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Blue Springs South delivers knockout punch to Howell

WELDON SPRING • Justin Perkins and Ryan Perkins walked off the field, unbuckled their helmets and sat on the bench. The game wasn't over but their time in football pads was nearing its end.

Francis Howell's star twin linebackers gave everything they had but it wasn't enough.

Blue Springs South motored across the state and powered its way to a 46-28 victory for the Class 6 District 3 championship Friday night at Howell.

“That was heartbreaking,” Ryan Perkins said. “It's heartbreaking to go over there and know you'll never play another game on this field.”

The No. 3 team in the Missouri Media rankings, Blue Springs South (12-0) advanced to play at Kirkwood at 7 p.m. Nov. 13.

Francis Howell, No. 2 in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-school rankings and No. 2 in the Media Rankings, finished 10-1.

The Jaguars did things to Howell that none had before this season.

Blue Springs South led 21-7 at halftime. It was the first time the Vikings went into the locker room in a hole. The Jaguars put Howell down more than a touchdown, another first.

Most stunning of all, it made the Howell defense look mortal. All season the Vikings leaned on their experienced defense, anchored by the play-making Perkins brothers and a returning core of nine starters.

With its loaded offensive front, Blue Springs South kept the ball on the ground and dared the Vikings to beat them in the trenches.

Howell could not.

“They had a game plan and it worked,” Justin Perkins said.

Blue Springs South senior running back Adam Cofield ran for 135 yards on 17 carries. Senior quarterback Noah Nigro rushed 10 times for 134 yards and scored three touchdowns. His first was a 63-yard burst up the middle on an option that fooled the Vikings on the first possession of the game. He was never sacked.

Senior Kaylob Hutsell carried 11 times for 118 yards in the second half and scored once.

“Their offensive line is really physical,” Howell coach Bryan Koch said. “They ran it down our throat.”

It didn't matter who carried the ball. The Jaguars shook off initial contact and earned yards after contact. Any number of times the first Howell defender was there to make the play but couldn't bring the ball carrier down.

“They were countless tackles in the backfield we missed,” Koch said. “We missed a lot of tackles tonight.”

Blue Springs South carried a chip on its shoulder entering this game. Last year Howell ended the Jaguars' season in a 41-7 district semifinal romp. That loss burned for more than a year.

“Since last year we've been looking at this game. We've wanted it,” Cofield said. “We just used last year as motivation to try and get a win.”

Howell's offense struggled against the Jaguars for long stretches. It managed just 70 total yards rushing. Senior quarterback Quentin White completed 11 of 23 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns. He threw one interception and was sacked twice.

Senior receiver Colton White caught five passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Senior receiver Aric Heismeyer caught three passes for 50 yards and a score.

Ryan Perkins carried the ball 12 times for 54 yards. He had a game-high 14 tackles, three for loss. Justin had nine tackles, second only to his brother. He rushed for a touchdown, too.

After Koch broke the last team huddle on the field this season, the Vikings were emotional. Quentin White took the loss hard as the tears poured out of him. The Perkins twins exchanged hugs, handshakes and praise with their teammates and coaches. Eventually they slipped away toward the end zone. The duo have committed to play baseball at Murray State after they graduate high school. Barring anything unforseen this was the last time they'll peel off their pads. The last time they'd unstrap their helmets.

They didn't get the result they came for but when they did walk off the field for the last time they knew they gave everything.

“It means so much to play for this team. There's a lot of tradition with this team,” Ryan said. “It means a lot to make our mark. It didn't turn out the way we wanted but we gave our hearts for our team.”

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