Park Hill football locks up at least share of division title

Park Hill trailed at halftime for the first time this season Oct. 9 at Noyes Field in St. Joseph, Mo. The Trojans stormed out after the break and scored the game’s final 35 points in a come-from-behind 41-7 blowout road win against St. Joseph Central. Park Hill also clinched at least a share of the Suburban League Red Division crown with the undefeated Trojans (8-0, 4-0 Red Division) preparing for the final game of the regular season at home vs. Truman (5-3, 3-1).

A win would clinch the title outright for Park Hill — a feat not accomplished since 2009 before a run of four straight titles from Lee’s Summit West, which went 20-0 in Red Division play for four seasons before moving up to the Gold Division this season. Park Hill is already all but guaranteed a first-round bye when Class 5 District 8 play begins next week. The Trojans lead second-place Staley (6-2) by 8.2 points for the top spot.

In the win against Central, Park Hill freshman running back Dorian Clayton started the scoring on a 1-yard dive into the end zone in the first quarter, but the extra point from Parker Sampson was no good. The miss allowed the Indians to take a 7-6 lead with a successful PAT after a 26-yard pass touchdown pass from quarterback Jacob Hess to wide receiver Gage Stagner with 10 minutes, 48 seconds to play in the second quarter.

The teams traded punts for the rest of the quarter, allowing the Indians, who entered at 2-5 off of back-to-back wins, to maintain a surprise lead at halftime.

Park Hill took the lead for good on a 2-yard run from junior running back Matt Harris with 7:04 to go in the third quarter. Harris finished with team-highs of 147 yards on 30 carries, marking the third time he has cracked the century mark on the ground after taking more of the load when senior standout Kenyatte Harris picked up a bone bruise in a Week 5 win against Park Hill South. Clayton added his second score on the second play of the fourth quarter — another 1-yard plunge — to help the Trojans score 29 points in the final 12 minutes.

Park Hill blocked two punts in the final quarter to help set up the easy scores.

Trevor White recovered the first block at the Central 10-yard line, and two plays later, senior quarterback Tyler Holmes found Kyle Francis with a touchdown pass. The Trojans also blocked Austin Jackson’s next punt, which bounced out of the end zone for a safety.

Clayton added his third and final score on a 28-yard scamper to push the lead to 34-7 six plays after the safety. Clayton finished with a career-high 94 yards on 14 carries with Kenyatte Harris inactive for a third straight week.

Park Hill South 49, Ruskin 0

Panthers senior quarterback Shaefer Schuetz returned to form with a massive showing in a win against Suburban League Red Division cellar-dwellers Ruskin (1-7, 0-4). He tossed six touchdown passes to four different receivers helping Park Hill South win for the second time in three games.

Schuetz finished with 326 yards passing on 13-of-16 accuracy.

Alfoncio Rand (78 and 39 yards), Mitch Henderson (29 and 10), Tanner McClaran (32) and Dillon Thomas (15) all hauled in long TD tosses from Schuetz in his career-best performance.

Park Hill South (3-5, 2-2) also tallied its first shutout of the season after posting two a year ago, which also saw the first occur in Week 8. The Panthers’ 49 points were also a season high entering their final at St. Joseph Central on Oct. 17.

A win could help Park Hill South finish no worse than third in the six-team division after suffering through a four-game losing streak earlier this season. The Panthers currently own the No. 4 seed in Class 5 District 8’s seven-team bracket, now with a 5.8-point lead in the standings over Oak Park (3-5).