For the past three weeks Blue Springs football coach Kelly Donohoe has been singing the praises of what he believes will be a championship caliber defense.

For the past three weeks Blue Springs football coach Kelly Donohoe has been singing the praises of what he believes will be a championship caliber defense.

His praise was rewarded Friday night at Rockhurst High School with a rock-solid defensive performance, but not a season-opening win as the Hawklets claimed a 7-6 victory.

Blue Springs led 6-0 at the half and held the high-flying Hawklets to just 36 yards of offense in the first two quarters of action.

But Rockhurst came out of the locker room and put together a 70-yard, game-winning drive that ate 6:48 off the clock.

Quarterback Frank Arbanas hit Ryan Karlin with a 13-yard scoring strike and Griffin Bins kicked the game-winning extra point to send the Wildcats home thinking about what might have been.

But the Wildcats didn’t return to Blue Springs until Donohoe and assistant coach Tim Dade gave them a tongue lashing for some finger-point aspects they witnessed during the game.

“I’m more disappointed in some of the things I saw on our sidelines than the outcome of the game,” said Donohoe as his players quietly left the visiting locker room at Dasta Memorial Stadium.

“We saw some things that are going to be fixed. If we don’t fix them, it’s going to be a long, long season. If we get them fixed, we’re going to have the chance to be there at the end and possibly play these guys again.

“Now is the time our leaders – especially our senior leaders – to step up and take charge of this team. And we have the guys who can do that.”

Two of those leaders are senior linebackers Lewis Foutz and Jon Trocosso, who spent as much time in the Hawklets backfield as Arbanas.

“What we have to do is build from this loss,” Foutz said. “You can’t point a finger at a teammate after a game like this, that doesn’t help anything.”

Added Trocosso, “I’m so proud of the way our team played tonight. We were an extra point away from tying the game and a play or two away from winning it.

“We’re a team. Period. And we’re going to support each other and do everything we can to learn from this loss and not let something like this happen again this season.”

First-year quarterback Kyle Brown made a solid debut, hitting 11 of 16 passes for 130 yards, including a perfectly thrown 13-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Nubine.

But Brown and all-state running back Darrian Miller were picked off in the red zone, thwarting potential Wildcat scoring plays. Rockhurst’s Kevin Berg came away with both picks.

Nubine appeared wide open near the end zone late in the third period, but Miller’s halfback pass was a bit late and Berg came away with his second interception of the night.

It might have been Nubine’s second touchdown of the night. Following Nubine’s touchdown reception, Nick Waite attempted his first extra point, but it was blocked.

“Those things happen,” Donohoe said of the kicker who won the job on Friday morning. “That’s not why we lost this game. We made a lot of mistakes tonight, but we did a lot of good things, too.

“We just can’t let the actions of a few players on this team make a negative impact on the rest of their teammates. You might see some changes on this team. That’s something we are going to have to determine later in the week.”

Brown said he was happy to get his first varsity game under his belt.

“I got to see live action, complete a pass, get hit – all that stuff,” Brown said. “I’m really disappointed in the interception (that ended a 58-yard drive on the 15-yard line with 3:17 left in the half). But I’m going to learn from everything that happened – the good and the bad.

“We have to learn from this and build on this game, or it’s just a negative. We can make it into a positive and go out and play a great game next week.”

Nubine, who is taking over at wide receiver for three-time all-state standout Keeston Terry – who was at the game supporting his former teammates – said the loss reminds him of the 17-3 setback at Rockhurst in the third week last year.

“We were a different team after they beat us last year,” said Nubine, who caught the first three passes of the game for three first downs and 46 yards. “We were more determined, we worked harder, and we didn’t want to feel that way again.

“Our defense played so great tonight. They were great! And now, the offense has to improve, and I think we will.”

Miller finished the night with 107 yards on 30 carries.