Park Hill football overcomes early deficit, stays unbeaten

Park Hill faced its first deficit of the season Sept. 12 at Greene Stadium on the campus of William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. against the host Blue Jays. Liberty quarterback A.J. Cambric found wide receiver Kyle Tomc on a 13-yard pass play for a touchdown 7 minutes into the first quarter for a touchdown. The lead didn’t last long.

Park Hill’s Kenyatte Harris scored two quick touchdowns to put the Trojans ahead for good on the way to a 38-14 victory, giving them their first 4-0 start in more than a decade.

“I thought we did an outstanding job of handling our first real adversity of the season,” Park Hill coach Josh Hood said. “We did not play up to our expectations in the first half but were able to approach the second half with the right mentality to pull away from a good Liberty team.”

Tomc’s score put Liberty ahead 7-3 after Park Hill opened the scoring on Parker Sampson’s 40-yard field goal earlier in the opening quarter. Harris’ first touchdown came less than 2 minutes after Liberty’s opening salvo, a 25-yard run to put the Trojans up 10-7. He extended the lead with 9½ minutes to play in the first half with his 14th touchdown of the season.

Harris finished with 304 yards rushing – a career-high for a single game – on 34 carries.

In all, Park Hill scored five times on the ground. Running back Dorian Clayton added a 1-yarder, and senior quarterback went in on runs of 33 and 9 yards. Holmes’ longer jaunt capped a 7-minute drive to open the second half.

“The offensive line allowed us to grind the ball out all throughout the game,” Hood said. “Any time you have a kid run for 300 yards and then put together a 7-minute second half drive without him in the game, you know you are winning in the trenches.”

Park Hill did not allow any points after halftime, winning the overall time of possession battle with more than 38 minutes in control of the ball. Holmes attempted just 10 passes, completing four.

Park Hill, which moved up to No. 9 in the most recent Class 5 media state poll from No. 10, won its Suburban League Red Division opener and continues conference play Sept. 19 when the Trojans host Park Hill South at Preston Field at Park Hill District Stadium, the schools’ shared home. The Panthers won each of last year’s matchup in the series in back-to-back weeks – first in the regular season and then in the opening round of Class 5 District 8 play.

Since 2004, Park Hill has won 6 of 11 meetings, but Park Hill South has won the past four straight dating back to 2011.

“This rivalry week is always met with much anticipation in this area,” Hood said. “I know they have a quality quarterback that likes to get out of the pocket and throw the football. We know we will see the best game Park Hill South will play all year regardless of their record on Friday night and that is undoubtedly how we will prepare this week.”

Park Hill won only three games all of last season during an injury-plagued season that featured Harris out for most of the year. He returned to play sparingly in the second loss to Park Hill South.