Maples-Bell connection leads Park Hill football to 6th straight win

Park Hill leaned on its sophomore quarterback to find a winning score and avoid overtime against a Class 6 foe last week. After letting an early lead slip away, Billy Maples hit senior wide receiver Kentrez Bell with a screen pass that resulted in a 47-yard touchdown with 2 minutes, 44 seconds to play Friday, Oct. 2 at Lee’s Summit High School in Lee’s Summit Mo. The Trojans held after the go-ahead score for a 41-34 win — their sixth straight since losing to Blue Springs South in the season opener.

Park Hill (6-1) remained at No. 5 in the most recent Missouri media Class 5 poll, and the Trojans continue to sit second in the latest Class 5 District 8 standings with 45.17 points — three points behind No. 1 Staley, who came in at No. 3 in the state rankings this week. The Falcons’ lone loss came in overtime to Class 5 No. 1 Fort Osage.

In the final two weeks of the season, Park Hill finishes its Suburban League Red Division slate, hosting St. Joseph Central this week and traveling to Truman in the regular season finale. The Trojans are 3-0 and seeking a second straight undefeated Red Division crown.

In the last break from league play, Maples finished with 227 yards on 22-of-31 accuracy against Lee’s Summit (3-4), a top-tier Class 6 team last year that has lost three straight and four of five. Bell not only created the winning touchdown but finished with season- and team-highs of 10 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

Overall, Park Hill ended up outgaining the Tigers by just 56 yards despite taking a 28-14 lead into halftime that extended to 31-14 early in the second half on the first of two field goals for Parker Sampson.

Zach Neal, a senior running back who eclipsed the 100-yard mark rushing for the third time this season (127 yards on 24 carries), started the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown early in the first quarter.

Lee’s Summit quickly answered, and Park Hill scored 14 straight to end the first quarter — an 8-yard pass to Bell and a 5-yard connection between Maples and junior Quenton Harris, who finished with just three catches for 13 yards. The Trojans held the lead until late in the fourth quarter when Lee’s Summit scored a tying touchdown with 3:31 to play.

Less than a minute later, Park Hill scored the winning touchdown.

Park Hill’s final two games carry a lot of importance. Central owns a 2-1 record in Red Division play and the No. 4 spot in the most recent District 8 standings. Truman could potentially earn a share or all of the conference crown by beating the Trojans in Week 9, having already moved to 4-0 in Red Division play.

Liberty 30, Park Hill South 14

The Blue Jays scored the final 13 points Friday, Oct. 2 at Park Hill District Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. to pull away for a victory in a battle of winless teams. Liberty earned its first win and moved into fifth in the District 8 standings, while Park Hill South (0-7) sits in sixth out of seven teams, just in front of winless Oak Park.

Park Hill South never led, but running back Emanual Butler scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter tie it at 7-7. Liberty scored the next 10 points, and Panthers junior standout Dillon Thomas hauled in a 67-yard touchdown to close the gap to three — the final points for the hosts on homecoming.

Liberty sophomore running back Robert Rawrie hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Ryan Potts (13 of 22, 222 yards) to put the Blue Jays ahead 24-14 at halftime. The defense pitched a shutout in the second half, while scoring once to win by two possessions.

Park Hill South gained 224 yards of offense to the Blue Jays’ 400.

On Friday, Oct. 9, Park Hill South can earn its first win overall and in conference play with a trip to winless Ruskin. The Panthers close the regular season at home against Central the following week.