The Blue Valley West mantra for the past year has been simple, yet unforgettable.
By ZACHARY SPAIN
Special to The Star
The distance short, but the memories long.
That’s how close Ryan Ralston’s quarterback keeper came to leading the Jaguars to a Kansas Class 5A sectional championship last season. Instead, his double-overtime, two-point conversion run was ruled 1 inch short, sending Bishop Miege onto the field in celebration.
Friday, on that Dixon Doll Stadium field, the visiting Jaguars closed that distance in a 38-24 win and advanced to state semifinals with plenty of room to spare.
Last year, their 37 points weren’t enough in a one-point, 1-inch loss. This time, BV West never let it get that close.
“It’s a huge monkey off of our backs,” Ralston said. “We’ve been waiting 365 days to have this chance.”
Bishop Miege, 9-2, closed but never overcame a 17-point first-quarter deficit as the windy conditions and pressure on Stags junior quarterback Ryan Willis led to five interceptions that BV West turned into 21.
And a muffed punt return on the game’s opening possession gave the Jaguars, 8-3, the ball in Miege territory and set up their first touchdown. Grant Garcia capped that drive with a 2-yard run a little more than 2 minutes in. It was a sign of events to come.
“Anytime you have that many turnovers, it’s tough,” said Bishop Miege coach Jon Holmes, whose team defeated their East Kansas League rivals 21-19 during the regular season. “Against a good team, it’s real tough.”
Thanks to those miscues and the short field that followed, the Jaguars had four scoring drives of three plays or fewer.
With the quick lead, Ralston was more game-manager than the dual-threat he can be, rushing for 84 yards and passing for 104—most of it on a 63-yard touchdown completion to Luke Curtis.
Garcia had 141 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Tyler Cox ran for two more TDs and 104 yards.
Bishop Miege outgained BV West 501–438 almost entirely thanks to Willis’ arm. Willis was 33 of 54 for 460 yards and three touchdown passes.
His two touchdown passes to Michael Murphy in the first half cut the BV West lead to 17-14. After Cox scored from 10 yards after Cale McMakin’s second interception of Willis with 1:25 left in the half, the Stags got no closer than a touchdown.
This year, one inch was more than enough.