If you ever wanted to get the best seat in a restaurant or avoid a line at a movie theater, tonight in Blue Springs might be your best shot.
A good part of the town – north and south – will likely be at Peve Stadium at Blue Springs High School for a highly anticipated 7 p.m. matchup between the last two Class 6 state champions.
No. 10-ranked Blue Springs South, a team that won the crown two years ago, takes a 6-4 record to Peve Stadium, where it will meet the 10-0 top-ranked reigning Class 6 state champion Wildcats.
“It's going to be a slobber-knocker,” said former Blue Springs coach and activities director Tim Crone, who will broadcast the Class 6 District 4 semifinal alongside Dale Carter on KCWJ 1030 AM. “It's the game everyone out our way was hoping for – I can't wait.”
Neither can the two teams who have met 20 times, with the Wildcats holding a slim 11-9 lead after a 35-0 thrashing of the Jaguars in the regular season.
“It's South week – that pretty much sums it all up,” Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said. “Throw that (35-0) score out the window. They are so much better now.
“They have their quarterback (Chris Swingle) back (from injury) and they're playing some good ball. I can guarantee you it's not going to be a 35-0 game. I'll be happy if we get out with a 7-6 win.”
The winner will advance to next week's district title game against Lee’s Summit or Liberty. The loser's season comes to an end.
“We don't want this season to end,” Blue Springs defensive end Elijah Lee said. “No one wants their season to end until they get to state. I know a lot of people thought we might come out flat against Lee's Summit North last Friday because we might be thinking about playing South.
“We don't think ahead. We take it one game at a time. That's how we won state last year, and that's how we hope to win state this year.”
Defense paved the way for each team to reach tonight's clash as Lee, Gunnar Strickland and Zach Robinson all had interception returns for touchdowns in a 42-0 victory over Lee's Summit North.
“In 37 years of coaching, I've never seen anything like it,” Wildcats defensive coordinator Tim Dade said. “And the most unusual thing about it is that none of the touchdowns were by defensive backs – they were by a defensive end and two linebackers. This defense continues to get better and better each week.”
South's defense allowed 233 passing yards to Rockhurst’s T.J. Green and Ahmad Tyler, but the Jaguars came up with four sacks and allowed just 64 yards on the ground in an 11-8 road victory.
“We're playing our best defense now,” said linebacker Josh Watson, who had a sack and several tackles against Rockhurst. “We have so much faith in each other, and we're playing with a lot of confidence. We know that everyone knows his role, so we just have to go out and take care of our individual responsibilities.
“Plus, we have Chris back, and that's huge.”
He was referring to Swingle, who suffered a broken bone and ligament damage in his foot in the second game of the season.
“We're all excited about this game,” Swingle said. “That was a big win at Rockhurst last week. Our line and receivers are playing great right now, and I have so much faith in them and Emery (Ester) at running back.”
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC