High School Sports

Park Hill takes down Lee’s Summit West in football opener

Park Hill quarterback Anthony Hall throws off balance trying to find a target in the end zone against Lee’s Summit West in the first game of the year Friday night at Park Hill.
Park Hill quarterback Anthony Hall throws off balance trying to find a target in the end zone against Lee’s Summit West in the first game of the year Friday night at Park Hill. Special to The Star

Park Hill quarterback Anthony Hall had wide receiver Jaylin Noel open, streaking down the right hash early in the second quarter of Friday’s season opener against Lee’s Summit West.

We’re talking wide open. Noel could’ve enjoyed a light jog to the end zone, or maybe stopped for a quick swig of water.

Anyway, Noel was open ... and Hall just missed him by maybe a yard.

It was worth another shot, and the opportunity didn’t go unnoticed by the Park Hill coaching staff.

“We wanted to get back to it,” Noel said with a big smile.

Hill and Noel connected two plays later, the catalyst for Park Hill’s 19-6 victory over the Titans at Park Hill District Stadium on a gorgeous evening.

When Hall and Noel did link up, it was good for a 54-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the second quarter. It was also the culmination of a few years of practice, dating back to elementary school.

“It was great. I’ve been playing with Anthony since fourth grade, and we finally got to connect on that one. When I heard the play (being called again), I was like ‘Yeah! For sure, for sure!’”

Park Hill (1-0) missed two prime chances for touchdowns in the first quarter. An illegal-formation penalty wiped out a long run on the game’s first possession. Their next possession spanned 14 plays and ate up almost half of the first quarter. But Park Hill came up empty when Evan Samborski couldn’t corral a would-be touchdown pass from 5 yards out on fourth down.

Hall and Noel made sure that the next scoring opportunity didn’t pass Park Hill by. Noel added a second touchdown just before halftime, scooting in from the 3-yard line on a jet sweep.

The Lee’s Summit West offense finally came to life midway through the third quarter. The Titans tore off large chunks of the field to get within sight of the Park Hill end zone. Quarterback Sammy Cooper finally punched the ball in on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to get the Titans on the board and pull them within 12-6.

As it turned out, that was the high point of the evening for Lee’s Summit West.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, and Park Hill used the excellent field position to respond. Hall found Noel for a crucial fourth-down conversion to keep the drive alive. Senior running back Darion Neal finished the drive on the first play of the fourth quarter, pounding the ball in from 7 yards out.

The Trojans dominated the first half, running 49 plays, to 21 for Lee’s Summit West. Half of that was the Trojan offense’s ability to sustain drives and pressure with their no-huddle offense.

The other half was the stingy Park Hill defense.

Lee’s Summit West looked like it might take the lead in the second quarter after Shane Fredrickson’s interception gave the Titans the ball deep in Trojan territory.

The Park Hill defense responded two plays later with an interception of its own, courtesy of senior Javion Gathrite. That was Lee’s Summit West’s only legitimate scoring opportunity of the first half. The Trojan defense forced four turnovers on the night.

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