OLATHE, Kan. – It wasn’t the outcome they had hoped for, but Missouri head coach William Harris and Van Horn High School quarterback Shaun Ross wouldn’t trade their all-star experience for anything.
“Well,” Ross quipped, “I’d trade it for a win right now. But this experience was something I will never forget. We wanted to get a win, but to practice with my coaches one more time, to get to know guys I’d played against the past few years, that’s what I’ll remember long after we forget about the final score.”
And that final score was 35-21 as Kansas scored 35 consecutive points to erase Missouri’s 14-0 lead to win its second game in a row and cut the overall deficit to 14 wins for Missouri and 13 Kansas wins in the BeYounion.com Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game Thursday night at College Boulevard Activities Center in Olathe.
Harris, who made a point of shaking the hand of each of his Missouri players after the game, said that despite the score each of them are winners.
“Now, you can ask my mom,” Harris said, “about how competitive I am. When I was 4 and lost a board game I knocked it off the table. I don’t like to lose – at anything – and I especially don’t like to lose a football game.
“But the young men who are on this team are winners. The scoreboard might not agree with that statement, but they are winners in life. They are the best players from Missouri and I enjoyed working with them and getting to know them.”
After the game, he huddled with his team and told them that he was available to them if they ever needed anything.
“We became pretty close the past week, and they are special in my life. Like I told you at practice yesterday, I wish I was still coaching them, working with them. I’m going to miss all of them,” he said.
For about a half Thursday night, it looked like Harris’ Missouri team might gain revenge for Kansas’ 38-0 whitewash win last year as Ross’ 32-yard run from his quarterback position set up the first Missouri score, a 2-yard run by Jonas Bennett.
Ross then scored Missouri’s second touchdown on a 10-yard run through the middle of the Kansas defense. That score came at 8:47 and Kansas did not score until the 2:02 mark when quarterback Tate Raboin scored on a 3-yard run.
Then, the wheels fell off for the Missouri all stars as Chyristian Roth blocked a Brian Boyd punt and recovered it in the end zone to knot the score at 14-all.
Then, with just 38 seconds left in the half, Jake Lamters stripped the ball from John Eldridge. Shane Skwarlo recovered it in the end zone to give Kansas a 21-14 lead.
Kansas then scored the first two touchdowns of the second half and held a 35-14 lead until Kellen Simoncic hit Harold Trainer for a 42-yard Missouri touchdown with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter.
As the final seconds clicked off the clock, players from both teams embraced, exchanged pleasantries and gathered for team photos and photos with their family members and friends.
“When you think of all the great defensive linemen in Kansas City and I was picked to play in this game, that makes it special even though we lost,” said Blue Springs’ Simeon Sullivan, who posed for photos with many of his Wildcat and Missouri teammates after the game.
“You hear about guys you play against, and the last week I’ve got to meet them and play with them and that is something I will never forget. I don’t like to lose, but I am so thankful to be a part of this team.”
Ross finished the game with 47 yards on five carries and the one 10-yard touchdown.
• Fort Osage linebacker Von Young, The Examiner’s 2018 Defensive Player of the Year, won the Ronald Warren Outstanding Linebacker Award, which is named after the late Southeast High School standout and is given to the top linebacker in the metro area.
“I wasn’t even thinking about an honor like that,” said Young, who could not attend the game because he was visiting family members in Texas. “I wanted to play in the game, but I couldn’t risk an injury because I’m going to Missouri State to play football. But that is a great honor and one I will always appreciate.”
• Former William Chrisman, Blue Springs and Truman High School coach Ed Russell was inducted into the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame at halftime.
He has coached over six decades who is credited with bringing the run-and-shoot offense to the metro area after visiting with its innovator, Tiger Ellison, back in 1966. He won The Examiner’s Coach of the Year awards when he was at Chrisman and Truman. He is still the press box coach for the Tipton Cardinals.