Blue Valley’s defense scored the first touchdown of Friday night’s Kansas Class 5A quarterfinal game against Mill Valley.
By TODD ENGLE
Special to The Star
As it turned out, that lone score was all the Tigers would need in a 38-0 victory at Blue Valley District Stadium.
Blue Valley, 8-3, held the previously undefeated Jaguars to just 77 yards of offense.
The defense set the tone in the first quarter when Jalen Cooks sacked and stripped Mill Valley quarterback Ty Bruce. Joe Forlenza scooped up the fumble and scored from 10 yards out.
“I wouldn’t have got that touchdown without my friend Cookie (Cooks). He made that play and went right in there. It was all Cookie on that touchdown,” Forlenza said. “We all had a painful feeling last year, and we put that into this game and it really got us going. We were all together, and we shut them out.”
The Jaguars had scored at least 21 points in their previous games this season. The closest they got to the end zone on Friday was the Blue Valley 49-yard line.
Mill Valley, 10-1, lost starting quarterback Logan Koch on the third play of the game to an apparent head injury.
“Ty had played so much, it didn’t change a lot as far as our game plan goes,” Mill Valley coach Joel Applebee said of the switch at QB. “Ty’s experienced with our offense … But again, it comes down to doing what your job is, and give Blue Valley credit. They played very well.”
The Jaguars looked to their running game to jump start the offense. But it never got going as they finished with 30 yards on 19 carries.
Blue Valley’s ground game, on the other hand, was working just fine. Chance Nelson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown. His back up, Montana Brady, ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
“Coach (Lew) Rowe, our offensive line coach, pumped us up a little bit and got the offensive line rolling,” Nelson said. “Toward the end of the second quarter and into the second half we started picking it up and had some big holes. The defense did a great job getting three-and-outs, so we were on the field a lot, and we wanted to keep them off the field.”
Next up for Blue Valley is rival Blue Valley West. West won the first meeting of the season 18-17 on Nov. 1.
If the defense can continue on the course it set on Friday, good things are in store for the Tigers.
“Our defensive staff, led by Rick McNerlin, our defensive coordinator, did a great job preparing our kids,” Blue Valley coach Eric Driskell said. “Our kids bought into the game plan, and really prepared. They played well.”
It would’ve been tough for them to play better.