A ruthless run through the postseason ended for the Trojans in a Class 5 quarterfinal Friday, Nov. 13 at Park Hill District Stadium. After knocking out a pair of ranked opponents to finish off the District 8 bracket, Park Hill trailed from the outset and didn’t recover in a 42-10 loss to No. 2-ranked Fort Osage, ending the Trojans’ hopes of a repeat trip to the semifinals.
Ranked No. 4 in the final regular season poll, Park Hill saw an 11-game win streak come to an end a week after knocking out No. 1 Staley.
“You can’t get in a hole against a great football team like Fort Osage,” Park Hill coach Josh Hood said. “It’s a team who knows how to win. They started better than us. We got beat in all phases of the game in the first quarter. That’s not like Park Hill. That’s not what we’ve done. That wasn’t us there in the first half.”
Fort Osage senior standout quarterback Skylar Thompson scored on a 27-yard run to open the game, and the dual-threat Kansas State commit produced five more touchdowns, helping the Indians reverse the result of last year’s quarterfinal between the same two teams. Park Hill won 21-20 a year ago after a missed field goal in the closing seconds.
With a majorly retooled roster, Park Hill (11-2) lost this season’s opener to Blue Springs South but steadily improved throughout the schedule while sophomores in key spots gained experience.
The Trojans won the Suburban Conference Red Division title before making it back to the playoffs for a second straight season. Fort Osage finally found the combination to to stop them, limiting Park Hill to just 26 yards of offense in the first quarter while building a 14-0 lead.
Park Hill didn’t pick up a first down until the final play of the first quarter, while Fort Osage went 5-for-5 on third downs and gained seven first downs total.
“We failed to make a few plays,” Hood said. “We just didn’t win some of those battles. We got beat up front there for the first time. We were unable to make the plays on the edge in the first half, and we dug ourselves too big of a hole.”
Park Hill found some defensive traction in the second quarter after junior kicker Parker Sampson put the Trojans on the board with a 33-yard field goal early in the period. The defense forced its first punt after seniors Aiden Byrd and Dalton sacked Thomas on first and third downs, respectively.
The stops were limited after that point, and Fort Osage slowly increased its lead to 28-3 and eventually to 42-10.
“They couldn’t do anything to stop me and Dalton,” Byrd said. “Every time we came off the same side we were getting there. They couldn’t stop it. It’s tough, but all of us here are going to be able to go on and do better things in life.”
After trading punts in the second quarter, Thompson found Bailey Williamson on a 33-yard touchdown to beat a jailbreak blitz with 2 minutes, 15 seconds remaining until the half.
Park Hill trailed 21-3 at halftime, and sophomore quarterback Billy Maples’ 6-yard scoring pass to Kentrez Bell in the third quarter briefly cut the deficit to 28-10. Maples finished 17-of-26 for 166 yards but finished off a standout first season as a starter unable to keep up with Thompson and the high-powered Indians.
Thompson (322 total yards) ended up throwing for three scores and running for three more, helping Fort Osage put up the most points scored against the Park Hill defense this season.
“It was tough,” Byrd said. “He was passing. He was running. We practiced all week, and we knew he was a great player. He showed up. We showed up. They just got the end of it. They just had big plays. We had mistakes. We made big plays too, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Bell, a senior, finished with nine catches for 66 yards, but the Trojans managed only 51 yards on the ground.
Maples along with sophomore receivers Ronnie Bell and DJ Johnson and sophomore running back Dorian Clayton each grew into larger-than expected roles in the season with the loss of returning all-state running back Matt Harris to a knee injury in the Trojans’ preseason jamboree. On the defensive side, standout junior defensive end Chester Graves — one of the top 2017 recruits in the state — anchored the defense, setting the school record with 38 tackles for loss this season, while junior middle linebacker Seven Wilson set a school record for tackles at more than 150.
Devin Haney and Liam Henry — both sophomores — helped anchor the defensive backfield, combining for five picks.