On this rare occasion for coach Kelly Donohoe, something overshadowed Blue Springs High School's 38-21 Suburban Big Six victory over visiting Liberty Friday night at Peve Stadium.
It was the brief moment where he traded his coaching hat for his father hat as he escorted his daughter Taylor, a homecoming queen candidate, in an elaborate halftime ceremony.
It didn't hurt that his Class 6 No. 1 state-rated Wildcats were leading 21-7 at halftime.
“A lot less stressful than two years ago when we were tied 14-14 with Fort Osage and Taylor was a candidate,” Donohoe said after Dalvin Warmack rushed for 185 yards and scored four touchdowns of 2, 2, 2 and 60 yards to help the Wildcats improve to 5-0 on the season.
“Tonight was all about Taylor. She is such a wonderful student and just a wonderful, wonderful person who gets involved in so many things at the school. I couldn't be any prouder of her than I am right now.”
Then, in the blink of an eye, Donohoe puts his coaching hat back on and dissects a game that featured brilliant play by his Wildcats, enough penalties to fill an entire season and sensational performances by Warmack, quarterback Ian Brown and wide receiver Darrius Shepherd.
“Dalvin rushes for 185 yards and four touchdowns and has 114 yards and two scores called back because of penalties that we simply can't afford to make,” Donohoe said, shaking his head in disgust.
“You hate to see a great kid like Dalvin lose those yards and those scores – he could have had a 300-yard, six-touchdown game against a darned good team – and he doesn't because of the penalties.
“And it's not so much about the yards and TDs he lost, it's that late in the season, in a close game when we need those yards and touchdowns, those penalties could end our season.”
When Warmack wasn't running over the Blue Jays, Brown was shredding their secondary with a 14-for-26, 238-yard night with most of those passing going to Shepherd, who caught 10 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
But what impressed his coach most about the first-year quarterback was his ability to keep his cool when penalty flags were flying (Blue Spring was penalized 12 times for 125 yards, and the Blue Jays eight times for 85 yards).
“It got a little chippy out there,” Brown said, grinning. “But we were able to keep our cool, keep our composure. Dalvin was Dalvin – and we hated to see him lose those two touchdowns. And Darrius lived up to his nickname, the X-Factor. He did it all tonight.”
Warmack, the reigning Examiner Player of the Year and Simone Award winner, limped off the field with a gash on left leg.
“I'm fine,” he said, grinning. “Can you write that a tiger clawed my leg? That sounds a lot more interesting than what happened – I just got a little cut during the game. But you know what they say, girls like guys with scars. Maybe I'll have one – who knows.”
The Wildcats win followed a thrilling 42-35 victory over Class 5 No. 1-ranked Lee's Summit West last week, and it was also homecoming at Blue Springs High School.
“But we couldn't let anything distract us,” the low-key Shepherd said. “We don't want to lose to anyone, so we came out extra focused tonight. I'm just disappointed we had all those penalties. We have to clean that up.”
For the second week in a row, an early defensive gem set the tone for the game. Kaleb Prewett intercepted an A.J. Cambric pass and returned it 53 yards to set up Warmack's first score, a 2-yard run.
“We want the defense to set the tone, like when Shep intercepted the pass for the touchdown last week against West,” Prewett said. “We had a lot of distractions this week with homecoming, and we didn't let that keep us from getting the job done tonight. Everyone played a role in the win.”
That included kicker Blane Howell, who did not miss a PAT and who kicked a 42-yard field goal, and special teams standout Nate Carlton, who had four tackles and recovered an onside kick.