The weather forecast for Columbia tonight calls for cooler than recent temperatures, gusty winds and possible rain.
“It does?” asked junior offensive lineman Daniel Parker, one of the most sought after linemen in the nation, “Great! Nothing is going to stop us – we’ve overcome so many obstacles this season with all our injuries and things that a little bad weather isn’t going to mean a thing.”
It could also play right into the hands of coach Kelly Donohoe, whose Wildcats are seeking their fifth state title under his direction and sixth in the history of the school as Blue Springs takes an 11-2 record against 11-1 Kirkwood at 7 tonight at the University of Missouri’s Faurot Field.
Real Country 1030 AM KCWJ will broadcast the game live, with the pregame show starting at 6 p.m. featuring an interview with wide receiver Tyree King and quarterback Dylan Cowling.
“Wind, rain, colder weather – that could be helpful,” said Donohoe, as his Wildcats have run roughshod over every postseason opponent thanks to a stellar offensive line and the play of Cowling and his makeshift running back corps.
Cowling started the season at linebacker and returned to the quarterback position he played last season. Starters Jaylen Ivey and Michael Warmack have been in and out of backfield due to injuries, but everyone who has been asked to contribute has starred for the Wildcats.
“I’m so pumped for the game that I wanted to play after we beat CBC last Friday (in St. Louis), I was ready to get on a bus and drive to Columbia and play the game that night,” said Cowling, who has led an offense that has scored 189 points and averaged 47.5 points per game in postseason play.
“Weather isn’t going to be a concern Friday night. We’ll line up and play anyone, anytime. We’re ready. This is what we’ve been working for all season and the game is finally here.”
Ivey and Warmack believe the game will be decided in the trenches, and they have the utmost confidence in their teammates who have owned the trenches all season.
“We believe we have the best line in the state,” Warmack said. “It hasn’t mattered who’s been in the backfield all season, they open the big holes and we have big games.”
Added Ivey: “If they put eight in the box, Tyree (King), Tre (Wheaton) and Tanner (Taula) should have big games. Then, when they have to adjust to our passing game, we’ll make some big runs – that’s the game plan.”
Kirkwood features senior quarterback Reece Goddard, the greatest passer in Pioneers history. This season he has completed 116 of 183 passes for 2,416 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The do-it-all quarterback is also the team’s leading rusher with 127 carries for 627 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“We have to find a way to stop Goddard, and I know our coaches have been working hard on that game plan all week,” said Donohoe, who usually focuses on the offensive side of the ball. “They put eight in the box, like we are anticipating, we’ll be ready.
“Dylan is such a smart quarterback that he’s going to see what’s happening out there and be ready for it.”
So is King, the wide receiver who opened last week’s 35-21 win over CBC with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“We’ve got a great quarterback and offensive line and we’re pretty versatile offensively,” King said. “If they take away our running game, we have all kind of packages that move the ball. Then, we can hit them with a big play with Michael or Jaylen. We’re ready – we’ve watched film, our scout team has been amazing, we know this is it, and like I said, we’re going to be ready for anything.”