With a former quarterback as the coach, it’s no surprise Blue Springs has one of the top quarterbacks in the state.
Senior Stinson Dean and the Wildcats (11-0) play Hickman at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Hickman in the Class 6 semifinals. The winner advances to the final against the Lindbergh-Hazelwood Central winner Nov. 28 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Blue Springs beat Hickman 43-27 on Sept. 19 at Hickman in the third game of the season.
Coach Kelly Donohoe played for Kansas from 1986-89 and threw for 5,382 yards, second on KU’s list.
Donohoe said it’s easier for him to coach quarterbacks.
“Any time you’ve played a position … you can feel what that kid is feeling,” Donohoe said. “Probably what I’ve done better this year with him than I’ve ever done at quarterback is him having a lot of input because he is a smart kid.
“I go to him a lot with what he feels really comfortable with. If your quarterback feels good about what you’re running, you’re going to be successful.”
There is little doubt from either coach that Dean is the best quarterback in Missouri.
“From an offensive standpoint, we go as he goes,” Donohoe said. “If there’s a better quarterback around, I’d like to see him. He’s really special in that he understands the offense; he’s like a coach out there.”
Hickman coach Gregg Nesbitt said even though Rock Bridge’s Chase Patton is good, Patton isn’t as good as Dean.
“He is the best quarterback in Missouri, no question,” Nesbitt said. “He’s really controlling the ball game. I think everything starts and stops with him at the quarterback position.”
Dean and the No. 1 Wildcats are playing the best they have all season, according to Donohoe. Dean is 160-for-232 for 1,671 yards.
He has a talented receiving core with Kevin Zey, Darius Hill and Jarrett Morris. Hill, 6 feet 6 inches, could cause the biggest matchup problems for the No. 4 Kewpies (8-3). Zey leads Blue Springs in receptions with 43 for 405 yards.
Blue Springs advanced to the Class 6 semifinals by beating Rockhurst 24-7. The only points Blue Springs allowed were on a fumble recovery.
Although the offense has done its job, Donohoe said the defense has been the key to the Wildcats’ success.
“Our tradition at our school has been to put the very best 11 kids on the field we can defensively and make teams work hard to score points,” Donohoe said.
Last week, the defense was at its best, allowing Rockhurst to cross the 50 for one play. Blue Springs held the Hawklets to 83 yards.
The defense forced five turnovers when it played Hickman. Although the Kewpies have matured since the third game, turnovers will be a concern.
“I think the key will be our offense,” Nesbitt said. “No. 1, we can’t have penalties and we can’t turn the football over. If we do those two things, our season will be over.”
In Blue Springs’ win against Hickman, a strong defensive line hampered quarterback Blake Tekotte, forcing three interceptions.
The defensive line starts with Matt McClein, a 6-3, 290-pound tackle. Jaron Boston is lighter at 240, but is 6-2 and athletic. Boston has six sacks this year. Colby Wochner and Kory Arrington are solid at defensive end.
Middle linebacker Sean Sharkey leads the Wildcats with 120 tackles.
Blue Springs appears to have history on its side. The past three seasons the Blue Springs-Rockhurst winner has become the state champion. Despite the odds, Nesbitt said he thinks Hickman has a good chance.
“They are pretty good, I mean, they’re the No. 1 team in Missouri; they’re undefeated,” Nesbitt said. “The best team doesn’t always win, either.”