Regrets? Raymore-Peculiar football coach Tom Kruse has a few, but he doesn’t regret the Panthers’ effort during what turned out to be their season finale.
Ray-Pec’s season ended Friday, Oct. 20, with a wild 37-30 double-overtime loss at Lee’s Summit West in the first round of the Class 6, District 4 playoffs.
As frustrating as that was, he was still pleased with the fight the Panthers showed gainst a team that beat them 41-7 during the third week of the season.
“When you go into a double-overtime game, there’s so many little things that make a difference,” Kruse said. “But we believed we were going to win. That’s one of those things, as a coach that’s all you can ask for. That’s how we competed and that’s how we played.”
Ray-Pec (2-8) rolled up 482 total yards of offense against West (8-2), including 292 passing yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Noah Durham.
Wide receiver Luke Grimm caught all three TDs and finished with 118 receiving yards, while running back Chris McKinzy rushed for 95 yards.
But the Panthers’ defense gave up 499 totals yards and Kruse’s squad tallied a whopping 155 yards in penalties — costly penalties.
On their second possession of the game, Ray-Pec drove 79 yards to the West 1-yard line before penalties backed them up and kept them from scoring.
“Going into that football game, we knew we had to be mistake-free for the most part,” Kruse said. “What’s frustrating is that second series, we’ve got first-and-goal at the 1 and we get no points from it.”
It became more frustrating as the Panthers continued to move the ball and make a close game of it.
Durham’s first TD pass to Grimm, a 12-yarder in the second quarter, cut the Titans’ lead to 10-7.
Gabe Sappington’s 25-yard field goal just before halftime made it 17-10.
After West fumbled the second half’s short opening kickoff, Ray-Pec tied the score with Durham’s 13-yard TD pass to Grimm.
The Titans untied the game on the next snap from scrimmage, when running back Phillip Brooks sprinted 65 yards for a touchdown, but the Panthers quickly answered with a 60-yard pass from Durham to McKinzy that set up a 15-yard scoring strike to Grimm.
“Our kids believed they could get it done and they kept battling,” Kruse said.
The battle continued into overtime after West kicker Mykal Wiley missed a 32-yard field goal attempt with 8.6 seconds left in regulation.
Ray-Pec had the first possession in overtime and scored on a 1-yard sneak by Durham, but a bad snap thwarted the extra-point. West scored on its possession but also missed the PAT.
After West scored to start the second overtime, Ray-Pec drove to the 7-yard line before three straight penalties pushed the Panthers back to the 37. The Panthers got back to the 11, but Durham’s fourth-down pass was picked off in the end zone by West strong safety Jake Grauberger.
“They just made plays down the stretch in that second overtime,” Kruse said. “We had a couple of penalties back us up, but our kids kept competing and gave us a shot there at the end to tie it up.”
The loss ended a disappointing season for Ray-Pec, which was expected to contend for the Suburban Gold Conference title and make a playoff push, but Kruse still sees a bright future for the program.
“It was a tough one to end on,” he said. “I’m proud of the seniors for the way they continued to battle as a group. They’ve kind of set us up for things down the road and we’re going to get this thing back on track.”