The Blue Valley football team’s goal this week has been to keep getting better.
Though they have the second-best rushing offense in the Eastern Kansas League and the top scoring defense, head coach Eric Driskell said it’s all about who can continue improving once the state tournament hits.
“The teams that keep getting better and keep focusing on getting better and not being satisfied with where they are at are the ones that make deep runs in the playoffs,” Driskell said. “We hope to continue and get another opportunity next week.”
First, they’ll have to stop undefeated Mill Valley which they play host to Friday night at 7 in the sectional round of the Kansas Class 5A state football tournament.
The Tigers, 7-3, finished the regular season on a bad note, losing to rival Blue Valley West on a last-second field goal. They bounced back, however, with a strong performance against Shawnee Heights in regionals with a 42-14 victory.
The Tigers, though, will have their hands full against Mill Valley. The Jaguars are 10-0 and fresh off a 38-6 victory against St. Thomas Aquinas. It was the sixth game this season that Mill Valley won by 30 points or more. Senior linebacker Micah Clarke had two interceptions for Mill Valley against St. Thomas Aquinas, including one he returned for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“They are very impressive,” Driskell said. “They are big, they’re physical and they’re fast. They do a lot of things well. It’s going to take our best effort.”
The Blue Valley defense has been impressive too, holding opponents to a stingy 14.5 points per game and 323.1 yards of total offense per contest.
“Everyone is trying to get to the ball, and everyone wants to get to the ball,” senior middle linebacker Joe Forlenza said. “Everyone puts the extra effort in running to the ball, and as long as everyone wants to get to the ball we are going to get there eventually.”
Offensively, the Tigers heavily favor the run game where they have averaged 271.7 yards per game. A big chunk of that ground work comes from senior running back Chance Nelson, who ranked second in the Eastern Kansas League with 144.8 rushing yards per game, along with 17 touchdowns. This past week, he ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Logan Brettell.
“Our guys up front are really good,” Driskell said. “Our line has done a great job and then our quarterback and both running backs have done a great job of running the ball when they’ve got holes.”
Brettell has also contributed in the run game with two 100-plus yard rushing performances while averaging 129.9 passing yards per game with 14 touchdowns. Brettell is also quick to credit the offensive line with the success of the running attack.
“Chance and I get a lot of credit for that, but the offensive line really makes that happen, and I appreciate it,” Brettell said.