For Rockhurst winning ugly is very pretty
By Andrew DeWitt Special to PrepsKC
ST. LOUIS —Rockhurst coach Tony Severino game planned to make the Class 6 championship game ugly.
Rockhurst beat two-time defending champions Hazelwood Central 10-7 in ugly fashion to win the 2010 Class 6 state championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
“I knew if we could keep it ugly and if we kept it under 17, we’d have a chance to win,” Severino said.
The win gives the Hawklets (14-0) nine state titles to move them into a tie with Webb City for second for most state titles won.Valle Catholic won its 10th title this weekend to tie Jefferson City for the most. The Western side of the state won five of the six titles awarded this weekend at the Dome.
The win also clinched a clean sweep for Kansas City with Richmond, Lee’s Summit West and Rockhurst all winning their state championship games. St. Louis teams finished the weekend 0-5.
Rockhurst’s defense stood tall to complete its perfect season protecting a 10-7 lead after Hazelwood Central (13-1) forced the Hawklets to punt with just under three minutes to go and gave Hazelwood Central the ball at Rockhurst’s 46 yard line.
After quickly picking up a first down on two rushing plays, the Rockhurst secondary, which gave up only one big pass play all night, forced incompletions on third and fourth down to clinch the title.
“This means so much to us,” said safety Mark Boushka, who had an interception. “The whole week leading up to this we prepared well.It’s unbelievable.”
Rockhurst’s talented defense only gave up six first downs all night, three of which came in the fourth quarter with Central scrambling to comeback. Hazelwood Central finished 1-for-11 on third downs.
Rockhurst overcame a frustrating first half to win.
The Hawklets offense twice turned the ball over inside the red zone with Jordan Walker coughing up the ball at the Hawks 8 yard line in the second quarter and the first half ended when Rockhurst had 10 plays inside the 20 yard line but failed to score when quarterback Frank Arbanas bumbled the snap with one second left.
“It was frustrating not scoring in the first half but I knew we’d win the game going into the locker room,” Severino said.
Severino always enforces with his team how important the first drive of the second half is whether on offense or defense and Rockhurst took that to heart on Saturday night covering 73 yards in 12 plays taking up nearly five minutes of clock.
Arbanas found tight end Nick Tyson open in the end zone for the tying touchdown.
“I had to keep convincing the kids that we’re playing football not running a track meet,” Severino said.
On that drive, tight end Dan Tarkpo injured his left knee and didn’t play almost the entire second half and spent it watching it on the big screen from the trainer’s table.
Arbanas hit John Hannifan for a 45 yard gain two drives later to set up the game winning 21 yard field goal from sophomore kicker Griffin Binns.
“I told the team we were going to have to win a game on a field goal one of these days,” Severino said.
It was an ugly game with the teams combining to punt 10 times but that’s exactly what Rockhurst wanted.
Senior Noah Pearl grinded out 83 yards on the ground on 26 carries with most of his yards being gained after Hazelwood Central’s talented linebacker duo of Cortland Dunlap and AJ Chappell. But that’s okay for Pearl considering Rock won its first state title since 2007.
“Those linebackers you cant really contain them,” Pearl said. “All night I tried to get what I could. I was limited to what I could get. Every time I got a nice clean hole the linebackers kept blowing it up.”
The Hawklets entered 2010 with their eyes on an undefeated season and a state championship. It took an ugly game plan to get it done but Mission Accomplished.
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