Blue Springs football coach Kelly Donohoe was happy to have almost everyone back in the fold Friday.
The return of running back Cade Musser and middle linebacker Hayden Holloway (see related story on A1) sparked the Wildcats to a dominant 49-21 Class 6 District 3 semifinal victory over the visiting Fort Zumwalt West Jaguars Friday night at Peve Stadium.
"The return of those big studs really had an impact on the game," said Donohoe, whose 9-2 team will play crosstown rival Blue Springs South (a 16-13 winner over top-seeded Columbia Rock Bridge) in the district championship next Friday at home. "Cade had such a big impact on our offense and it was great to get Hayden back at linebacker.
"Tre' (Wheaton) had the big return on special teams and we had some big defensive stands against an explosive team. We're far from playing our best game, but we're peaking at the right time and I'm proud of them for getting this win."
Wheaton had a monster night with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and an 11-yard pass reception from quarterback Chase Donohoe for a score.
"We're not even close to playing our best game, but we're playing better each week," Wheaton said in the noisy Blue Springs locker room. “Tonight, having Cade back was big, and I thought the offense and defense played off each other. The defense would make a big play and we'd want to put the ball in the end zone to reward them."
Musser, who has missed much of the season with shoulder and ankle injuries, played a slot back position and opened the game with a 15-yard touchdown run.
"It's so great to be back," said Musser, who suffered his second major injury of the season when the Wildcats played Blue Springs South in the regular season. "Now we play South, and hopefully I'll be healthy the entire game. It was so great to be back tonight and be part of this win. I'm out there with my brothers and it just feels so good."
Musser finished the night with 30 yards rushing on 15 carries and two receptions for 33 yards.
"Cade just adds another dimension to our offense," Kelly Donohoe added. "We're getting to where we want to be. And he is a big part of the offense, a very big part."
So are fullback/tight end Caleb Marquez, who carried a defender 11 yards on his back on a crowd-pleasing 13-yard touchdown run late in the game, and Aveion Bailey, who had 17 carries for 70 yards.
"This offense has so many guys who can make big plays," said defensive/defensive lineman Daniel Parker, who had three sacks and five tackles behind the line of scrimmage. "They get us excited on defense. We want to make big plays, too, so they can get the ball and go out and score some more points."
Another big-play Wildcat was defensive back Azaiah Bello, who had two interceptions.
"This was a team win," Bello said. "The offense scored 49 points, we held a really good team to 21 points (with the last score coming against Wildcat reserves) and Tre' had the touchdown on special teams. We keep trying to play a complete game and we came close tonight."
Chase Donohoe finished the game completing 6 of 11 passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a 5-yard score.