Blue Springs South keeps it close against No. 1 Liberty North before falling

Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner

Playing the role of underdog was just fine for Blue Springs South. 

Entering the final regular season game hosting Liberty North, tied for No. 1 in Class 6 by the Missouri Media voters, the Jaguars were still looking for the first win of the season. 

Blue Springs South gave the Eagles everything they wanted in the first half, but a few miscues in the second half opened the door and Liberty North pulled away to win 27-0 at Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium. 

At halftime the Jaguars trailed only 6-0 against Liberty North, which won its seventh straight game. Neither team scored in the first quarter, but the Jaguars (0-9, 0-7 Suburban Gold) had the best scoring chance. A 13-play drive featured a 12-yard pass to Luke Seib and then a 20-yard gain by Braden Watson. The ball was at the Liberty North 4-yard line but a fourth-down attempt pass fell incomplete. 

“No one but ourselves gave us a chance,” South coach Matt Klein said. “Our kids battled their tails off in the first half. Obviously, we got down in the red zone; it was huge, it could’ve been 7-6 (at halftime).” 

Liberty North coach Greg Jones said South's challenge was good for his team.

“We kind of needed that,” Jones said. “When you get high school kids and you have games we have recently, they start to think they are invincible and don’t want to work hard and whatever happens, happens. You come here and you have a team that wants to hit you in the mouth, they will. You don't go to school and you are all happy and this is a trap game. In their mind, they aren’t very good and in our mind, we kept telling them they are a good football team and they've got great athletes.”

Liberty North (7-1, 7-0) broke the tie early in the second quarter, scoring two touchdowns on the same drive after a 67-yard pass from Sam Van Dyne to Cayden Arzola was called back due to a block in the back penalty. Van Dyne, who picked up an offer from Missouri this week, then hit Xavier Horn on the next play. 

That set up a 29-yard touchdown pass to Justis Braden with 9:27 left. South blocked the extra point attempt to make it 6-0. 

The Jaguars defense came up with a big stand late in the second quarter. The Eagles were driving but Van Dyne’s pass in the end zone, with the ball at the 13, was picked off by Trey Patrick. 

Blue Springs South got the ball to open the second half but the drive started at the 2-yard line. The Jaguars moved up to the 23-yard line but a bad snap to quarterback Cash Parker went over his head and bounced around. He tried to jump on top of it, but it squirted away and Liberty North linebacker Melvin Laster fell on it in the end zone. 

The next two possessions for South came up empty and the Eagles put the throttle down to pull away. South attempted a fourth-down pass that came up empty at midfield. Eight plays later, Micah Jo Barnett scored on a 2-yard run. 

The Jaguars started the final drive of the third quarter on the 3-yard line but moved to near midfield with a 38-yard pass from Parker to Alex Israelite. But Kaden Durso sacked Parker for a 9-yard loss and then another bad snap turned into an 11-yard loss. 

That forced South to punt. Barnett fielded it and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown. 

“That punt return broke the back right there,” Klein said. 

South was limited to 121 yards of total offense with Parker passing for 148 yards. However, the rushing game was limited to minus-27 yards on 23 carries. 

South travels to No. 7-ranked Park Hill South (9-0) at 7 p.m. Friday to open district play.