Football was reduced to its essence on Friday night at Park Hill District Stadium: a ball spinning in the air down the left sideline into the end zone, and the result of a top-10 high school slugfest hinging on what would happen when that ball came down.
“There’s no feeling like it,” Park Hill senior defensive back Devin Haney said. “That’s the moment of truth. That’s where the great players shine.”
Haney came down with the interception, sealing the Trojans’ 28-25 victory over No. 3 Blue Springs.
“I pride myself on being a great player, and I wanted to make a play.”
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It didn’t come a moment too soon for the No. 2 Trojans. Park Hill (4-0) led throughout on Friday, but simply could not put away Blue Springs (2-2).
The Wildcats’ last-minute drive was jump-started when Park Hill lost 12 yards on its attempt to pick up one last first down and kill the clock.
Then Blue Springs got as far as the Park Hill 26 before Haney stepped up and ended the game.
“I’m guarding a hell of a receiver in Tre Wheaton. We made an adjustment on that last play,” Haney said. “We ended up going from press (coverage) to off, baiting him to throw the fade. I just went up and got it.”
Park Hill put up video-game like numbers in its first three games of the season. Quarterback Billy Maples came into Friday with 18 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 passing yards to his credit.
But the Trojans were forced to grind early on Friday, and Park Hill coach Josh Hood’s team was up to the challenge.
“They brought us in, and we played a little more of their game. It’s nice to see our football team can play at a little bit different tempo,” Hood said. “But I was proud of the kids and their execution tonight.”
Maples added three more touchdowns, but threw for just 122 yards — and only 7 after halftime. Senior running back Dorian Clayton picked up the slack, running for 112 yards on 29 carries for Park Hill.
Blue Springs couldn’t muster any consistent offense in the second half, but kept in the game with a handful of big plays. Quarterback Chase Donohoe threw for 209 yards in the loss.
Park Hill is a newcomer to the top of Missouri Class 6, and knows the road to the ultimate goal — a state title — could involve another matchup with Blue Springs at some point.
“It’s a great win over a storied program,” Hood said. “We just hope to see them again down the road.”