On a night in the first week of October, Blue Springs senior quarterback Ian Brown arrived home just before midnight, sat down on his bed and stared at nothing particular. He contemplated what had gone wrong the previous three hours, when the Wildcats found themselves on the wrong end of a blowout against Raymore-Peculiar.
Brown ultimately stood up in front of his teammates and took responsibility for the loss. He asked them to work hard enough to give him another chance.
That second chance came Friday. Brown and the Wildcats made the most of it.
Blue Springs rolled over Ray-Pec 42-17 in the second round of the Missouri Class 6 district playoffs, avenging the loss to the Panthers on Oct. 3.
Brown totaled more than 300 yards, threw two touchdowns and ran for another score in Friday’s victory.
“That loss hit me hard,” Brown said. “I told the team that one was on me. I needed to be better. As a team, collectively, we got better. You could see that in the result tonight.”
And now another rematch awaits Blue Springs, the two-time defending Class 6 state champion. Blue Springs will travel next week to play Rockhurst in the Class 6, District 4 championship. Rockhurst upended Blue Springs 14-13 in a Week 6 game.
When the two powerhouse programs play each other next week, it will mark the ninth time in the last 13 years they have met in the postseason.
“That was a tough night leaving that field against Rockhurst,” Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said. “That was a bitter loss. We told the kids to keep grinding and keep getting better and hope for the opportunity to see them again.
“It will probably be one of those classics again.”
They will both ride plenty of momentum into the state quarterfinal. Rockhurst defeated Kickapoo 41-0 on Friday for its ninth straight win. Blue Springs has won five straight.
The Wildcats, 8-3, trailed 10-9 in the final minute of the opening half Friday, but they reeled off 33 straight points in pulling away after halftime.
The tone for the dominant second half was set up by the final exchange of the first half.
Blue Springs wide receiver Kori Cheatham caught a 33-yard pass but fumbled just before crossing the goal line with less than a minute remaining. Ray-Pec took over at its own 1-yard line but returned the favor two plays later with a fumble of its own.
That allowed Blue Springs two more cracks at the end zone, and the Wildcats capitalized with a 2-yard fade from Brown to Terrance Sanders with 6 seconds remaining in the half.
“The fumble right before the half was just a kick in the teeth,” Ray-Pec coach Tom Kruse said.
Ray-Pec, 8-3, trailed only 17-10, but the damage was done. It tallied fewer than 100 yards of offense after halftime, though tailback Isaiah Truss still managed to top 100 yards for the 10th time this season.
But Truss failed to the find end zone. Blue Springs tailback Cobi Bissell found it twice.
“This is the best we're playing all year,” Donohoe said. “We’re excited. We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now.”