One play Friday night summed up Blue Springs South’s football season for South coach Greg Oder.

One play Friday night summed up Blue Springs South’s football season for South coach Greg Oder.
The Jaguars had taken a 15-14 lead over Liberty with 3:59 left in the third quarter. Needing at least a 10-point victory to advance from Class 6 District 8 to sectionals, they tried an onside kick. The ball bounced to Garrett Ragland on the front line of Liberty’s return team.
Ragland raced for a 50-yard touchdown, ending South’s only lead of the game in 8 seconds. Liberty outscored South 22-13 the rest of the way to hand the Jaguars a 42-28 season-ending loss at William Jewell College. The Jaguars finished 4-6 overall, their first losing season since their inaugural season in 1992, and 0-3 in district play.
“This year, anything that could go wrong went wrong,” Oder said. “And so, of course, the kid catches it (in) full stride (and) runs it in for a touchdown.”
To Blue Jays coach Joel Wells, the return summed up Ragland as a person and an athlete.
“He’s probably the most intelligent person in our school,” Wells said. “I think he’s No. 1 in the senior class, as far as grade point average (is concerned). He’s a student-athlete. He recognized the approach, got a great bounce, made a great play.”
Ragland’s return “was the play of the game,” Wells said.
Ragland suggested the play also was resulted from a calculated risk.
“Usually, I just kind of block (on kickoff returns), but I noticed that the kicker (Connor Harris) took a different approach to the ball,” he said. “So I just kind of took a chance and ran up on it. It took a perfect bounce right up into my torso, so I just grabbed it and ran. There was a perfect opening.”
 Until the return, the Jaguars seemed poised to pull off a comeback win. Trailing 14-3 at halftime, they launched a seven-play, 81-yard scoring drive, capped by Calvin Jacobson’s 43-yard TD pass to Dominique Wright with 8:14 left in the third quarter.
“(The) O-line did a really good job blocking and Calvin just put it on the right spot,” Wright said. “It was just a good job overall.”
A fumble recovery set up South’s go-ahead score, a 4-yard TD pass from Jacobson to Logan Moon.
After Ragland’s return and Kevin VanEgdom’s two-point conversion pass to Bryan Adams, Jacobson was intercepted, which set up Liberty’s 13-play, 76-yard scoring drive, capped by Garrett White’s 7-yard TD run with 9:13 left in the fourth quarter. Jared Haferbier’s 20-yard TD run and Christian Brinser’s extra-point kick made it 35-15 Liberty with 5:57 left.
Jacobson’s 32-yard TD pass to Wright cut Liberty’s lead to 35-21 with 3:33 left. Liberty answered on its next possession with White’s 36-yard scoring run and Brinser’s point after.
Jacobson threw the last of his four touchdowns and got the last of his 338 passing yards with his 1-yard strike to Moon with 1:11 left.
Jacobson, who was held to 58 yards through the first half, praised South’s second-half passing game.
“The line held up perfectly,” said Jacobson, who completed 25 of 36 passes overall. “They set up, they kept a pocket open for me and the receivers ran great routes. They were just getting open for me. They all made it easy.”
Liberty (8-2, 2-1) will continue its season next Friday at Rockhurst in the Class 6 sectionals. South, no doubt, will start focusing on turning around its program.
“Everything happens for a reason, I think,” Wright said. “Hopefully, the Jaguars will be back on top next year.”
If they are, they’ll be there without Wright. He’s one of 15 seniors South will lose to graduation.