KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Park Hill just kept throwing, and when the night finished, the Trojans were left to enjoy a big victory that produced some record-setting performances.
Billy Maples, a third-year starter, threw for eight touchdowns in the first half and nine total in a 66-35 destruction of Lee’s Summit on Friday, Aug. 25 at Park Hill District Stadium. He tossed four each in the first half to seniors Ronnie Bell and DJ Johnson, who also enjoyed career nights.
But Maples played the star, tying a national record for touchdown passes in a half and setting a state record with nine in one game.
“It feels great to know that we can go out and put numbers up like this,” Maples said. “We always have to give love to the defense and scout players and especially my offensive line that only allowed one sack — on an accident, really.”
Maples posted his second straight career-best game to push Park Hill to 2-0, and the Trojans moved up one spot to No. 3 in the most recent Class 6 Missouri media rankings after scoring more than 100 points in their first two games of the season.
On the heels of a five-touchdown performance against Lee’s Summit North, Maples equaled that mark with 10 minutes, 7 seconds left in the second quarter and bettered it a minute and a half later.
Johnson, a senior and third-year starter, caught touchdown passes of 12, 1 and 60 yards in the first quarter — the last big play putting the Trojans ahead 28-7. Bell, who had one touchdown catch of 31 yards in a busy first quarter, added his second scoring reception and Maples’ fifth touchdown pass on a 24-yard gain to open the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Lee’s Summit attempted a fake punt, but Park Hill stopped the Tigers short. Shortly after, Maples hit Bell for a 25-yard touchdown to make it 42-7.
Lee’s Summit added its second and third passing touchdown before halftime in a late back-and-forth that saw Maples hit DJ Johnson for an 8-yard score and Bell with a 5-yard score. The Trojans were up 56-21 at halftime.
“I’m glad that he had a little bit of a coming out party,” Hood said. “I think he has done a lot of wonderful things the three years he has been here as a starter, and I think that’s going to continue. So the extra work he has put in behind the scenes, we really saw that tonight, and I was very, very happy that everyone else got to see that, too.”
Johnson ended up with career-highs of 11 catches, 159 yards and four touchdowns, while Bell’s four TD catches bettered the career-high of three he set in Week 1. While Johnson and Bell made the majority of the highlights, juniors Joe Webb (three catches), Payton Stanfield (two catches) and Davis Suppes (one catch) and freshman Jaylin Noel (one catch) also contributed to the Trojans’ record passing night.
Maples finished 26 of 36 for a career-high 437 yards along with the nine touchdowns. Previously, only three players in Missouri history had thrown for eight in a game, and only three times in history had a player anywhere thrown for eight in half, including future NFL quarterback Chris Redman doing it in back-to-back weeks in 1994.
“(Bell and Johnson) are awesome, but people forget that I have four other receivers,” Maples said. “It’s awesome having all those guys around me.”
Park Hill’s offense slowed after halftime.
Without senior running back Dorian Clayton, junior Corey Bradford led the Trojans with 91 yards on 11 carries, while Johnson showed his versatility with 59 yards on the ground on seven attempts. Maples threw his record-setting touchdown to Webb early in the fourth quarter, and Davin Dorrel added a 30-yard field goal for the final points as Park Hill impressively improved to 2-0 in Suburban Conference Gold Division play after suffering a Week 2 letdown against the same Tigers a year ago.
“In this conference, every night is a big night, and tonight was another big win,” Hood said. “That’s a testament to the preparation that these kids put in for the course of that week. That is what you saw in the first half and we got an opportunity in the second half to see a few things that we need to work on and against a wonderful team like Lee’s Summit; that’s a wonderful position to be in.”
Lee’s Summit quarterback Darrias Pearsall threw four touchdowns in an overshadowed performance in coach Eric Thomas’ traditionally high-powered spread offense.
Park Hill’s defense held up for the most part despite the dueling offenses’ high-powered play. Trojans juniors DeShaun Powell and Seth Garrison each had an interception, while senior linebackers Jarrett Ross (15) and Brighton Ramirez (nine) and junior linebacker Haden Wallace (nine) were the top tacklers.
“There were some things that we thought we could make an adjustment here, but we felt that it was in our best interest to maybe not and instead work through those kinks,” Hood said. “There are going to be some times like that show up here in some games in the future, and those kids need to have that experience to be able to overcome some of the things the opponent was doing there.”
Park Hill now enters a rematch with its intra-district rival.
Park Hill South enters the Friday, Sept. 1 game at Park Hill District Stadium at 1-1 after an upset loss to Grandview last week. The Panthers nearly pulled the upset a year ago before Park Hill held on for a 24-23 win after the Trojans stopped a late two-point try that could’ve swung the result.
While Park Hill South went on to the Class 5 playoffs, Park Hill finished 6-4 playing up in Class 6 and have plenty of motivation this time around, especially for the biggest rivalry game of the year.
“They’re always a formidable matchup, and I always say when you get to come out and play against a great opponent like that, that’s going to be a fun week for us and I’m sure they’re in the same boat,” Hood said. “I know that coach (Mike) Sharp and his crew will have the best game plan they can come up with, and they’ll do an outstanding job of prepping for us and I think our kids are excited about that opportunity to get a chance to go up against them. They’re really fired up about it.”