Wildcats ready for start under new coach

By Bill Althaus
A host of Blue Springs tacklers tries to take down receiver Isaac Harkness, center, during their intrasquad scrimmage last Friday.

Sitting in his makeshift office in the Peve Stadium press box, first-year Blue Springs High School football coach David White is relaxed and confident.

He has liked what he’s seen from his Wildcats and could not be more excited for Friday’s home and season opener against Liberty.

While many of the familiar faces will be missing from the Blue Springs sideline – including longtime head coach Kelly Donohoe, who retired at Blue Springs last year and is now the head football coach at Rockhurst High School – White believes he has a talented squad that will enjoy much success this season.

With mask on, new Blue Springs head coach David White addresses his players during their intrasqiad scrimmage last Friday.

“We’re right where we need to be,” White said after a recent practice session. “We are learning the offense and defense and they understand the tempo I expect at practice. We’re all excited about our first game and the entire season, for that matter. We’re ready to get after it.”

White comes to Blue Springs from Mississippi, where he coached at Ridgeland High School one year.

White won three conference championships and went 30-12 from 2003-06 at Las Vegas-area power Bishop Gorman High School before he became a graduate assistant and assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma.

“Being a first-year coach and taking over for a long term coach is always difficult,” White said. “However, the players have invested and more importantly bought into our philosophy and mindset.  

“I am excited about the growth on offense, moving from a run-dominated offense to a multiple, 50/50 run pass offense. We have some good players in good positions to make a difference.”

One of those players is first-year quarterback Patrick Maloney, who has made an impact in camp. He will have plenty of offensive weapons with the return of senior receivers Xavier Loyd and Isaac Harkness and newcomers Demerus Walker and Dalesean Staley.

Beau Stephens, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Iowa commit who was a first-team all-state performer, returns to anchor an offensive line that is big and talented. Stephens, who was listed by Sports Illustrated as an All-America candidate, will make the switch to center this season. He is joined by senior Troy Fisher and junior Donovan Romero as starters.

Ryan Leuthje is the Wildcats’ new defensive coordinator and he and White have already formed a special working relationship.

“Defensively, we have a new defensive coordinator who was promoted within,” White said. “He’s smart, he’s hungry and the players have also bought into his philosophy of playing aggressive and relentless defense. 

“I emphasize the ‘HOW’ we do things and let the rest sort itself out. I’m new to the league, but have been around football a long time. It’s about what we emphasize and our players will compete and play hard together.”

Stephens should also anchor the defensive line along with returnee T’Andre Forbush. Senior returning starter Kevin Roberson is expected to play a big role in the secondary. Senior linebackers Kaleb Starr and Conner Foreman saw playing time last season and return as starters.

Blue Springs quarterback Patrick Maloney (17) tries to elude tacklers during the team's intrasquad scrimmage last Friday.
Blue Springs senior receivers Isaac Harkness (9) and Xavier Loyd (13) share a laugh during last Friday's intrasquad scrimmage. The duo is expected to play a big role on the offensefor the Wildcats this season.
Blue Springs quarterback Patrick Maloney, right, hands off to running back Roman Harris II in an intrasquad scrimmage last Friday at Peve Stadium.
Blue Springs senior receiver Isaac Harkness (9) tries to elude defender Brendan Bledsoe (35) during the Wildcats' intrasquad scrimmage last Friday.

Wildcats at a glance

Head coach: David White (first season at Blue Springs)

2019 record: 6-5 (2-3 Suburban Big Six)

Assistant coaches: Ryan Leuthje, Jed Paulsen, Nolan Hochgrebe, Joel Page, Ty Butler, Donte Watkins, Brian Banker, Danny Malone, Matt Hakes, JJ Aller, Jim Johnson, Ben Licklider, Nick Solomon, Marcus Crosdale

Returning letter-winners: 38

Returning offensive starters: Beau Stephens, 6-6, 315, sr., OL; Troy Fisher, 6-2, 260, sr., OL; Donovan Romero, 5-11, 255, jr., OL; Xavier Loyd, 6-2, 175, sr., WR; Isaac Harkness, 6-1, 180, sr., WR; DeAndre Thomas, 5-8, 175, sr., RB; Carson Willich, 6-1, 200, HB/TE, jr.

Returning defensive starters: Beau Stephens, 6-6, 315, DL; T’Andre Forbush, 6-3, 235, sr., DE; Kaleb Starr, 5-11, 200, sr., LB; Conner Foreman, 6-0, 190, sr., LB; Jordan Worley, 5-9, 165, sr., DB, Kevin Roberson, 5-10, 180, sr., DB.

Others to watch: Lamana Tapusoa, 5-11, 195, soph., RB/LB; Patrick Maloney, 5-11, 175, sr., QB; Demerus Walker, 6-10, 190, sr., WR; Dalesean Staley, 6-0, 185, jr., WR/DB; Eli Youman, 6-5, 215, soph., TE/DE; Ike Ezeogu, 6-5, 225, jr., DE.