Late Thursday night, a hype video spread across Twitter, passed along by Rockhurst High School students. Its contents promoted a football game between the Hawklets and Shawnee Mission East.
A day earlier, Rockhurst senior defensive back Ross Elder had referred to the meeting as purely a social rivalry, and the clip on social media provided his evidence.
But after more than three decades apart, the programs opted to use a football game to settle a debate instead.
Rockhurst owned the compelling argument.
The Hawklets forced six turnovers — transforming four of them into points — yet barely squeaked by Shawnee Mission East 26-20 on Friday.
SM East, 2-1, surpassed 500 yards of offense but saw its potential game-winning drive stall at its own 45-yard line in the final minute.
Rockhurst improved to 5-0.
“We were terrible on offense; our defense gave up a ton of yards; our kicking game stunk; and yet we won the game,” Rockhurst coach Tony Severino said. “You figure it out. I sure can’t.”
The matchup was played in front of an every-seat-occupied crowd at Dasta Memorial Stadium. It highlighted the Missouri-Kansas rivalry week, which included 11 games in the Kansas City area with Missouri-Kansas matchups, all of which were won by Missouri schools.
None were bigger than Rockhurst and Shawnee Mission East.
The first meeting between the two programs since 1982 featured teams ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in The Star’s big-class poll. And they each seemingly brought their entire student bodies to the Rockhurst campus on Friday.
Hawklets quarterback Chance May scored on a pair of short runs — the first one only 79 seconds into the game after a fumble recovery.
“It was one of the most fun experiences I have ever had,” May said. “They’re a heck of a team. We think we have a heck of a team. The student bodies really showed up today. It was an awesome atmosphere.”
The Hawklets managed to send their side into a frenzy with a bevy of big plays — almost all of them by their defense.
A trio of first-half turnovers shoved SM East into an early hole. Three more in the second half prevented the Lancers from climbing out of it.
All three first-half giveaways turned into points for Rockhurst, none more instantaneously than an interception from Elder. With SM East looking to take its first lead in the second quarter, Elder picked off a swing pass and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown.
Despite the plethora of turnovers, SM East managed to stay in the game. Somehow. Its run-first offense struck with a pair of big pass plays — a 43-yard pass down the seam from Luke Kaiser to Trevor Thompson in the second quarter and a 34-yard strike from Kaiser to Sky Tate to make it 26-20 with 3:13 left.
After the Rockhurst defense prevented the go-ahead score, the Hawklets charged to a waiting, packed student section to celebrate.
“This was high school football back in the ’60s and ’70s — when kids had nothing to do other than go to the football game,” Severino said. “I’ll play in that atmosphere every time.”