Well, you couldn't have asked for anything better from the fourth week of Missouri high school football.
More games came down to the wire than any previous week I can remember. Heck, the three Missouri games The Star covered all finished within a touchdown. Blue Springs and Lee's Summit West certainlylived up to its billing. Lee's Summit kicked a game-winning field goal to edge Liberty. And Blue Springs South escaped
with a three-point win against Staley.
Oh, wait. There's more. Here are five things I took away from Week 4:
1. Kearney finding its swagger
Only two weeks after allowing 77 points in a embarrassing loss to Lee's Summit — a performance that followed a lackluster season-opening win against North Kansas City — Kearney has found its momentum. So has tailback Brock Broughton. The Bulldogs fed their senior rusher Friday, and he responded by topping 200 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 26-25 win against Liberty North. On a night of comebacks (more on that later), Kearney pulled out one of the biggest. The Bulldogs erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to draw even with Winnetonka for the top spot in the Suburban Blue Conference. Both teams are 2-0. Platte County also remains undefeated in league play at 1-0. Kearney is averaging 43.7 points per game through four weeks. If the defense can match the offensive output, the Bulldogs might make a run at the conference title, and that didn't look possible a couple of weeks ago.
2. Rockhurst gets in the win column
That's more like it. After starting 0-3 for the first time in coach Tony Severino's 31-year tenure, Rockhurst obliterated Hutchinson (Kan.) 41-7. That's no slouch opponent, either. Hutchinson had scored 90 points during a 2-0 start before Rockhurst shut it down defensively. After a third straight loss in Blue Springs last week, linebacker Luke Arbanas told me the Hawklets were starting to find themselves defensively — holding Blue Springs to 22 points is no small feat — and he appears to be right. Add to that, junior quarterback T.J. Green led the team's best offensive effort of the season. He passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in the opening half Friday. Of course, the schedule still doesn't slow down for the Hawklets. They welcome Blue Springs South next week before traveling to Liberty in Week 6. Both opponents are 3-1.
3. Worth the hype
In a game billed to be the matchup of the year in Missouri, Blue Springs and Lee's Summit West lived up the promotion. Blue Springs avenged its only loss of 2012 with a 42-35 win on the road, but it was the nature in which the Wildcats won that provided the entertainment. Neither team led by more than seven points at any juncture, and the two teams flip-flopped the final nine touchdowns of the game. Both coaches — Blue Springs' Kelly Donohoe and Lee's Summit West's Royce Boehm — told me after the game they've never coached a matchup with so much talent on the field at one time. That's high praise from a pair of coaches with two state titles each. Think about this: With Lee's Summit West in line for a potential move to Class 6 next season, this game could take on some added importance for years to come.
4. Grain Valley, Pleasant Hill under the radar
Only four weeks into the season, Grain Valley and Pleasant Hill have already topped their 2012 season win totals. Pleasant Hill, 4-0, is averaging 39 points per game only one season after it reached that total just once in 10 games. And I'd still argue the 3-1 start from Grain Valley is even more surprising. The Eagles have only eight seniors on the roster, but they've put together a three-game winning streak behind Jimmy Tucker's transition to the spread offense. Here's the best news: These two teams play each other Friday in the opening week of Missouri River Valley Conference play. Pleasant Hill will host the game. By the way, how tough is the Missouri River Valley Conference? Oak Grove is unbeaten, and traditional power Harrisonville is 3-1. Odessa and Excelsior Springs own the worst records in the six-team league, and they've each won twice in four weeks.
5. A week to remember
Just how good was this week of Friday night football in Missouri? Let's recap. We've already mentioned the Blue Springs-Lee's Summit West matchup, as well as Kearney's one-point win against Liberty North. There's plenty more. Winnetonka came back from double digits for the second straight week before holding on for a 38-34 win against Lee's Summit North. Raytown South wideout Dion Williams caught a 63-yard touchdown pass to give the Cardinals their first win of the season, a 26-24 comeback victory over St. Joseph Central. And don't forget the aforementioned Lee's Summit-Liberty ending