Scottie Guthrie guaranteed a state championship. The bad news for Guthrie and the Hickman Kewpies was he promised a state title for the Kewpies next year.
The Blue Springs Wildcats defeated Hickman 17-7 in a Class 6 state semifinal Saturday. The No. 1 Wildcats (12-0) advance to play Hazelwood Central in the final at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on Friday.
“I didn’t want today to be the last game I had with these guys,” Guthrie said. “This team is going to win a state championship next year. We laid the groundwork this year, and we let them know how hard they had to work. But they are going to win state next year, no doubt.”
No. 4 Hickman (8-4) struggled to move the ball. The Kewpies managed 178 yards, including minus-16 yards rushing in the second half. The Kewpies had 12 first downs, but needed to punt six times.
When Hickman punted, the Wildcats penetrated the Kewpies’ line several times, which forced Blake Tekotte to rush his punts.
“They overloaded us on the punt,” said Jeff Moore, special teams coordinator. “We had seen that when we played them earlier. We zoned it the last part of the season, and we made an adjustment, but we had some breakdowns.”
Late in the third quarter, Blue Springs’ Troy Cloninger rushed through the line and got a piece of Tekotte’s punt. The ball traveled 1 yard and gave the Wildcats great field position at the Kewpies’ 22. Marcelo Velazquez capitalized on the blocked punt by kicking a 47-yard field goal to make the score 17-7.
“We had some punt team breakdowns that proved to be huge,” Hickman coach Gregg Nesbitt said. “Those are turnovers.”
Not only was Tekotte hurried when he punted, but also when he dropped back to pass. The Wildcats sacked him seven times, including five in the second half. Tekotte finished 13-of-24 for 143 yards.
“They have a great pressure package, and they are a great defensive football team,” Nesbitt said. “I thought (Blake) did a good job of eluding and still trying to make some plays for us.”
Although the Kewpies’ offense sputtered, the defense kept them in the game. Hickman sacked Stinson Dean four times and limited him to 116 yards on 15-of-23 passing.
“Our defense played so well, but we were still a play or two from stealing the game away,” Nesbitt said. “Our defense played lights out all day.”
The Kewpies looked to have found their rhythm late in the first quarter. After watching Dean throw a touchdown pass to Justin Brown on the opening drive, the Kewpies came back with a 10-play, 69-yard drive. Guthrie caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Tekotte on third-and-16 to tie the game at 7.
“I came out here and gave it everything I had, and I think every single one of my teammates did, too,” Guthrie said. “Sometimes it doesn’t fall your way ... but it happens.”
Despite tying the game, the Kewpies could not stop the Wildcats from moving the football. After another nearly blocked punt gave the Wildcats field position at the Hickman 48, Blue Springs took the lead for good.
On third-and-11, Dean handed off to Jarrett Morris. Morris cut outside to the right sideline and ran 25 yards for a touchdown. Morris said he thought coach Kelly Donohoe called the play to set up a Velazquez field goal.
“I was thinking just to hit the hole really hard,” Morris said. “Don’t dance, just hit the hole really hard and go. We had some good blocks, so I just bounced it out and used my speed. The touchdown got the momentum going our way and it quieted the crowd.”
Morris finished with 57 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown. He said he was impressed with Hickman’s defense, especially its linebackers.
“They are the best linebackers and defensive linemen that I’ve ever played,” Morris said. “They are better than Rockhurst, Oak Park, anyone. They are just the best linebackers. There is always someone unaccounted for and they can hit you, and they can hit.”
Although down 10 in the fourth quarter, the Kewpies had chances to get back in the game. The Kewpies struggled to advance the ball on the Wildcats’ tough front four, though. On fourth-and-11, Joey Butler intercepted Tekotte in the end zone to end the Kewpies’ last scoring threat.
“For us to win, we needed to do three things,” Nesbitt said. “We couldn’t turn the ball over, we did that. We couldn’t hurt ourselves too much with penalties, we did that. We needed to run the ball with authority, and they were too much for us to handle.”