People like to talk to the Blue Springs High School football coaches and players about the Wildcats’ offense. And with good reason — it averaged nearly 45 points per game en route to the Missouri Class 6 state championship, which it sealed with a 42-3 victory over Francis Howell of St. Charles last Saturday night in St. Louis.
After that triumph, Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe was greeted with questions about quarterback Wylson Lamb’s nearly perfect outing, wide receiver Darrius Shepherd’s big play ability on the outside and, of course, tailback Dalvin Warmack, who finished the season with 45 touchdowns.
But at every opportunity, Donohoe switched gears to talk about a less flashy group — the Wildcats’ defense.
Blue Springs allowed only 21 points in the final three games of the postseason, culminating in a dominant performance last Saturday.
“I think it wore on our defensive guys hearing about (Francis) Howell’s defense all week,” Donohoe said. “I don’t think our guys got a lot of credit.”
They should after last Saturday.
Blue Springs forced Francis Howell to swap ineffective quarterbacks throughout the game, quarterbacks who combined to complete only nine of 21 passes.
Faced with third-and-long more often than not, Francis Howell moved the chains on only one of its nine third-down attempts and one of four fourth-down tries.
“We knew we could be a great defense, but we had times (earlier this season) where we settled for where we were,” said senior Donte Watkins, who had a team-high seven tackles in the state title game. “These last three weeks, we got into the mindset of we had to be better each week or face the possibility of going home.”
Watkins finished the season second in tackles. Middle linebacker Rasheed Hobbs was the team leader.
Elijah Lee and Jason Young were the anchors of a defensive line that carried the load on 40 team sacks. The twosome combined for a sack in the championship game, improving Lee’s season-total to 16 and Young’s to 10.
Senior two-way player DaShaugn Terry had a team-best three interceptions.
Osage“>Fort Osage’s second trip to the Missouri Class 5 state championship game in four years ended much like the first — with disappointment followed by reflection on what went wrong.
In this case, following a 31-7 defeat by unbeaten Kirkwood last Friday night, the latter was pretty easy to answer. The Indians found no success in a passing game that proved reliable for the first 13 weeks of the season.
Steven McBee completed only 16 of 40 passes for 142 yards and two interceptions. Fort Osage dropped five passes, and McBee was sacked five times.
“They put extreme pressure on us,” McBee said. “Their (defensive backs) were all over the place. If I made a throw, it had to be a perfect throw. They came out with a great game plan, and it got us.”
An early 14-0 deficit forced Fort Osage to continue to stick with its ineffective passing game.
McBee is one of several key seniors the Indians will lose, but coach Ryan Schartz is optimistic the team will bounce back next season.
“Nobody outside of our locker room expected us to be here,” Schartz said. “So don’t count us out. We’ll be back.”