Playoff edition of Friday Night Touchdowns: High school highlights
The Blue Springs Wildcats walked onto their home football field Monday afternoon, and almost instantly coach Kelly Donohoe flipped on the play clock. For four days, the offense practiced with the clock running — a departure from their usual routine — as they enacted the game plan to face the No. 1-ranked team in Missouri.
On the road Friday, they transformed the practices into yet another state championship appearance.
The Wildcats dominated the line of scrimmage — and in turn chewed up the clock — to roll to a 35-21 victory Friday against No. 1 Christian Brothers College.
Blue Springs, 11-2, will meet Kirkwood for the Missouri Class 6 championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia. The Wildcats are aiming for their third big-class state title in the past five seasons.
“It gets a little tiring, but that’s our bread and butter right there,” Blue Springs junior lineman Daniel Parker said of the run game. “We don’t really care who’s in the backfield. We just wanna get anybody in the end zone as soon as we can.”
Blue Springs ran for 213 yards and three touchdowns Friday — including a nine-minute drive in the second half that senior quarterback Dylan Cowling capped with a 1-yard touchdown run to ice the game. The play was called specifically for Cowling, whose grandfather died 24 hours earlier after a battle with lung cancer.
“Towards the end, once I realized we were about to win, I thought about him,” Cowling said. “This football gave him a lot of joy while he was sick.”
Cowling took over the quarterback duties in the regular season finale after starter Chase Donohoe suffered a season-ending foot injury.
The men up front, on the other hand, have provided a repetitive storyline since the opening week, and it’s continued in the postseason. In four playoff victories, Blue Springs has rushed for 1,209 yards and 23 touchdowns.
“Our kids up front are just playing so well,” Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said. “We have the ability to pound the ball really good.”
For a team intent on winning the battle up front, the tone-setter arrived in a different manner. Blue Springs senior Tyree King returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. He was untouched.
Then, it was back to the game plan — no matter the situation. Blue Springs converted a fourth-and-1 rush on its own 9-yard line in the first quarter. Two drives later, it faked a punt on its own half of the field and ran the ball up the gut for a first down.
Junior Jaylen Ivey, whom Donohoe judged to be 80 percent healthy after a high ankle sprain, added two touchdowns on the ground.
In sum, Blue Springs handed CBC its first home loss since 2012 — a span of 28 games.
“We’re clicking on all cylinders as a team,” Donohoe said “It’s an awesome feeling. We feel like we’re peaking at the right time.”