Park Hill South didn’t need much time to start a rout in the regular season finale.
Ta’Von Tusa ran for three of his four touchdowns in the first half against Truman, and Payton Murray added a 40-yard punt return score in the early onslaught Friday, Oct. 13 at Park Hill District Stadium. Park Hill South ended a three-game losing streak with an emphatic 42-14 victory over the Patriots.
Park Hill South coach Mike Sharp hopes the win provides a much-needed shot of encouragement for the defending Class 5 District 7 champions after injuries piled up midseason.
“We have had to reinvent ourselves,” he said. “We have a ton of young guys who have had to learn how to play at the varsity level. Friday night was a great stepping stone for us. Hopefully we can carry that momentum through the bye week and take the next step. Our guys are starting to believe they can win even though we are young.”
Park Hill South (4-5) locked up the No. 3 seed in Class 5 District 7 and earned a first round bye. The Panthers will open the postseason as defending district champions against No. 2-seeded William Chrisman (6-3).
Tusa, a junior transfer from Bishop Miege (Kan.), remained the focal point of the offense vs. Truman, and he scored on runs of 8 and 6 yards in the first quarter to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead after less than 3 minutes of play. Murray then added his first touchdown of the season to all but end the competitive portion of the game.
Park Hill South went into halftime up 28-0, and Tusa added a 63-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to answer Truman’s first score.
Tusa finished with 191 yards on just 18 carries before giving way to the reserves late. Matt Suchanick, a sophomore and the Panthers’ third quarterback this season, ran for 47 more and completed 2 of 9 passes for 22 yards with one interception.
Sharp went to Suchanick in wake of broken collarbones for seniors Billy Eggers and Taylor Tobin in a loss to Park Hill back in Week 3. Park Hill South won its next two, including an upset of Raytown, to go over .500 for the only time this season, but a string of losses to Liberty North, Liberty and Lee’s Summit North followed with the Panthers scoring just 26 points total during the skid.
Park Hill South came back to dominate Truman in their Suburban Conference Red Division finale. The Panthers were 3-2 this season in league after an undefeated run to the title a year ago.
William Chrisman and Park Hill South have both spent time in the Class 5 Missouri media poll this season, and they did not meet least year when the Panthers won both District 7 games to reach the playoffs. They won eight straight a year ago before losing to Staley in the state quarterfinals.
Entering district play, William Chrisman has lost three of five, including one to District 7 top seed Fort Osage two weeks ago. The Bears closed the regular season with a shutout of Winnetonka.