KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Park Hill linebacker Clayton Cole took advantage of two rare opportunities last Friday, picking off a pair of passes from Lee’s Summit quarterback Drew Lock. A senior bound to play next year at the University of Missouri, Lock had only thrown one pick in his first seven games. Cole’s two interceptions both came late and helped the Trojans remain unbeaten in a 44-33 win at Park Hill District Stadium.
The first seemingly sealed the minor upset of the Class 6-ranked Tigers and the second left no doubt.
“I stood up and looked at the crowd,” Cole said. “Everyone was going crazy. I can’t explain the feeling. It’s great. This was the toughest challenge we’ve had all year on defense. It’s going to help us in the long run.”
Park Hill improved to 7-0 — the team’s best start in more than two decades — and the Trojans moved up one spot to No. 6 in the most recent Class 5 media state rankings. They are one of four unbeaten teams left in that classification.
Providing easily the biggest test so far for Park Hill, Lock finished with 334 yards through the air on 30-for-50 passing attempts with three touchdowns but couldn’t engineer a last-minute comeback.
“That guy is outstanding,” Park Hill coach Josh Hood said. “Drew Lock is an outstanding quarterback. He’s as good as we’re going to see for a long time. I give credit to our twos and threes. They won this football game for us. They gave our defense a look all week long. We were in the right position nearly every time.”
As good as the Tigers were through the air, Park Hill equaled the effort on the ground.
Trojans junior running back Matt Harris pounded out 238 yards on the ground on 35 carries with senior standout Kenyatte Harris, who missed a second straight week with a bone bruise in his leg suffered in a Week 5 win vs. Park Hill South. Park Hill senior quarterback Tyler Holmes added another 123 on eight tries.
Matt Harris now has a pair of 100-yard efforts while filling in.
“One of us has to step up,” Matt Harris said. “Every back has to step up. That’s how we do it. Every back is just the same as the other ones. This is a big win right here. This was supposed to be a fluke game for us. The Kansas City Star thought we were a fluke, but we came out and performed how we thought we would.”
A 72-yard scamper on the game’s opening drive from Matt Harris set up Holmes’ 4-yard touchdown three plays later — the first of his three scores, which gave Park Hill an early 6-0 lead. Lee’s Summit answered on Zach Mitchell’s 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown – one of three scores for the junior wide receiver.
Park Hill went three-and-out on the next drive and punted, but Lock lost a fumble on the Tigers’ first offensive play. Trojans sophomore defensive end Chester Graves recovered and returned it to the 22-yard line.
Matt Harris opened his scoring account three plays later on a 1-yard plunge.
Holmes final touchdown — a 35-yard run on a broken play — put the Trojans ahead 44-27 with 6 minutes, 10 seconds left. Park Hill led by as many as 18 points, and Holmes set a season-high in rushing yards. Hood featured him more after the recent return of the Trojans’ backup quarterback Jeremiah Benson, who suffered an injury in a Week 2 win against Smithville.
Cole’s two interceptions came right after Lee’s Summit’s final touchdown cut the deficit to 11 points. In between, Holmes threw an ill-advised interception the Tigers returned into the end zone. That play and a subsequent touchdown pass from Lock were both called back on hold before Cole’s pick with just more than a minute left ended the tumultuous sequence.
Park Hill travels to play St. Joseph Central with a chance to earn at least a share of the Suburban League Red Division title. The Trojans haven’t won a conference title since 2009 when they finished 9-2 with a Class 5 sectional loss to eventual state runner-up Fort Osage.
Liberty 24, Park Hill South 21
An interception for the Blue Jays’ David Dilanardo with less than 2 minutes to play ended Park Hill South’s potential wild comeback attempt last Friday at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.
The senior collected a tipped ball from Panthers senior quarterback Shaefer Schuetz to give the ball back to Liberty, and a first down run from Devon Bryant allowed the Blue Jays to run out the remainder of the clock in their first victory of the season. Park Hill South drops to 2-5 with the loss, after entering with a chance to earn back-to-back wins.
Schuetz finished with 155 yards on 16-of-23 passing attempts. His fourth-quarter 17-yard touchdown pass closed Park Hill South to within 10. Running back Derrick Cook provided a 10-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes to go for the game’s final score.
Liberty opened the game scoring the first 24 points. the Panthers answered with 21 unanswered of their own.
Park Hill South safety Jake Saylor started the scoring for the Panthers on an interception return midway through the third quarter — their lone takeaway. Liberty collected four turnovers — two fumbles and two picks — and took full advantage of the miscues.
Park Hill South hosts Ruskin (1-6) looking to get back on the winning track Friday with the start of district play looming. The Panthers currently hold the No. 4 spot in the seven-team Class 5 District 8 standings with Central, Liberty and Oak Park chasing.