Park Hill slogged to the finish of a win in the regular season finale last week then learned of reason to celebrate.
After a fast start against Blue Springs South, Park Hill held on for a 24-20 win Friday, Oct. 13 in Blue Springs, Mo. That result coupled with an upset loss for Lee’s Summit West against Lee’s Summit led to a dramatic shift in the Suburban Conference Gold Division standings.
Park Hill and Blue Springs finished tied at the top with matching 5-1 records — one game ahead of Lee’s Summit West at 4-2. However, Park Hill won the regular season matchup between the two teams earlier in the season, and despite a loss to Lee’s Summit West, the Trojans grabbed the Gold Division title.
Blue Springs South kept the drama going until the final seconds.
Park Hill senior defensive Devin Haney grabbed three interceptions, and junior defensive lineman Ethan Smith recorded a key sack in the fourth quarter to help the Trojans survive. They led 17-0 at halftime and 24-7 after the third quarter, but Blue Springs South’s four second half interceptions of Trojans senior quarterback Billy Maples provided a comeback avenue.
After closing within 24-20, Blue Springs South forced a punt and then drove to Park Hill’s 1.
A holding call negated a potential touchdown, and Smith sacked Jaguars quarterback Brody Parker and forced a fumble. Park Hill linebacker Cole Gonier recovered at the Trojans’ 41, but the offense couldn’t gain a first down.
Blue Springs South (3-6) took possession once more with 41 seconds remaining but couldn’t mount a game-winning drive.
Maples finished 17 for 28 for 150 yards, but his first interception of the third quarter was returned for a touchdown to make it 17-7. He then threw another one, only for Haney — a lockdown cornerback headed to Northern Illinois — grabbed the ball right back at a key moment.
Park Hill senior running back capped the ensuing drive with his second touchdown — a 5-yarder — to give Park Hill its 24-7 lead.
Maples failed to throw a touchdown for the first time in nine games, and his interception total went from three before the game to seven total.
Clayton went over 100 yards for the fifth time in six games, finishing with 126 on 23 carries. His 4-yard touchdown early in the second quarter gave Park Hill a 7-0 lead, and senior Ronnie Bell — held to just three catches for 47 yards — added a 5-yard rushing score on a jet sweep.
Davin Dorrell’s 40-yard field goal just before half put Park Hill up three scores and left the Trojans seemingly in control.
Instead, Maples struggled with junior Joe Webb leading the receivers with six catches for 38 yards, and Blue Springs South chipped away at the deficit. Haney’s interceptions and Smith’s sack helped the Trojans hold off the challenge and enter the postseason at 7-2 overall.
Park Hill has won three straight since back-to-back losses to Free State (Kan.) and Lee’s Summit West and ended up with the No. 2 seed in Class 6 District 4. The Trojans open Friday, Oct. 20 against Kickapoo (2-7) with the winner to face either Joplin (8-1) or Lee’s Summit (4-5) in a semifinal the following week.
With the win, Park Hill moved to No. 5 in the most recent Class 6 media poll — up one spot after Lee’s Summit West dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 after its loss.