The Harrisonville Wildcats are heading to Springfield for the state championship game after soundly defeating Park Way North in the Class IV semi finals. It was a fairly evenly matched game throughout the first half, but it was the second half where Harrisonville took control of the game and never looked back.
No one could have ordered a more perfect football weather day with bright sunshine, crisp temperatures, and a light breeze. Fans packed the stands for both teams and the noise was deafening at times. Both teams played a clean game with few penalties being called.
In the first half some of the Harrisonville fans got a little nervous when the Park Way North Vikings were able to catch the Wildcats in their own end zone for a safety. But the Wildcats got back on track and ended the first half with a 13-9 lead.
Harrisonville picked up the pace in the second half, stopping the Vikings who received the kickoff and then turning around and scoring a rushing touchdown on a 64 yard run bringing the score to 20-9. It was only the start. The Wildcats had one 3 and out for the entire second half, scoring on the rest of their possessions.
Park Way North showed some life scoring a touchdown late in the third quarter, but were unsuccessful in their 2-point attempt. That score closed the gap to 20-15, but that is the only time the Wildcat defense let the Vikings see the end zone.
Wildcat offense put more points on the board after converting on a 4th down earlier in the drive, but were unable to add on a 2-point attempt. The score climbed to 26-15, but Harrisonville was not done yet.
After an unsuccessful attempt at a fake punt, the Vikings give the Wildcats the ball at the 13 yard line. Focusing on the running game as they had for most of the second half, Harrisonville moved the ball consistently up the field, getting another set of downs at the 3 yard line. The Wildcats used excellent clock management, running the play clock down to 1 second before calling a time out to discuss their first 3rd and goal play. It paid off with another touchdown, but the point after was no good. The score was 32-15 and that would be the final scoring drive of the game.
The last two minutes of the game the Wildcat fans could be heard chanting “We’re going to state!” It will be the first time in 13 years that Harrisonville has made that trip.
“Our goal in August was not to make it to State; our goal was to go win a State Championship,” said head coach Brent Maxwell. “We’ve put ourselves in the position where we wanted to be. Next week’s theme is simply going to be to finish. Let’s go finish what we started,” Maxwell told his team.
When asked to describe the season the team has had, he admitted that there were highs and lows, but their positive attitude and strong work ethic remained consistent. “We’ve grown from the mistakes we made earlier this year. They chose to stick together and overcome that adversity,” said Maxwell. “They really are very unselfish people. They don’t really care who gets the credit, they just enjoy being out here every day.”
The Wildcats will take on the Kearney Bulldogs Friday, November 25, 7:00pm at Plaster Stadium in Springfield, Missouri.