It’s Cat Clash II tonight at Peve Stadium, where the host Blue Springs Wildcats meet crosstown rival Blue Springs South in a Class 6 District 2 semifinal.
In the first meeting this season, the Wildcats stopped the Jaguars 38-14, but coaches and players from both teams know that when two rivals hook up – especially in the postseason – anything can happen.
“This team has a lot of resiliency and has been focused on getting better each week,” said South coach Jon Oyler, whose No. 7-seeded Jaguars defeated No. 2 Troy Buchanan 35-14 in the Class 6 District 2 opener.
“Understanding each person’s role on the team and how they can contribute to the success of the team has been huge over the last few weeks.”
In that win over the then 7-2 Trojans, Nahshon Rick ran for two touchdowns and Max Conard passed for two scores and ran for a touchdown.
“We’re so much better every time we play, especially lately,” Rick said. “I’m just proud of my teammates and what we have accomplished, and it’s always special to play your rival – especially for a second time in a season.”
No. 3 Blue Springs blanked No. 4 Jefferson City 36-0 in another team oriented victory, much like the one Oyler’s Jaguars enjoyed against Troy Buchanan.
Patso Tapusoa grabbed a 10-yard touchdown pass from Koby Mansfield. Lineman Conrad Rowley scored from the 5, Mansfield scored from the 1, Dominick Harkness scored from the 1 and Quentin Fontenot capped a nine-carry, 119-yard night with a 28-yard touchdown run.
“The kids played well against Jefferson City,” Wildcats coach Kelly Donohoe said, “and we’re going to need to play even better against South.
“Jon does such a great job with his kids and they’ve improved each week. We’re going to need to bring our A game to beat them. Our kids know that – and we’re going to make sure they know it at every day of practice this week.”
Mansfield, the senior quarterback who enjoyed success in the air and on the ground last week, backed his coach’s comments.
“It was such a long time ago that we played South, we know they’re a much better team, and that we are going to need to play our A game Friday night,” Mansfield said. “They’re our biggest rival. We respect them, we have friends on that team, but when the game starts, you want to do everything you can to win, and that’s what we’re going to do. It should be a great game.”
Tristan Roper, the highly recruited South offensive tackle, is excited to face the Wildcats again.
“We can’t wait,” Roper said. “They’re our biggest rival, and we’re playing really good football right now. We are much more effective on our third downs and you can see our confidence growing each week.
“We got a big win last week against Troy Buchanan and hope to get another Friday against Blue Springs.”
Defensive standout Anthony Orlando believes his team is playing its best football of the season.
“We’re playing well now,” the senior linebacker said. “The win over Troy Buchanan was big because they were a No. 2 seed, but like so many people around here knew, our schedule was much more difficult. We’ve played some very good teams, and right now, we’re playing our best football.
“We’re all excited about playing our rival Friday night.”
Oyler said there are three keys against the Wildcats: “Being physical, winning first down and winning the turnover battle.”
Added Donohoe: “We need to play like we’ve practiced this week. We’ve had some very good practices. We need to take care of the ball and get some long, sustained drives against South.”
Blue Springs leads the overall series 17-10 and has won four in a row and 10 of the last 11. South's only win since 2009 was 27-24 in 2015. Blue Springs won playoff games against South in 2013 and 2017.