Ground and pound
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
When it’s the last high school football game you will ever play, why not go out in style?
Throw in the fact that this is for bragging rights in an all-star game that features some of the best players in the Kansas City metro area from Missouri facing the same from Kansas and the stakes went just a bit higher.
Well, Missouri quarterback Will Harrington took what he had done all last season for Lee’s Summit North and put on a show for the fans at Blue Valley High School Friday night, leading his team to a 19-7 victory in the Country Mart Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game.
He ran for 105 yards and two scores, earning Missouri’s Most Valuable Player Award for the game.
“Our game plan coming in was to just move the ball,” Harrington said “Our run game was unstoppable. It was our best thing. We wanted to share the ball with everyone. Our offensive line did a great job with good pushes.”
Missouri jumped to the early lead on its opening drive, going 80 yards on 11 plays, capped by Harrington’s four-yard touchdown run. A missed extra point into a stiff breeze, that blew all night long, left Missouri with an early 6-0 lead.
Kansas answered immediately. On the ensuing kickoff, Teddy Colbert bolted 80 yards after taking the handoff from a teammate, putting Kansas up 7-6.
The Kansas offense did not touch the ball until there was 41 seconds remaining in the first quarter. That, along with a smothering Missouri defense, never allowed the Kansas offense to ease into a rhythm. Kansas ran a Wing-T offense, but when the other team’s offense spent most of the night on the field, it became problematic to showcase its effectiveness.
“They played great both ways,” Kansas head coach Jeff Gourley, who is the head coach at Olathe South, said. “Our timing was off a little bit, and we never got the flow. The tendency is when you get frustrated, you try thinking too much, and this isn’t a thinking offense, it’s fast-paced, flow offense, and we just never got the flow. We missed a block here and a block there, and we never got it put together. It wasn’t because of effort.”
Missouri added another score late in the second quarter on a Gabe Vandiver three-yard run, and then Harrington scored his second touchdown midway through the third.
Missouri spent much of the night controlling the line of scrimmage with the quarterback play of Harrington and Eric Gromacki. Seven different players ran the ball for Missouri to help control the clock and keep the Kansas offense off the field.
“We did what we thought we could do the best” said Richmond head coach Rob Bowers who coached the Missouri team. “We lined up and pounded it at them, and we did it by spreading the formations. The quarterbacks did a nice job of making their reads. We had quick running backs, and if they (Kansas) overplayed in one place, we were able to take advantage of it. The kids just played well.”
In the fourth quarter, Kansas began to move the ball through the air with quarterback Garrett Fugate. During the team’s best drive, which began at its own 17-yard line, Fugate relied on the hands of three receivers in Chad Johnson, Brett McMakin and Orange Mooney to march down field.
Kansas would make it all the way to the Missouri one-yard line with a little more than two minutes to play before the Missouri defense held and essentially seal the victory.
Even with the Missouri win, Kansas still holds the slight edge in the all-time series 11-9.
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