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Photo Credit: Robert Schraeder/Special to PrepsKC


Every year Tom Radke says he likes his team, and 2017 is no different – this team might be his best one yet.

St. James Academy led from start to finish in its 38-26 victory against Blue Valley Southwest on Friday night.

“I always like the kids, but I really like this football team as football players,” Radke said. “They get after it, they hit hard, and they fly around the football.”

It starts with quarterback Luke Heller. Radke said he’s got “it.”

“He’s got that savvy where if things break down he can make a play for us,” Radke said. “He’s calling plays. ‘Can we check out of this coach? Can we do this?’ He’s thinking all the time.”

Heller connected with William Sharpton on an 85-yard catch and run to put St. James up 14-0 midway through the first quarter.

It was that lead Blue Valley Southwest coach Anthony Orrick said his team couldn’t spot St. James.

After punting it away on the first series, which saw quick passes from quarterback Will Eldridge, the second series saw Eldridge take a shot down field, but it was under thrown and picked off by Stratton Smeltzer.

“We had (the deep passes), but Will was a little off tonight,” Orrick said. “Missed on a few things that were wide open and we dropped a few. It wasn’t our night.”

The Timberwolves battled back to make it a 31-26 St. James lead with 11 minutes left in the game after Eldridge hit Cameron Townsend for a 10-yard touchdown, but BV Southwest couldn’t convert on the two-point conversion.

On the ensuing Thunder drive Jack Petz ran home his third touchdown. He had scores on runs of 54 and 15 yards, and a reception of six yards.

The Timberwolves had a few more chances to make a comeback, but Eldridge’s third interception followed by a fumble on the next drive allowed St. James to go into victory formation.

“We had a little chat at halftime,” Radke said. “We didn’t play very good in the first half, we let too many things underneath happen – missed some tackles. Second half the boys played a lot better. It was fun to watch in the second half.”