Blue Valley West’s offensive strategy crystallized about midway through the second quarter of Friday night’s Kansas Class 6A second-round playoff game against Shawnee Mission Northwest.
The ball was going to fly in the direction of senior wide receiver David Brown. And since Shawnee Mission Northwest wasn’t willing to commit at least three defenders — and perhaps a golf cart — to stopping Brown, there wasn’t much it could do about it.
Brown utilized his entire skill set in a second quarter to remember, hauling in three touchdown passes and serving as the catalyst for the Jaguars’ 42-29 road victory at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
“It’s the playoffs. It’s time to ball out. We’ve got to go win the state championship, so we came to play,” Brown said. “They were taking the run away, so it was like, ‘Throw it to me, and I got you. Let’s go.’”
Brown won a couple state track and field championships earlier this year, and those skills were on display Friday. His first touchdown pass from Greg Riddle was good for 20 yards, and he simply beat his man to the back of the end zone.
The second touchdown covered 37 yards, and Brown drug a would-be tackler the final 5 yards into the end zone. His final touchdown catch of the second quarter was good for 63 yards and might have been the most impressive.
Brown shook off one defender who was trying to push him out of bounds. Then from almost a standstill, he sprinted the final 40 yards down the near sideline, pulling away from Shawnee Mission Northwest tacklers who had a running start. He finished the first half with 229 receiving yards, and 245 for the game.
It was a breakthrough performance in what’s otherwise been a slower season. Brown’s talents are no secret at this point, and opposing defense made sure to know where he was at all times.
“He’s a great, great receiver, and he hasn’t had the year I think we kind of expected him to,” Blue Valley West coach Josh Koerkenmeier said. “Teams have done a really good job of taking him away. They made a decision to really defense our run game, and David just had an unbelievable game today. We knew by the coverage they were playing they were going to let David make some plays, and he made them.”
Brown helped put the game away in the third quarter, corralling his fourth touchdown pass from 23 yards after working himself free on a scramble drill.
The passing game was effective because Blue Valley West (7-3) achieved balance with its hurry-up offense. Senior running back Riley Cummings scored the Jaguars’ first touchdown of the game. He kept the chains moving and kept the Shawnee Mission Northwest defense from dropping more defenders in coverage.
The Cougars (7-3) got off to a blistering start when Ty Black found Ty Lindenman for a 54-yard score on the first play of the game. Shawnee Mission Northwest ultimately couldn’t match the Jaguars’ consistency, and both of its turnovers turned into Blue Valley West touchdowns.
Blue Valley West is now in uncharted territory with next week’s 6A quarterfinal against Olathe North, which beat Wyandotte 56-13 on Friday.
Last week marked the Jaguars’ first playoff victory since 2013, and they didn’t leave the field on Friday until posing with their newest addition to the trophy case.
The trophies get bigger and the games get tougher for what’s left of the season.
“Our kids have worked so hard for this, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. They deserve it,” Koerkenmeier said.