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Examiner
  • Wildcats head to St. Louis with one goal: winning

  • Elijah Lee can’t believe his good fortune.

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  • Elijah Lee can’t believe his good fortune.
    “At this time last year, I was up in St. Joseph and our season had been over for a couple of weeks,” said Lee, who transferred to Blue Springs from St. Joseph Central High School to anchor a Wildcat defensive line that coach Kelly Donohoe ranks among the best in school history.
    “It’s all still unbelievable to me that this Saturday I’m going to play in a state championship game. You never even thought about something like that at my old school, and now, we’re a win away from being state champs.”
    Lee brought a physical presence to the line as he has 64 tackles, 32 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a team-high 17 sacks.
    While Donohoe’s high octane offense gets most of the attention, thanks to 2,000-yard running back Dalvin Warmack, it’s the defense that could dominate play at 5:30 p.m. Saturday when the 12-1 Wildcats meet 12-1 Francis Howell at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
    “Francis Howell has a great defense,” Donohoe said before an early-morning Wednesday practice session, “so points could be at a premium in the game Saturday.
    “We’re not going to make any drastic changes offensively, but we’ll change some things up because you know they’ve seen film of all of our games and we don’t want them to lock and load on any one area.”
    Warmack, a junior who has rushed for 2,098 yards and 38 touchdowns (he has 43 overall touchdowns), knows what it’s going to take to win a championship.
    “We have to take care of all the details, the little things,” Warmack said. “Rockhurst thought they could beat us by stopping me, and they found out that wasn’t the case. We have so many offensive weapons and a great defense. If we take care of the little things, it could be a fun bus ride back to Blue Springs on Saturday.”
    The Hawklets put eight men in the box and held Warmack to a season-low 66 yards, but quarterback Wylson Lamb hooked up with Darrius Shepherd for one touchdown and the junior wide receiver/return specialist returned a punt for another in the 14-11 state quarterfinal win.
    “We just do what we need to do to win,” Shepherd said. “Our coaches are so smart, and they have us so well prepared. If we can run the ball with Dalvin, we will. If the passing game is open, we’ll pass the ball. And you know our defense is going to take care of business.”
    Lamb believes a key element to success Saturday in the Dome is focus.
    “If we are focused all week in practice and focused during the game, we should be successful,” Lamb said. “Having Dalvin in the backfield gives our offense a lot of confidence, but we know we can throw the ball, too, and we have some great wide receivers.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The Wildcats offense, defense and special teams all feed off each other, and that could be another key to success in the title matchup of the state titans.
    “We have a motto,” defensive tackle Jason Young said. “Alignment, assignment and effort. It’s still early in the week, but I have already seen the defensive intensity rise at practice. The effort has been there from Day 1 and our coaches are going to have us in the right position to make the big plays.
    “I moved to Blue Springs from Independence before my freshman year, and this is something I have dreamed about for four years. All the seniors on this team have dreamed about winning a state championship and now, we can make that dream come true Saturday night.”
    Donohoe knows it’s a coaching cliché, but he believes the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win the Class 6 title.
    “We were here in 2009 and we dropped a punt and had a punt returned for a touchdown against us – two big mistakes,” Donohoe said. “We can’t let anything like that happen Saturday, and I don’t think it will.
    “I’ve noticed the intensity picking up each day at practice. I see a quiet confidence. By Saturday, the game plan will be in place, the guys are going to be fired up and we’re going to be ready to go.”
     
     
     
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