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Park Hill South Making Its Mark In Football

January 16, 2011
By Andrea Cook of Park Hill South High School

Park Hill South making its mark in football


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The junior defensive lineman jogs over and introduces himself.

Hello, he says.

My name is Ron Anderson from Park Hill South.

The greasy black paint he had rubbed under his eyes and all around his mouth that formed a Captain Hook-like mustache is fading, and a part of you wants to laugh at the sight. But Anderson is for real. And so is his football team. So you don't snicker. You listen.

"I think Park Hill South football isn't ‘Park Hill South football' anymore," Anderson says in his confident baritone.

Now, the next part comes out slowly as Anderson presents his view of Panther football after their 34-16 Missouri Class 5 playoff victory against Raytown. The Panthers will meet Raytown South next Monday.

"I think that we are above and that we are superior to many other teams. I think that we can beat anybody. If we put our mind to it, we can do it."

Now would be a good time to go back and read the parts that mention ‘Park Hill South' and ‘Raytown' and ‘football.' Because it's not a mistake.

On Wednesday evening, Park Hill South made a giant leap by winning its first playoff game since 2004.

Park Hill South has built a proud sports tradition since the school opened in 1998. The boys' basketball team has been to the Final Four. The girls' track and field team once won a state championship trophy. And this fall, the Panthers captured eight of the nine possible conference titles.

But let's face it - the sport that gets the most publicity is the one that gets Park Hill South the least love. That's not to say that the football Panthers hadn't won. They had but could not knock down the playoff door under the old Missouri format.

"We just haven't been known for it because Park Hill's done such a great job with their program," Park Hill South athletic director John Sedler said about the longtime district rival that had kept the Panthers out. "Now that they're sending two (teams) - I think that rule was obviously to help Blue Springs and Rockhurst who were always playing each other, (but) it benefited the rest of us."

But the Panthers can puff out their chests. They defend the run and their senior-heavy offensive line executes with precision. This is a difficult opponent for anybody in Class 5. But someone had to get first dibs.

The Raytown Blue Jays came to this game with some pretty big problems. One, they're young. Nine defensive starters are underclassmen. Which leads us to the bigger dilemma - they're young because they're hurt.

It's never a good sign when your loudest senior leads the pregame exercises while in his lettermen's jacket and leaning on crutches. Senior Conrrad Nicholls, the team's best defensive lineman, broke his left ankle last week. The Blue Jays' other top linemen, Levi Walters, has a cast on his right foot from his broken fibula.

This is not to excuse this beatdown, just to add context as to why Park Hill South rushers might have felt as if they were running through Swiss cheese.

After Caleb Sims scattered 59 yards through the Panthers' opening drive - which resulted in a missed field goal - Darren Davis solely handled rushing duties and took all seven plays for the 38-yard scoring drive.

In this second quarter, Park Hill South scored three more touchdowns - a Sims run, a punt return and interception return - and you were expecting the small contingent of Raytown fans to start chanting: LET'S PLAY BAS-KET-BALL!

To their credit, they did not. And it's something Park Hill South football won't worry about hearing anytime soon.

"It has been a basketball school and we're just changing it," Anderson says. "We're switching things up this year. It's going to be a football school from now on. A good football school."

To reach Candace Buckner, high school columnist, send e-mail to cbuckner@kcstar.com

Posted on Wed, Nov. 03, 2010 11:18 PM

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/11/03/2391090/park-hill-south-making-its-mark.html#ixzz1BGHrFT9F

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