Looking back on their regular season loss to Park Hill, the Blue Springs Wildcats were more worried about fixing their mistakes than avenging it.
In Saturday’s rematch in a Class 6 state semifinal, the “beasts” of the defense took care of that in a 34-14 rout of the Trojans.
“We weren’t out for revenge today, we just wanted redemption,” said star Blue Springs senior defensive and offensive lineman Daniel Parker. “There was a lot of talk from up north this week on social media. We didn’t need to talk. We just came out and played Blue Springs football.”
With a dominating performance Saturday at Peve Stadium, the Wildcats punched their ticket to the 7 p.m. Saturday Class 6 Show-Me Bowl state championship game against Christian Brothers College High School of St. Louis at Missouri State University’s Plaster Stadium in Springfield.
When the two area powers met during the regular season, the Trojans turned two Blue Springs turnovers into touchdowns and claimed a 28-25 victory and bragging rights.
That’s when the “beasts” took over.
“Caleb is a beast, and we unleashed him today,” Parker, co-Suburban Big Seven defensive player of the year, said, referring to fellow senior Caleb Marquez, who had a sack, a tackle for loss and – for good measure – scored three touchdowns on offense. “Khristian (Boyd) is a beast – he took care of two of their (offensive linemen) every snap. He dominated!”
Boyd, a senior nose tackle, finished with six tackles, a sack and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Parker made it a trio of “beasts” with four sacks and another two tackles for loss.
“We’re all beasts!” he said before joining some teammates for a post-game photo, as this was the last game this group of seniors will play at Peve Stadium.
So, how dominating was the Wildcats’ defense?
The Trojans were held to less than 100 yards rushing, Big Seven Offensive Player of the Year Billy Maples was just 7 of 24 passing for 143 yards and two scores (the second came against the Wildcats’ reserves) and he was picked off by safety Azaiah Bello.
“We had a game plan to shut down all phases of their offense, and we were able to do it,” said Bello, who added six tackles to his interception. “We wanted to shut down the passing game, cover their receivers and give our guys on the front line time to get to the quarterback and our front line was amazing.”
Using just three down linemen, the Wildcats trio totaled 11 tackles and seven sacks. They had nine sacks overall, including one each from Niko Manning and Stephen Chism.
“If Daniel says we’re beasts, I guess we’re beasts,” quipped Marquez, who rarely practices with the defense as he plays H-back, fullback and tight end. “We came to play today. We were ready. They won up at their place and there was no way we were going to let them win at our place.
“The defense, the offense, the special teams – we got it done today.”
The game was tied at 6-all after one quarter as Marquez scored on a 3-yard run and Maples hit Payton Stanfield for a 40-yard touchdown (both extra points were missed).
The Wildcats began their dominant play in the second period as Marquez bulled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run, Cade Musser scored on a 7-yard carry and quarterback Chase Donohoe eluded two would-be tacklers and found Tre’ Wheaton for a 47-yard touchdown pass for a commanding 26-7 halftime advantage.
Marquez scored his third touchdown in the fourth quarter on another 3-yard run, and, after a meaningless late score by Park Hill, the celebration began as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“Our defense set the tone today,” Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said after his team advanced to its second consecutive state championship appearance (after losing 31-14 last year to Kirkwood). “I can’t say enough good things about our defense and our offense did a nice job, too. It was just a good, complete game against a very good team – a team that beat us earlier this season.”
Nearly lost in all the defensive brilliance was a breakout performance by running back Aveion Bailey, who carried the ball 19 times for 150 yards – and he lost an 80-yard touchdown run on a holding penalty.
“All I care about is the win,” Bailey said, sporting a huge smile after the game. “We had a job to do, and we did it. The defense was amazing, Chase did a great job running the offense and we’re going to state. We’re going to state!”
Chase Donohoe completed 8 of 13 passes for 147 yards and the one touchdown.
“It was a good day, a real good day,” said Chase Donohoe, who broke his foot late last season and did not get to play in the state title game loss. “I can’t wait to get to state. We needed to take care of business today, and we did – now we can concentrate on our biggest goal, and that’s getting back to state and winning it.”