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Cat Clash 2020: Wildcats' Thomas adds to his repertoire

By Bill Althaus
Blue Springs running back DeAndre Thomas (20) tries to break a tackle by Liberty's Ricky Ahumaraeze (1) in the season opener. Thomas has rushed for 547 yards and added some pass-catching ability out of the backfield as well for the 3-4 Wildcats.

Nothing about DeAndre Thomas’ 2020 rushing stats should surprise Blue Springs High School football fans.

The 5-foot-8, 175-pound senior has rushed for 547 yards on 103 carries and found the end zone six times.

What might be a surprise are his nine receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

“I have so much faith in DeAndre, whether I’m handing him the ball or throwing him the ball,” quarterback Patrick Maloney said. “This year we didn’t get off to the start we wanted, but we’re getting better and better each week.

“And we’re getting more confident each week, and you can see that in the way we are incorporating DeAndre into all phases of our offense.”

All-state offensive lineman Beau Stephens agreed.

“You give DeAndre a seam to run through and he can take it all the way,” Stephens said. “And he’s got good hands. If he gets the ball in open space he’s gone.”

And it’s not just his teammates who are lavishing Thomas with praise.

“We want to get the ball into DeAndre’s hands,” first-year head coach David White said. “He’s one of our leaders on offense. He is small, but he is a dynamic runner, a strong runner, a twitchy runner who can turn a small carry into a big play.

“And like I told him early in the season, I’ve had backs with 40 catches, and he’s feeling more and more comfortable and confident in our passing game. He’s had a couple of breakaway plays on pass plays and we’re looking to keep going with what works.”

Like his teammates, Thomas is thrilled the team is coming off a 43-36 upset with over a 5-1 Lee’s Summit West team and he’s hoping to claim another big win Friday when the Wildcats travel across town to meet rival Blue Springs South in the annual Cat Clash.

“I’m really excited to play South,” Thomas said. “There are a lot of big games, but when you play your crosstown rival, it’s one of the biggest.

“We know all of them, they know all of us, we’ve played with and against each other since we were little kids and the big rivalry game your senior year is what it’s all about.”

Thomas believes the 3-4 Wildcats (3-4, 2-4 Suburban Big Eight) can use the momentum from last week’s win over the Titans to roll into South with a world of confidence.

“We’re so much better than we were Week 1,” he said. “We’re getting better and better every week, and I personally feel more confident every week. I have confidence in myself, my teammates and our coaches.

“Coach White and our coaches are working hard to put us in the best position to win. Coach White is a pass-oriented coach, but I can tell how he’s getting more confident in our running game.

“And I’ve worked hard on catching the ball and feel like I can be a part of our passing game, too, and that makes us harder to stop because Patrick is a great quarterback.”

The Blue Springs-Blue Springs South matchup has been a part of Thomas’ life for more years than he can remember – and not just in football. Thomas was a state qualifier in wrestling last season and has gone head to head with the Jaguars on the mat too.

“I always went to the (football) game with relatives, starting back when I was a little kid,” Thomas said. “I didn’t have a favorite player, but I had a favorite team – Blue Springs!

“You could just tell how big a game it was from the way the fans acted during the game. And we’re going to have our fans back for the game Friday and I can’t wait.”