The members of the Blue Springs High School football team are too savvy to predict a winner when they travel to Rockhurst at 7 tonight to take on their longtime rival in a game that will be played a half hour earlier than past encounters between the two area titans.
The Hawklets (0-1) enter the game still licking their wounds from a 33-21 opening-day loss at Columbia Rock Bridge while coach Kelly Donohoe’s Wildcats are riding high following a 39-0 drubbing of overmatched William Chrisman at Peve Stadium in Week 1.
“This is a different week – it’s Rock Week – and the intensity at practice just rises up a lot,” Wildcats senior offensive lineman Jack Johnson said. “They’re coming into Friday night off their first loss and no one expects Rockhurst to start the season 0-2.
“So we better be ready to play. I can tell you that we’re 100 percent ready to go – especially the seniors on the team – and we’re making sure the underclassmen know how big this game is. No one wants to lose to Rock, especially their senior year.”
His fellow senior lineman, Conrad Rowley, agrees.
“It’s Rockhurst week – that’s all you need to say in the locker room, at practice or while we’re watching film,” Rowley said. “It’s the most anticipated game of the season, this one and, of course, Blue Springs South.
“And I don’t care which team won – or lost – their opener, we better be ready to go 110 percent because we’re going over to their place and there’s nothing they would rather do than beat us at (their) home.”
With the offense running wild in the win over Chrisman, with Aveion Bailey finishing with 194 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and newcomer Quentin Fontenot adding 140 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries, it was easy to overlook a stellar Blue Springs defense in the opening win.
“We have no fear – a lot of respect – but absolutely no fear of Rockhurst,” senior defensive lineman Nikko Manning said. “Our coaches have us so prepared. We’re getting ready to go watch film right now, and we’re going to know everything there is to know about Rockhurst – just like every year.
“We’re buying in 100 percent and ready to play one of our biggest games of the season.”
Senior linebacker Austin Stuller can’t wait for tonight. The teams have split the last six meetings dating back to 2013, but Blue Springs has won the last two 24-7 in 2016 and 21-14 last season.
“I’m a senior, we’re 1-0 and playing Rockhurst. It’s the kind of start you hoped for and we can’t wait to line up against them,” Stuller said. “It’s just one game, but it’s one big game and we’re all working hard to get a win over there.”
Donohoe, one of the most laid back coaches in the area, admitted to being a bit of a grouch this week – and guess why?
“I was grumpy and kind of short with some people and I’m like, ‘What’s causing this?’ Oh, yeah, it’s Rock Week,” he said, grinning. “It’s been a good week, though. We have had some great practices, and we were able to get off the field (Wednesday) before that big rain hit thankfully.
“The guys are into it. You can tell it’s Rock Week. The leaders are doing a great job making sure everyone is ready. We’re all excited about playing over there (tonight).”