In the fall of 1983, Harrisonville High School quarterback Kelly Donohoe joined his teammates on the Busch Stadium field in St. Louis as they implemented the final preparations for a state-championship game. Before he departed the turf, Donohoe stumbled across Rockhurst coach Tony Severino, who was assembling his players for a title game in a different classification.
“I was always a football junkie, even back in high school, so I knew all about Tony Severino,” said Donohoe, now the Blue Springs High School coach. “So I stopped behind his huddle and just listened to him talk to his team.”
As it turned out, the happenstance encounter marked the first of many meetings.
Some 33 years later, Donohoe and Severino remain connected by the game — the opposing coaches in arguably the top football rivalry in Kansas City.
In the latest chapter on Friday, Donohoe utilized his workhorse running back to hand Rockhurst its first loss.
Wildcats junior Jaylen Ivey ran for two first-half touchdowns, lifting Blue Springs to a 24-7 victory at Rockhurst High School’s Dasta Memorial Stadium.
Blue Springs, 5-1, built a 17-0 lead before halftime — aided by three Rockhurst turnovers and two Ivey touchdowns. With Blue Springs absent two of its backup running backs, Ivey carried the ball 36 times.
“My cousin played at Rockhurst, so I had to listen to him talk trash to me all week,” Ivey said with a smile. “It was a fun game, and was a great rivalry to play in.”
A week after forcing six turnovers in a win against Shawnee Mission East, Rockhurst, 5-1, fell on the opposite end of that battle Friday, turning the ball over five times.
That storyline halted any potential momentum Rockhurst attempted to garner from its only score of the game — a 9-yard touchdown run from junior tailback Brady McCanles. The Hawklets trailed 17-7 late in the third quarter after McCanles crossed over the goal line, but they fumbled on their next possession and threw an interception on the following one.
“Turnovers. It’s always the name of the game,” Severino said. “You saw it last week. You saw it plague us this week. Part of football.”
If history provided any indication, it may not be the Hawklets’ final chance this season against their rivals. In 11 of the past 16 seasons, the teams have met twice — once in the regular season and once more in the playoffs.
In their past seven playoff meetings, the regular season victor is only 4-3 in the postseason rematch.
If the two teams meet in the 2016 postseason, it would come in the Missouri Class 6 championship game after some district shakeups placed them on opposite sides of the bracket for the first time.
“I used to tell my team that we don’t necessarily have to win the first game,” Severino said. “But we have to do enough to convince ourselves we can win the second one.”