High School Sports

Blue Springs defense turns things around in victory over Lee’s Summit West

Blue Springs running back Michael Warmack picked up yardage Friday against Lee’s Summit West.
Blue Springs running back Michael Warmack picked up yardage Friday against Lee’s Summit West. jledford@kcstar.com

The drive lasted nine plays, and by the time it was finished, Lee’s Summit West had covered 91 yards and vaulted into the end zone on a 1-yard scamper.

But the significance of the story was on the opposing sideline. A week after giving up 45 points, Blue Springs’ allowance of an opening-drive touchdown was a sign of more of the same.

The final quarter displayed a vital change.

Blue Springs held Lee’s Summit West scoreless over its final three drives, propelling the Wildcats to a 21-20 victory in Suburban Gold Conference play Friday.

A botched snap on an extra point stood as the difference.

“We knew last week was poor. We knew that,” said Blue Springs defensive back Stephen Benson, who intercepted a pass to set up a first-half touchdown. “We take more pride as defensive backs than that.”

For five days the Blue Springs coaching staff drilled into the secondary to shake its early-season nerves. Wildcats head coach Kelly Donohoe called his defensive backs “timid” during its opener against Lee’s Summit, a 58-45 victory. On a team with state championship aspirations, the secondary represents the most inexperienced group.

Those defensive backs grew up Friday.

On the Titans’ initial drive of the fourth quarter, Blue Springs forced an incomplete pass on a fourth-down play. On the next West drive, it forced a punt after a pair of incomplete passes. On the final drive, it was more misfires.

“We knew we were good there, but we just had some first-game jitters,” Donohoe said. “Tonight they got up tighter on the guys, and I think our confidence really grew.”

It’s a group that has put in time to find more cohesion, Benson said, and the efforts paid dividends, despite the absence of a starter Friday.

“This was another chance for us,” Benson said. “It was film, film, film every day. We worked every day for it.”

The offense took care of the heavy-lifting in the first half, with Wildcats quarterback Chase Donohoe lofting touchdown passes to Tyree King and Tanner Taula. Michael Warmack added a three-yard touchdown run.

Lee’s Summit West senior Zach Shanholtzer scored twice — once on a run and once on a pass from Cole Taylor.

A week after Blue Springs tailback Jaylen Ivey ran for seven touchdowns, the Lee’s Summit West defense kept him out of the end zone. Ivey was ejected on the final play for kicking a Lee’s Summit West defender. He will be forced to serve a mandatory suspension of at least one game, per Missouri State High School Activities Association rules.