Beau Stephens is a warrior.
After playing both offense and defense in a heartbreaking 41-29 Suburban Big Six loss at home to Raymore-Peculiar in which two of his pancake blocks led to 45- and 61-yard touchdown runs by Quentin Fontenot, he limped past the Blue Springs locker room to the training room down the hallway.
There he discovered that his broken right thumb had suffered a second fracture as he tried to get some relief from the burning sensation in his cramping calves and the throbbing pain caused by MCL issues in both knees.
“I gave it everything I had tonight – everything – and it just wasn’t enough, and that’s what’s so disappointing,” said the 6-foot-6, 305-pounder who is one of the most sought after offensive linemen in the country, and he’s only a junior.
“We’re missing so many guys on defense I played both ways, and I told coach that I’d give it everything I had when I was in there on either side of the ball, and I felt like I did. Now, I have to get everyone fired up at practice this week.
“I know our coaches are going to get us ready for next week. We made way too many mistakes tonight but we’re still a good team and we’re not going to let this lone keep us from working hard and winning a lot more games the rest of the season.”
With seven starters missing on defense, Stephens played two different positions on the line and came away with 1.5 sacks and several near misses against Ray-Pec quarterback Conrad Hawley.
The Panthers improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in league play with the win as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal by Gabe Sappington and a 15-yard touchdown run by Luke Grimm.
But Fontenot, who rushed for 315 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-17 win over Blue Springs South last week, scored on runs of 45 and 61 yards to give the Wildcats a brief 14-10 lead.
Sappington then hit a 24-yard field goal to make it 14-13 at halftime.
The Panthers used a 98-yard touchdown return by Grimm to start the third period and they had a 20-14 lead they never relinquished.
“You can’t beat a good team like Ray-Pec with all the mistakes we made tonight,” Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said after his team fell to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the Suburban Big Six. “The kickoff return hurt, and we had a couple of interceptions – things we have to clean up.”
The Panthers added two more scores to make it 34-14 before the Wildcats made it interesting as Dom Harkness hit Cooper Willich on a 69-yard touchdown pass. A bad snap resulted in Willich hitting Devon George for a two-point conversion.
Harkness then broke free of a 63-yard touchdown run at 6:23 of the fourth quarter to make it 34-29, but a 2-yard touchdown run by Grimm accounted for the final score, 42-29.
“Our kids came over and played hard – it’s tough to win at Blue Springs but we’ve had some of our better games here,” Panthers veteran coach Tom Kruse said after his team won its third game in a row at Peve Stadium. “That’s a good team, and no one is going to want to play them when they get healthy later in the season.”
Harkness finished 12 of 28 for 163 yards and Willich had nine receptions for 158 yards.
“We’re beat up, but we’re not going to make any excuses,” Donohoe said. “We have confidence in any player we put out on the field.”