Blue Springs High School football coach Kelly Donohoe liked what he saw on the field at Friday night’s jamboree at Peve Stadium – even when his defense was getting a bit roughed up by an upstart Liberty North squad.
North scored three touchdowns – on runs of 40 and 20 yards and a 40-yard touchdown pass. But after those scoring strikes, the Wildcats buckled down and Raytown South and Lee’s Summit West didn’t come close to the end zone.
That’s what Donohoe hoped to see from a team that has won back-to-back Class 6 state championships.
“That’s good, that shows our guys what they need to work on,” Donohoe said, when asked about his team's defense. “I wanted to see how the guys would respond after that, and they didn’t give up another big play.
“That's going to help us in the long run.”
So is a five-touchdown night by quarterback Ian Brown, who ran the offense during last year's second-consecutive state championship run.
“I told you, I told anyone who would listen, we’re going to be fine at wide receiver,” Donohoe said after newcomers Terrance Sanders (3) and Tamarick Quinney (1) combined for four scores and running back Cobi Bissell, who was a backup last season to two-time Simone Award winner Dalvin Warmack, hauled in the fifth.
“Ian is so good, so smart. We weren’t going to show much tonight – pretty much run a vanilla offense – but he sure found an open receiver when the kids were open. He did a great, great job tonight.”
Sanders and Quinney are first-year starters and could be the heirs to former all-state performers Kaleb Prewett and Darrius Shepherd.
“To be mentioned alongside Darrius and Kaleb is an honor,” said Quinney, who was third in the 100 meters last year and helped the Wildcats win a state championship in track and field.
“We won state championships last year in football and track, and we’re all working to get another state championship this year in football. I think we have the talent to do it, and ... I think we’re going to have some nice receivers – and Ian, he can really throw that ball.”
When asked if the passing game was where he wants it to be, Brown grinned and shook his head.
“No, no a long way from where we want to be and need to be if we want to win that third state championship,” Brown said. “We were tested tonight, and our receivers passed the test. We’re going to be fine at receiver, and Cobi is going to have a great season, too.
“But we have a lot of work to do. We watch film tomorrow morning, meet with coach at his house on Sunday and get back to work on Monday to get ready for Staley next Friday (at 7 p.m. at Peve Stadium).”
Two players who were eagerly awaiting Friday’s jamboree were twin defensive linemen Khalil and Carlos Davis. They spent more time in the Raytown South backfield than the Cardinals' halfback and fullback.
“Nice to hit someone in a different uniform,” Khalil said. “We didn’t like giving up those early touchdowns, but all that will do is make us work harder. The offense looked great tonight, and we want the offense and defense to look great next week against Staley.”
Carlos added, “We weren’t going to let anyone score after those Liberty North touchdowns. We’re better – much better – than we showed tonight. That’s why you have the jamboree, to see what areas you need to work on.”
One area that appears secure is running back, where Bissell put some slick moves on defenders.
“I want to be a big part of this offense,” Bissell said. “With Ian at quarterback and our line, I think we can all have great seasons.”
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: For the first time in 15 years as the head coach at Blue Springs High School, Donohoe is going to miss Saturday morning’s film session.
But he has a good excuse, he and his family are taking daughter Taylor to the University of Arkansas, where she will be a freshman.
“I told the guys it’s my first time, and I hate to miss film, but this is so important to Taylor and our family,” Donohoe said. “She visited Arkansas and fell in love with it, and it’s only 3 1/2 hours from our house.”