In a game that featured just 27 hard-earned points, there was a season’s worth of highlights for the Blue Springs High School football team.
The Wildcats used grit and guts to stop a determined Columbia Rock Bridge squad 17-10 Friday night at Peve Stadium in Class 6 District 1 action.
• For the first time this season, brothers Dom and Isaac Harkness hooked up for a touchdown as quarterback Dom found Isaac near the end zone and little brother bulled his way into the end zone to tie it 7-7 at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter.
• Trailing 10-7 in the third quarter, Blue Springs Freddy Romero drilled a 29-yard field goal to knot the score at 10-all at 5:44.
• Less than two minutes later, big offensive lineman Beau Stephens bull-rushed the Bruins offensive line and managed to block a 41-yard field goal attempt by Will Norris, who was accurate from the 30-yard line earlier in the game.
• Dom Harkness was knocked out of the game with a deep bruise to his knee, but refused to stay on the sidelines and hooked up with Cooper Willich for a 32-yard pass that set up Quentin Fontenot’s 17-yard game-winning touchdown.
• But perhaps the biggest play of the night came with 2:26 left in the game when defensive back Quin Ensor picked off Grant Hajicek to nearly seal the postseason victory.
• On a late fourth-and-one from the 32, Fontenot ran for four yards to pick up the biggest first down of the night and help the 6-4 Wildcats run out the clock and live to play another day.
“Oh my goodness, there were so many big plays in this game,” Wildcats coach Kelly Donohoe said. “And how tough is Dom? Our backup quarterback is hurt, and we needed him – and that’s the knee he hurt last year, so we were all concerned.
“But he’s a tough kid, and we knew – if he could – he’d be back. And that just shows how tough he is. But tonight, everyone was tough.
“How about Beau blocking that field goal? That was huge. And Quin’s interception at the end and Quentin’s final first down. Our guys are so tough, they wanted this one tonight. And they went out and got it.”
There was some confusion as to who blocked the field goal, but Stephens had ready information.
“I blocked it, but I don’t know how because their guy hit me low and I was falling down and got my hand up and blocked it,” the 6-foot-6, 305-pound lineman said. “Stef (Black) was in there too, and I think he got the ball. We knew we had to do something at that point of the game, and we did it.”
When asked about his knee injury, Dom simply smiled as his brother gave him a hug.
“I wasn’t coming out,” Dom said. “It hurt when it first happened, but once I was able to run around a little on the sidelines, it felt fine. It feels pretty good now.”
And how did that first touchdown pass to Isaac feel?
Dom’s smile gave the answer.
“That was the greatest!” Isaac said. “We’ve been waiting all season for that to happen, and to happen in a game that really mattered made it even more important. This was a great team win and my brother is one tough player.”
Ensor said his interception was just part of a total team effort.
“I saw Danny (Wheeler) come off the edge, he got good pressure and I went for the ball,” Ensor said. “We kept fighting to the end. That’s what our team has done all year.”
While the Wildcats were enjoying the biggest win of the season, the heart-broken 3-7 Bruins were holding back tears, while spending a few final minutes on a football field.
“The mood of this team, in the locker room and on the field never wavered this season, even though it was a disappointing season,” said Hajicek, the senior quarterback who was 0 for 13 with two interceptions. “We played hard all season and I am so proud to be a part of this team.”
Jalen Logan-Redding – a defensive end and University of Missouri commit who Stephens said “was the best defensive end I faced this season” – told his teammates after the game, “I love every one of you.”
Bruins coach Van Vanatta watched the scene on the field and forced a smile.
“This is always tough, especially for our seniors,” Vanatta said. “As a coach – and I remember how it feels when I played high school – that last game is so tough. I am so very proud of these guys.
“Blue Springs has a great program and we did everything we could to come down here and get a win and we just fell a little bit short.”