In his mind, Park Hill quarterback Billy Maples saw himself having game like this someday – a chuck it down the field, video game-like numbers type of a night.
That game came for Maples last Friday night when Park Hill played host to Lee’s Summit in a Suburban Gold Conference matchup. Maples threw nine touchdown passes – all but one in the first half - and led the Trojans to a 66-35 victory.
The nine touchdowns set a new state record, eclipsing the old mark of eight that was reached three times. And according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, his eight first-half TDs tied a national record held by two other quarterbacks.
“When I was little I always dreamed of it,” Maples said about his big night. “Now that I’ve had it, it’s awesome.”
Maples’ record-setting performance overshadowed what turned out to be a stellar night for Lee’s Summit quarterback Darrias Pearsall. In the second start of his high-school career, the sophomore completed 17 of 27 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those TD throws went to wide receiver Somaj Brewer, who gained 127 yards on five catches.
It just wouldn’t be enough to catch Maples, who started throwing TD passes early and often.
Maples needed only three plays to get his first score – a 12-yard toss to wide receiver D.J. Johnson. He threw a one-yard pass across the end zone to Johnson on Park Hill’s next possession and added another one on a 26-yard strike to Ronnie Bell one play after Lee’s Summit fumbled the ensuing kickoff.
Lee’s Summit answered with a 26-yard TD pass from Pearsall to Brewer after a nice drive for the first of his four TD passes, but Maples went to the air again.
Johnson slipped a defender downfield for a 60-yard score on Park Hill’s next possession. Then came a nifty 24-yard lob to Bell, a 26-yard strike to Bell after a bad snap on a Lee’s Summit punt and another four-yarder to Bell.
Pearsall hit Brewer for an 80-yard bomb and a 10-yarder just before halftime, but Lee’s Summit was deep in a 56-21 hole.
“It just took off,” said Maples, who finished with 434 yards on 26-for-36 passing. “We weren’t expecting anything like this. It was really fun.”
Lee’s Summit climbed back somewhat, closing within 56-35 in the third quarter with a 16-yard TD pass from Pearsall to Mitchell Tinsley and a 1-yard TD run by Preston Whitworth one play after an 84-yard shovel pass from Pearsall to tight end Spencer Parker. Whitworth finished with 123 rushing yards on 23 carries.
Johnson and Bell, who are both seniors, got in on most of the fun for Park Hill, with each making four TD catches in the first half. Bell finished with 205 yards on eight catches, while Johnson totaled 151 yards on 11 grabs.
But Maples has other targets, too, like junior Joe Webb, who snared the ninth TD catch in the fourth quarter, and juniors Payton Stanfield and Davis Suppes, who also made catches against Lee’s Summit.
“People forget I have four other guys, and then I have Bell and Johnson on top of that,” Maples said. “It’s awesome. I can’t ask for anything better.”
Neither could Park Hill coach Josh Hood. Hood said Maples’ big day was no accident but the result of hard work both in the film room and the practice field, both before and during the season.
“That kid’s done a wonderful job,” Hood said. “He’s broken every record that stands here at this school as far as throwing the football. He knew where they were going to be, he knew what he wanted to do. A lot of that is him making those calls and he did a great job.”