Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe knew Park Hill’s defense was talented.
He got a first-hand look on Friday when the Trojans picked up a 12-0 victory in Suburban Big Six play at Preston Field.
The shutout loss is the first since Rockhurst blanked the Wildcats 17-0 in Week 2 last year. It was only the fourth shutout this decade, the other two: a 35-0 loss to Staley in 2015 and a 7-0 loss to Rockhurst in 2010.
The Park Hill defense limited the Wildcats to 130 yards of total offense and most of that came from Dom Harkness passing for 88 yards.
“We knew it would be low scoring and they have a really talented defense,” Donohoe said. “It is a frustrating night when you don’t score and you have opportunities in the red zone and don’t come away with points. We felt like we had a solid game plan but with the talent they had, it didn’t show up. We will fix all of that and get ready for next Friday.”
The Wildcats will play Columbia Rock Bridge (3-6) at Peve Stadium in the first round of districts.
Blue Springs gave up a pair of first-half field goals and trailed 6-0. The latter came with seconds left in the second quarter as the Trojans (7-2, 5-0) took advantage of a turnover by Blue Springs (5-4, 2-3) late in the half.
The Wildcats got a 37-yard completion from Harkness to Carson Willich to move the ball to the Park Hill 25-yard line with less than 2 minutes to play in the first half. On third-and-13, Javion Gathrite intercepted the ball at the 15-yard line and ran it back to the 45.
Park Hill’s Anthony Hall hit Jaylin Noel for a 37-yard gain but the drive stalled from there. On fourth down, Grant Pella kicked a 40-yard field goal with 8 seconds left in the second quarter.
Blue Springs kept the deficit at 6-0 when Noah Michael blocked a field goal attempt midway through the third quarter.
Park Hill scored on its next drive when Jaylin Noel caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hall with 2:28 left in the third.
The conversion pass failed to leave it at two-touchdown deficit.
Blue Springs drove to the Park Hill 32 early in the fourth quarter but turned it over on downs.
An interception by Brett LaVar gave the Wildcats renewed spirit on the next possession and the offense put together one of its best drive of the game.
Quentin Fontenot had a 16-yard gain to move the ball into Park Hill territory, his longest run of the game. The running back, though, finished with 15 carries for 1 yard after a handful of negative yardage carries.
The drive stayed alive thanks to a targeting call and pass interference. The Wildcats got to the 11-yard line but came up empty on fourth down.
“We didn’t stay ahead of the chains very well and had negative plays and we haven’t had that many this year but their defense forced us into some, especially on the outside,” Donohoe said. “They are just talented everywhere on defense. They are a really special group.”
The Wildcats had a short field on their next drive and got down to the Park Hill 9-yard line. Bryant LaVar had a 10-yard catch and a 10-yard holding call on the Trojans moved the ball to the 9-yard line. The next play ended in the hands of defensive back Antonio McCullough in the end zone and a touchback.
Park Hill limited the Wildcats’ rushing attack to 42 yards on 32 carries. Micah King accounted for 30 yards on 11 carries.
Blue Springs finished 4-for-16 in third-down conversions and went 0-for-4 on fourth-down attempts against a Park Hill defense that allows only 9.6 points per game.
“The kids knew we had a share of the (conference) title but they wanted to make a point not only win the conference outright, but to make sure we were undefeated,” Park Hill coach Josh Hood said. “To do it in the manner we did it and against a team as great as Blue Springs is, it is a great accomplishment.”