By Mike Genet
Having a host a college-caliber playmakers around tends to make life easier for a new starting quarterback.
As Blue Springs’ Ian Brown found out Friday, it’s not too bad for the personal stat sheet, either.
Brown, the junior transfer from Rockhurst High School, threw five of his six touchdown passes in the first half, including a Hail Mary to end the first half, as the defending Class 6 state champions handled host Park Hill South 49-14 in a suburban cross-conference battle at Park Hill District Stadium.
Four of Brown’s TDs went to college prospect Darrius Shepherd who finished with 228 yards on eight catches, while Kansas State running back recruit Dalvin Warmack took a swing pass 46 yards for another score.
And most improbably, K-State defensive back recruit Kaleb Prewett snared a 44-yard rainbow prayer in the final seconds of the first half, falling the last couple yards into the end zone to give Blue Springs (2-0) a 35-14 halftime lead.
The final tally for Brown: 11-of-19 passing for 324 yards.
“It’s made the transition a lot easier than it could’ve been,” he said of having the high-caliber talent around him. “I’ve just got to get the ball to them and let them do their thing.
“They played us a certain way to where the passing game opened up, and we took advantage of it.”
The Wildcats’ first score certainly was a case of letting Shepherd do his thing.
After the opening kickoff buried the Wildcats at the 5, Park Hill South (0-2) threw Warmack for a loss on first down. Brown rolled right on second down and tossed to Shepherd, who wheeled away from sideline, sliced through the defense toward the left side and was gone for a 98-yard touchdown.
Blane Howell added the first of his seven PAT kicks less than a minute into the game.
The Panthers came back to tie things on Shafer Shuetz’s 36-yard scoring heave to Nick Griffith, capping a nine-play drive. But three minutes later Brown lofted a 31-yard TD to Shepherd, who leaped above the cornerback to snare the ball and tip-toed the last couple yards toward the pylon.
On the Wildcats next possession, the pair hooked up again for a 44-yarder over the middle, making it 21-7 with 33 seconds left in the first quarter. Brown had helped himself the play before with a 29-yard scramble up the sideline.
A blocking penalty wiped out what would’ve been a 53-yard interception return for a TD by Prewett in the second quarter, but Warmack took a short pass for a 46-yard score on the Wildcats’ next possession.
“Shep and Ian Brown, they did a lot of good things,” Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said. “We’ve got playmakers that can throw it and catch it.
“I’m a little frustrated we gave up some plays, but they’re a good team. They bottled up Dalvin.”
Indeed, the Panthers’ defense, paced by linebacker Austin Miller, zeroed in on Warmack, limiting the reigning Simone Award winner to just 14 yards on eight first-half carries.
Park Hill South appeared to gain some halftime momentum when Shuetz and Griffith connected again for a 25-yard score, capping an 11-play drive with 28 seconds left in the half to make it 28-14.
But after an up-man kick return and a first-down completion, Brown’s Hail Mary pass found landed in Prewett’s hands amongst the crowd of players.
“We were trying not to let them run it – make them try something different – but they can do other things well, too,” said Panthers coach Mark Simcox, a former Blue Springs assistant and William Chrisman head coach. “We were bound and determined not to let (Warmack) run around on us.
“The one at the end just kills you,” he said of Prewett’s catch. “At least we would’ve felt different coming out of halftime.”
Warmack tacked on a 51-yard touchdown run in the third quarter immediately after teammate Cobi Bissell intercepted a Carson Reid pass. Brown’s final connection with Shepherd, a 29-yarder over the middle, came with 54 seconds left in the third and made for a running-clock fourth quarter.
Warmack finished with 90 yards on 13 carries. Elijah Lee (another K-State recruit) had two of the Wildcats’ four sacks.
“We responded well,” Donohoe said. “We’ve got kids that really are big playmakers, and the goal for us is to find ways to get the ball to them.”
Shuetz finished 12-of-25 passing for 160 yards for Park Hill South. The Wildcats limited Panther backs Ronnie Bertelsmeyer and Derrick Cook to 63 yards rushing.
BLUE SPRINGS 21 14 14 0 – 49
PARK HILL SOUTH 7 7 0 0 – 14
BS – Darrius Shepherd 98 pass from Ian Brown (Blane Howell kick), 11:09.
PHS – Nick Griffith 36 pass from Shaefer Shuetz (Jacob Sneden kick), 7:55.
BS – Shepherd 31 pass from Brown (Howell kick), 4:52.
BS – Shepherd 44 pass from Brown (Howell kick), :33.
BS – Dalvin Warmack 46 pass from Brown (Howell kick), 5:12.
PHS – Griffith 25 pass from Shuetz (Sneden kick), :28.
BS – Kaleb Prewett 44 pass from Brown (Howell kick), :00.
BS – Warmack 51 run (Howell kick), 4:21.
BS – Shepherd 29 pass from Brown (Howell kick), :54
13 First downs 15
26-158 Att.-Yds. Rushing 34-87
324 Yards Passing 160
19 Passes Attempted 30
11 Passes Completed 12
0 Passes Intercepted 2
3-39.3 Punts-Average 5-34.0
0-0 Fumbles-Lost 1-1
5-50 Penalties-Yards 1-5