Blue Springs South quarterback Max Conard is known more for his arm than his rushing ability.
After five games, the senior had just 123 yards rushing on 37 carries (3.3 yards per carry) and 720 yards through the air.
But in Friday’s game at William Chrisman, he said he saw something in the Bears’ defense that had him using his legs more than usual. He actually used his right arm and his legs effectively as he rushed for 110 yards on six carries and a touchdown and completed 13 of 23 passes for 161 yards and five more scores, spoiling Chrisman’s homecoming in a 50-13 blowout win at Independence All-School Stadium.
Added South head coach Matt Klein: “That’s something we’ve been trying to get him to do more. When stuff breaks down, he’s a good athlete and he can take off running. He saw some things tonight and made some great plays.”
Conard’s big day helped the Jaguars (1-5) earn their first win of the season and it was the first for Klein as the Jaguars’ head coach.
“I am happy for the kids,” Klein said. “You go through the grind of the summer and everything else. We wanted to get a win for those kids. We just need to keep better and better down the final stretch of the season.”
South wide receiver Cortes Essex, who had three receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns, said this first win could be a springboard for his Jaguars.
“It was great to get over that losing streak – that hump – with my team,” Essex said. “Max balled out and there is more to come. He leveled up. He had a grown man game. We got something to prove. We aren’t the underdogs anymore.”
Essex had a couple of impressive plays as he had a leaping grab on a fade route for a 16-yard score late in the second period, and he got wide open as Conard hit him for a 32-yard catch and run. On the latter play, Essex powered through two would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone.
“Cortes has been working hard all summer,” Conard said. “This was a great night for him to show off his talent.”
Of Conards 110 rushing yards, 67 actually came on one play. He turned around to hand the ball off to running back Nahshon Rick after a snap that went too far to his left. Rick wasn’t there to take the handoff after the broken play, so Conard carried it himself and found some room along the right sideline before cutting to his left and racing in for a score to make it 16-0 in the second quarter.
“That wasn’t in our original game plan,” Conard said of running the ball himself. “We saw some stuff at the beginning of the second quarter and the O-line was blocking great. Nahshon was able to set up my runs. He opened things up for me.
“This felt great. There is a lot of pressure off my shoulders.”
Rick, who had 78 yards rushing on 12 carries, scored on a 3-yard run to get the scoring started, the South defense tackled Chrisman running back Devin Braswell for a safety, and Conard connected on TD passes to Isaiah Frost, Ovi Johnson and Qarnayn Lanier.
While Chrisman struggled on defense, head coach Matt Perry saw some positives on offense, especially from quarterback Osi Nauer. The senior connected on 4 of 8 passes for 89 yards and a 6-yard strike to tight end Lyndon Shell Jr., which was set up by a 65-yard connection between the two. Nauer also rushed for 136 yards on 17 carries. He scored on a 1-yard run for Chrisman’s first TD.
“We went through a lot of adversity this week,” Perry said. “A lot of things happened and it all manifested today. We have a lot of kids hurt and banged up. There were a lot of positives, though. Our kids played hard and did what they were supposed to do.”