KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Park Hill South can’t seem to avoid inclement weather this season, but the players and coaches haven’t let delays bother them, either.
For the third time in four weeks, a rain storm caused a schedule shift, and the Panthers kicked off against St. Joseph Central on Friday, Sept. 9 at Park Hill District Stadium but came back to finish the win the following morning. The 50-37 triumph improved Park Hill South to 3-1 on the season with all three wins coming in games scheduled to start on Friday but finishing on a Saturday afternoon.
The resurgent start to the season earned Park Hill South a spot in this week’s Missouri media Class 5 poll. The Panthers moved from receiving votes to tied for ninth with Timberland (4-0). Both teams received 19 points in the polling.
Despite all of the wins coming in strenuous circumstances, Park Hill South coach Mike Sharp doesn’t want any more games on Saturday this season, unless officials decide to switch the schedule ahead of time.
“It’s not a lot of fun to be honest with you, but it’s a good test in adversity and being able to rally,” he said. “No one likes to split the game in two, but sometimes Mother Nature wins. As of now, we are undefeated on Saturday.”
The two teams completed three quarters on Friday night without a drop of rain with kickoff moved up one hour to 6 p.m.
But after a delay of more than an hour due to lightning, the coaches agreed to come back Saturday morning with Park Hill South up 35-24. There were 28 points scored in the final 10 minutes, and Central (1-3, 0-2 Suburban Conference Red Division) closed within 35-30 on Cade Musser’s 56-yard scamper on an option pitch shortly after play resumed.
After a three-and-out, the Indians took the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but Park Hill South senior Jake Springer grabbed an interception to end the threat deep in his own territory. Panthers running back Caeden Bowen then ripped off a 56-yard touchdown run — the first of two long scores in the final minute for the senior to help keep Central at bay.
“It was a rollercoaster,” Sharp said. “There was not much defense being played on either side, unfortunately.”
The game started with a different kind of thunder under sunny skies on Friday night.
Central took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, and Indians senior running back Izzy Smith scored the first of his three straight touchdowns, as the teams exchanged the lead for much of the first half. Park Hill South quarterback Zach Suchanick capped the Panthers’ opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers up 7-6.
Springer, who led all receivers with 119 yards on six catches, made a key fourth down reception on Park Hill South’s second drive, and he capped it with a 4-yard run to take the lead back at 14-12. Smith’s next touchdown put Central ahead for the final time.
Despite forcing a turnover on Bowen’s fumble to end the following possession, Central’s 48-yard field goal attempt to extend the advantage came up wide right and short. Suchanick came back with his second touchdown on the ground, and Springer added a 10-yard run out of the Wildcat formation to put the Panthers up 28-18 at halftime.
Central had opportunities early in the second half.
Park Hill South turned the ball over on each of its first two possessions, and a 70-yard Indians’ touchdown drive cut the lead to 28-24. The second giveaway came on a fumble at Central’s 5 — a turnover that could have been costly.
Instead, the Panthers forced a punt, and Springer caught a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone, just before the delay started.
Bowen’s late touchdown runs gave him 209 yards on the ground, while Suchanick ran in two with 93 yards. Springer racked up 65 yards and two scores on the ground, helping the Panthers rush for 382 yards total.
The two teams combined for 782 yards of offense and 40 first downs. Park Hill South did most of the damage despite a knee injury to senior wide receiver/defensive back Dillon Thomas in the first half.
“We were trying to stay two scores up as much as possible,” Sharp said.
Park Hill South has already surpassed last year’s win total, coming back from the Week 3 loss to Park Hill when a late two-point conversion try failed that could have kept the Panthers’ undefeated start going.
Raytown (1-3) hosts Park Hill South this week with the Panthers looking to improve to 2-0 in Red Division play. The two teams did not meet last year with Raytown moving up one division in the Suburban Conference for this season.
Park Hill South played its first four games in its home stadium with the only “road game” the loss to the Trojans in the intra-district rivalry game.
Blue Springs 45, Park Hill 25
Turnovers fueled the Trojans to an early lead they couldn’t hold Friday, Sept. 9 in Blue Springs, Mo.
Park Hill led by 18 early and took a 25-14 advantage in the third quarter when TJ Hullaby recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. Blue Springs scored the final 31 unanswered to take the Suburban Conference Gold Division matchup between preseason top 10 teams.
Now 1-2 in league play since moving up to the top tier, Park Hill grabbed two votes in the most recent Missouri media Class 6 poll. The Trojans’ next challenge comes in the newly founded Suburban-Sunflower Showdown, hosting Lawrence Free State (Kan.) (1-1) on Friday, Sept. 16 at Park Hill District Stadium.
Blue Springs’ rally included a safety when Park Hill sent a snap over punter Parker Sampson’s head with 5:24 left in the third quarter. The Wildcats took their first lead on the resuling possession, scoring on a fourth-down screen pass and adding a two-point conversion for a 32-25 lead.
Park Hill jumped to an 18-0 lead in the first half on three touchdown passes for junior quarterback Billy Maples in the second quarter — two to DJ Johnson and the other to Joe Webb. Two of the three scores came after the Wildcats lost fumbles.
Up 18-14 at halftime, Park Hill extended its lead 2:10 into the third quarter when Darrion Davis blocked the punt and Hullaby recovered.