Most championship teams are a reflection of their head coach.
And if that's the case with the Blue Springs High School football team, the Wildcats might be in good shape the rest of the season.
Two costly mistakes led to two Park Hill touchdowns Friday night at the Park Hill District Stadium as the Trojans claimed a 28-25 victory over coach Kelly Donohoe's Wildcats in a battle of the metro's two highest ranked teams.
It was the second loss in a row for the 2-2 Wildcats, who fell 22-17 last Friday at home to Fayetteville, the two-time defending state championship team from Arkansas.
But the veteran Wildcats coach isn't looking for a panic button.
Following the game, a cool, calm and collected Donohoe told his players the mistakes were correctable as they head into next week's home game against Shawnee Mission West High School.
"We know what we're capable of," Donohoe said. "That was a tough game between two, very good teams. I loved what I saw from our guys tonight, especially in the second half. Our defense really stepped it up and were driving downfield to score right until the end of the game."
With 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had the ball first and 10 on the Trojans' 26 with no time outs.
They had started their final drive of the game from their own 27 and appeared on the way to at least giving Sam Knowlton the opportunity to tie the game when Devin Haney picked off Wildcats quarterback Chase Donohoe in the end zone with seven seconds remaining to give coach Josh Hood's Trojans a 4-0 and 2-0 Suburban Big Seven record.
"You had two teams who were fighting to stay undefeated in the conference and they got it done, and we fell a little bit short," said Donohoe, who remained upbeat and optimistic.
The Panthers took a quick 7-0 lead at 4:10 of the first period when quarterback Billy Maples scored on a 2-yard run and Davin Dorrell kicked the first of four extra points.
But two Panthers scores following Wildcats gaffes were game breakers.
Following a muffed punt, Maples hit freshman Jaylin Noel on a 41-yard bomb to make it 21-10 at 1:42 of the second period.
The lone Park Hill second-half touchdown came following a Wildcat fumble on their own 7-yard line.
Two plays later, Maples hit Ronnie Bell for a 15-yard touchdown (following a holding penalty). Bell made a sensational grab as he was parallel to the ground when he caught the ball. That score made it a 28-17 game.
But there was plenty of fight – and trickery – left in the Wildcats.
At 9:49 of the third period, Chase Donohoe threw a lateral pass to tight end Caleb Marquez, who threw a perfect 31-yard scoring strike to Tre' Wheaton for his second touchdown of the game.
Donohoe then scored on a two-point conversion run, to make it a three-point game.
"I never felt like we were out of it," said Marquez, who had seven receptions for 101 yards to go along with his touchdown pass. "We fought so hard all night. We just put that pass in this week and it worked in practice and worked tonight.
"We had some opportunities we didn't cash in on, but we're going to be fine. Coach Donohoe and our coaches are all positive and we know we can come back from this. We have lost to the top team from Arkansas and lost to a great Park Hill team. We're not going to make any excuses, but we're missing some key people, but we feel like the guys who come in can get the job done – so we'll be all right."
Running back Cade Musser, who was a standout in the Wildcats’ victories over Lee's Summit West and Lee's Summit, was standing on the sideline with his arm in a sling following a shoulder injury last week that could result in missing as many as four to six games, and defensive back Drake Foreman, who set up a touchdown against West with an interception, is out for the season with a torn ACL.
"We're hoping to get Cade back in four to six weeks," the coach said, "but it just breaks your heart to see a kid like Drake, with a 4.0 GPA, out for the rest of the season."
Jaylen Ivey, who underwent ACL surgery in December of last year, saw limited action Friday as Donohoe is going to bring him back slowly.
"We never really got our running game going tonight, but their defense had a lot to do with that," Donohoe said after the Wildcats carried the ball 36 times for 120 yards (3.3 yards per carry). "We're working Jaylen (who broke his ankle last year) and Aveion back slowly."
Chase Donohoe made some big plays to keep his team in the game, and finished the night 14 of 30 for 207 yards for one score – on an 11-yard shovel pass to Wheaton – and two interceptions.
Sam Knowlton had a 31-yard field goal for the Cats.
"We really wanted to win this game, and you could tell by the effort you saw tonight, especially in the second half, that there is no quit in this team," Coach Donohoe said. "We're not going to make any excuses, we're just going to get back to work, and work on cleaning some things up."
Wheaton finished with two touchdowns and four receptions for 102 yards. Bailey scored on a 3-yard run for the Wildcats third score.
Maples finished the game 11 of 19 for 116 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers added 116 yards on the ground.
Daniel Parker had a sack and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage for Blue Springs.