Blue Springs South (2-6) got back to its roots Friday night, relying on a dominant ground game and an opportunistic defense to pull away from Park Hill South (2-6) in the second half and secure a 33-3 victory.
“It feels amazing,” Blue Springs South junior running back Nahshon Rick said. “We know we have things to work on and we’ve been working on that stuff really hard. For it to all come together finally and for us to all work together as a team. … It just feels good to come out and get the win finally that we know we deserved.”
After a quick three-and-out by the defense that set the Jaguars up in Panther territory, it was the offense that set an early tone running on six of seven plays on the drive, capped by a 2-yard plunge by Rick.
“That was a big emphasis, we wanted to get the running game going,” Jaguars coach Jon Oyler said. “The offensive line has done a good job for us all year, so it was good to see some of the rewards tonight.”
The defense picked up right where it left off by forcing a Panther fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive and junior kicker Shane Harper’s 24-yard field goal stretched the lead to 10-0. The Jaguars recovered a fumble on the kickoff, but Park Hill safety Hunter Johnston got the ball back for his side on the next play, intercepting junior quarterback Max Conrad at his own 37.
Back-to-back three-and-outs by the Panthers led to consecutive field goals by Harper, from 39 and 20 yards, respectively, to put the Jaguars up 16-0.
Blue Springs South failed to capitalize on a third first-half Panther fumble, which led to a seven-play drive for Park Hill South, highlighted by a 42-yard run by Ta’Von Tusa, resulting in a 22-yard field goal by Michael Verhoeven as time expired in the first half.
The Panthers tried an onside kick out of the locker room, but it skirted out of bounds, setting the Jaguars up with another short field – seven of their 10 drives began in Park Hill South territory – and a long run from senior quarterback Adam Connors, who replaced an injured Conrad, led to Rick’s second score of the night, a 10-yard burst off the left side.
“It put us up three scores, which is a spot we haven’t been too many times this year,” Oyler said with a laugh. “It was almost like a breath of fresh air. That was huge.”
After forcing a punt on the next drive, the Jaguars ended the final three Panther drives of the game via interception – one by senior linebacker Skyler Meyers and two by junior cornerback Trey Vaval. Sandwiched between the interceptions were a 30-yard field goal by Harper and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Connors to sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Tauai.
“Our kids have been grinding all year and we keep talking about improving every single week. I’m hoping this gets us rolling in the right direction,” Oyler said. “We’ve got another big opponent; there aren’t any easy weeks in our league. Hopefully we’ll have another good week of practice and get a little bit better every day.”
The Jaguars wrap up the regular season next week at Lee’s Summit North (6-2), which defeated Raymore-Peculiar 42-21 Friday night, in a Suburban Big Six matchup. The two teams have split the last two meetings, with the Broncos winning last season’s contest 29-16.