric Olson. After forcing the first of three-straight Olathe North punts, the Tigers would trek from their own 15-yard line to the Eagles 15-yard line on a 14-play dirve that finished with Blue Valley going up 10-0 on a Jackson Likens field goal.

“It’s really good to start off with momentum,” added Dezube, agreeing with the fact that Blue Valley’s start propelled its relentless attitude in the quarterfinal. “I think everything’s easier when you start out on top and hold it rather than working from behind.”

Much as they have all season, the Sunflower League opponent would not go away that easily. A week after single handedly running all over Lawrence, Daymonn Sanchez took control on back to back possessions, scoring on carries of 48 and 80-yards respectively to briefly give the visiting fans a lead to celebrate.

“We did okay for the most part but, you know, they’re a good team,” Eagles head coach Chris McCartney said afterwards. “They’re well coached and made some adjustments and… that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Those adjustments were apparent out of a 17-14 halftime break. Twice, junior running back Alex Totta rumbled for big gains on Blue Valley’s opening possession, finishing with an easy 13-yard score to expand the lead to ten points. But the Tigers weren’t done.

Three more Olathe North punts later, stifled at the line of scrimmage by a swarming Rick McNerlin-led defense, Blue Valley was in full control. From another Olson score of 38-yards to backup quarterback Walker Kinney’s 60-yard sideline strike to junior receiver Cameron Green, Terrell’s black and gold bunch roared to a 38-14 advantage and never looked back.

“Just a tendency we’d gotten on them all week was that they were going to be in an odd front,” said the Tigers head coach. “Our kids and our offensive coaches made the adjustment at halftime. It took our kids a few snaps to adjust, but yeah, it really worked at the beginning of the third quarter.”

For McCartney, watching his group fall flat in the second half was disappointing after clicking on all cylinders just seven days ago. Still, there’s a quiet sense of confidence on the losing sideline as the Eagles know full well the talent they’ll return next fall.

“I just talked to our kids about re-establishing the order,” finished an upbeat McCartney. “You know, we had a bad season last year and the seniors this year took it to heart and worked their tails off. Along with the younger guys, we put together a pretty good season and hopefully we can build on that.”

In Blue Valley’s case, the storybook season continues. If Friday night’s win wasn’t the pinnacle for the season, one could argue for September’s come from behind victory at Blue Valley North as the other major highlight. Next week, that very same Mustangs team rolls down 159th Street looking for revenge, but this Blue Valley roster is more than willing to defend their turf. After all, what’s one more challenge?

“It’s going to be fun,” said a proud Dezube. “Us and (Blue Valley) North, we’ve gone toe to toe. They’re a great team and it’ll be a lot of fun.”

“I’m sure they’ll be ready,” said Terrell of next week’s foe. “It’s just an honor to play on this field one more time.”