A fourth-quarter rally provided a spark that looked like it might lead to victory, but the Blue Valley High School football team came up a bit short in its quest to win the Kansas Class 6A state title on Saturday in Emporia.
The Tigers’ defense forced Derby to falter on a punt, then Blue Valley’s Colton McCumber connected on a touchdown pass to Taylor DeBey to pull the Tigers to within single digits. Blue Valley also blocked a field goal.
However, Derby held on and defeated Blue Valley 27-14 at Emporia State University’s Welch Stadium. The Tigers finished their season with a 10-3 record in the team’s second year at the Class 6A level.
“We were right in the mix in this football game, until the end,” Tigers coach Eric Driskell said. “I’m just proud of this group.”
A portion of Driskell’s pride comes from Blue Valley’s consistency, which was displayed by the team’s appearance in two state championship game in the last three seasons. Blue Valley won the Class 5A state title in 2013.
“They left a tremendous legacy,” Driskell said, referring to this year’s squad. “They taught the younger guys a lot of things. They are a great football team and they got beat by a great football team.”
Midway through the football season, Blue Valley looked like a long-shot to make it to the state title game.
The Tigers lost to Blue Valley North and St. Thomas Aquinas in back-to-back weeks. They regrouped and put together a dominant run, winning their next six games and advancing to the championship game. Blue Valley — during that streak — held all six opponents to 20 or fewer points and allowed just seven points twice.
Blue Valley was most successful in its running game, where the Tigers had two rushers gain more than 1,000 yards and another finish with 995. AJ Totta, who missed the state title game due to a knee injury, led the way with 1,165 yards in 180 carries. McCumber rushed for 1,051 yards and William Evans had 995. The three rushers also combined for 40 rushing touchdowns.
Gus Gomez provided some balance through the air, recording a team-best 699 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. DeBay ranked second in receiving yards, with 472 yards and eight touchdowns.