LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — Life in the Suburban Conference Gold Division has been far from kind for Park Hill.
The Trojans got another taste of that Friday, Sept. 23 when they dropped a 36-29 overtime decision to Lee’s Summit West in another frustrating loss. They dropped to 3-3 overall and just 1-3 in Gold Division play, still seeking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Entering off of a big win over Lawrence Free State (Kan.) in the Suburban-Sunflower Showdown series, Park Hill held a lead in the second half — just as the Trojans have in all three Gold Division losses — but couldn’t hold on. They have stopped receiving votes in the Class 6 Missouri media poll while ranking No. 7 in the loaded Class 6 District 4 standings, which include six of eight teams with a winning record.
“We just need to find that piece to finish,” said Park Hill coach Josh Hood. “We did a great job in the second half last week against Lawrence Free State. We need to come back and find a way to do that in overtime. We just need to find that last piece to finish that game.”
The missing piece against Lee’s Summit West wasn’t the ability to move the ball but the inability to close out drives. Of the seven trips to the red zone for the Trojans, they were only able to convert a pair of touchdowns.
“We were just one person away,” Hood said. “One block, one play away from turning one of those three points into seven and we win that football game."
Park Hill stayed in the game thanks to the strong kicking of Parker Sampson. The senior kicker converted five of six field goals, following up on his 51-yard field goal the previous week that gave the Trojans momentum going into halftime of what turned out to be a relatively easy win over Free State.
“Parker is a huge weapon and we know that,” Hood said. “So we are always happy at the end of the day to get those three points.”
The biggest of those field goals came in the final seconds of regulation.
Trailing 29-26 with 2:10 left in the game, Park Hill quarterback Billy Maples led the Trojans meticulously down the field to set up the potential game-tying 46-yard try. Sampson calmly stepped up and hit the fifth and biggest field goal of the game with 29 seconds left in regulation.
The kick, which hung in the air for more than four seconds, drifted slightly to the right but stayed just inside the upright with distance to spare.
“That kicker is great,” Lee’s Summit West head coach Vinny Careswell said. “But if we can force a field goal instead of six points, we’ll take it every time.”
In overtime, the Trojans won the toss and elected to play defense.
Park Hill’s best opportunity to stop the Titans in overtime came on a fourth-and-1 from the Park Hill 16. With Lee’s Summit West starting quarterback Cole Taylor out of the game with an injury, it appeared the Titans would try for a short run for a first down.
Instead, backup quarterback Ben Kobel connected with fullback Joseph Shapiro-Scavuzzo out of the backfield. The reception got the Titans to Park Hill’s 2. Kobel then punched it in from inside the 1 to take the 36-29 lead.
The gutsy pass call ultimately resulted in a victory for the Titans.
“Well, we were worried,” Careswell said of the play. “But hey, it’s all good; it’s all good.”
On Park Hill’s possession, it would not find the same magic that the Titans did on their fourth-down conversion.
Needing 5 yards to extend the drive, Maples was sacked in the backfield by Isaiah Childs ending the drive and the game. The Trojans move on to another Suburban Gold Conference matchup this Friday, hosting Raymore-Peculiar. The Panthers (4-2) fell last week to Blue Springs South 35-33.
Hood knows it’s another tough matchup but also a chance for a turning point for the season.
“We tell these guys every day we are so close in every one of these games,” Hood said. “It’s just going to come down to finishing. We tell the guys we are writing a book here and the beginning doesn’t matter. It’s all about the ending. We are still working toward that ending.”