It’s an hour or so before kickoff of a recent Blue Springs High School football game and two solitary figures stand near the 50-yard line.
The sun is slowing sinking to the west of Peve Stadium and Wildcats coach Kelly Donohoe and his son Chase, the Blue Springs senior quarterback, are bathed in the shadows that will soon cover the field.
They aren’t discussing X’s and O’s or coming up with new ways to surgically slice through the secondary of that night’s opponent.
No, father and son are simply sharing a moment that will far to soon be nothing more than a memory.
“I think those are the moments I’ll remember and miss the most,” said Chase, who led the Wildcats to a 12-3 season and appearance in the Class 6 state championship game for the second year in a row. “It all started my junior year when my dad and I would just walk out to the middle of the field, just by ourselves, and talk about how special it’s been.
“I know he’s dreamed of coaching me since I was a ball boy on the sidelines and I’ve dreamed of playing for him at Blue Springs since I was old enough to pick up a football. It was just so special, just the two of us, to be out there on the field before a game.
“Not many fathers and sons get to share something like that, and we’ve been lucky to share a lot of special moments – on and off the football field.”
Kelly Donohoe has known nothing but success in his 18 years at Blue Springs High School. He has led his teams to seven state championship games and come home with four titles.
The fairy tale ending to this season, in which Chase led one of the most explosive offenses in the metro area, didn’t happen last Saturday in Springfield, where No. 1-ranked Christian Brothers College High School of St. Louis topped the Wildcats 34-14 in the Class 6 title game.
“It’s hard to lay in bed at night and think about it all being over,” Kelly Donohoe said when asked about the past two seasons in which Chase has played quarterback. “And that’s selfish on my part. I have a great son and I was blessed to coach him at Blue Springs High School.
“I have a great daughter (Taylor) and awesome wife (Jennifer) and we’re all healthy. We didn’t get that fairy tale ending, but we have so much to be thankful for. But as a dad, coaching your son for the last time is tough. I know it’s a lot tougher on me than it is on Chase because sharing football with him all these years has been pretty amazing.”
That stinging state loss is not going to wipe away a lifetime of memories for a father and son who shared so much success on the field, and a special bond away from the gridiron.
“I was an all-state ball boy,” joked Chase, referring to a nickname the older Wildcat players gave him when he was an elementary school student. “I was a coach’s kid, and I knew a lot about the game, so I got to be a ball boy even before I was old enough to be on the sidelines.
“I was there for most of the big games and have great memories of the players my dad coached. We always talked about how special it would be to win a state championship together, but it didn’t happen this year or last year – and I’m OK with that.
“I mean, I’m disappointed, but I know my dad couldn’t have worked any harder and my teammates and I worked hard, it just didn’t happen. Everyone talked about a fairy tale ending, but the last 10 years or so have been like a fairy tale for me, getting to spend so much time with my dad.”
Chase felt little self-imposed pressure heading into his junior season, when he started at quarterback for the first time.
“My friends would say, ‘I can’t imagine how much pressure you’re feeling,’” Chase said, “but I didn’t really feel all that much pressure. That’s just the way I am. I mean, my whole life people had talked about me being a quarterback for my dad, but I just saw it as playing football for my dad and all my friends and having a great time.
“There was pressure when we started this season 2-2 and I threw interceptions in the two losses to Fayetteville and Park Hill. But we got a lot better and were playing great football going into the state championship game.
“Then, we lost at state and CBC was a lot better than we were Saturday. But that’s not going to take away any of the memories I have of big wins – like the ones over Rockhurst or Blue Springs South or coming back this year and beating Park Hill (after we lost to them at their place) in the regular season.
“I had more fun than most kids can even dream about, and I had fun with my dad and best friends.”
Sometimes, fairy tales don’t have the ending everyone dreamed about, but they can still be full of magic and – if you’re Chase Donohoe – fun.