What was supposed to be an easy regional championship game for SM West ended up being a sour ending to a great season. The previously unbeaten SM West fell to BV Northwest Friday night in a stunner, 27-14.
Perhaps the first bad omen was that starting running back Darron Harvey was suspended from the game for disciplinary reasons. Losing a 1,600 yard back in any game is not easy to overcome. And likely BV Northwest gained some confidence when they saw Harvey was not suiting up. Alot of confidence apparently.
BV Northwest came out firing in their spread offense, when quarterback Mike Petersen hit his primary target, Casey Strohl, on a pass that went for 73 yards and a touchdown. BV Northwest led 7-0.
DJ Balazs kept the SM West offense productive and led the Vikings on a scoring drive that ended with a 13 yard passing touchdown to Kevin Webster.
BV Northwest answered that score later in the second quarter with a 25 yard field goal from Eric Phillips. BV Northwest led 10-7.
Later on in the second quarter the SM West offense rallied for another touchdown that ended with a one yard touchdown plunge by Balazs. SM West gained the lead 14-10 before BV Northwest added another field goal -- a 52 yard boot by Phillips -- before half to make it 14-13.
The field goal gave BV Northwest the majority of momentum heading into halftime, despite that fact that SM West was still up a point.
In the third quarter BV Northwest capped a scoring drive with a two yard run by Petersen. BV Northwest gained the lead 20-14. The SM West offense became stale and could not get any more points on the board.
In the fourth quarter Petersen once again hit Strohl on a touchdown pass, this time a 62 yarder that pretty much put the game out of reach for SM West late in the fourth quarter. That was the last score of the game and BV Northwest won 27-14.
Strohl ended the game with four catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings weren't the only top seed who suffered a loss on Friday night. Undefeated Olathe East lost to their cross town rival Olathe North 22-15, and SM Northwest got blasted by Lawrence Free State 41-21.
The sectional games for the 6A East Bracket will consists of Olathe North (8-2) vs. Lawrence Free State (7-3), and Blue Valley (9-1) vs. BV Northwest (3-7).
The Vikings played an absolutely great season. Rebounding from a dissapointing 5-4 year last season, SM West finished the regular season undefeated for the second time under Tim Callaghan and won nine game for the fourth time in Callaghan's six years.
The first round playoff loss is certainly a tough blow to handle, but at least the Viking having a conference championship and district title to hang their hats on.
I will also say that although the absence of Darron Harvey wasn't completely why SM West lost, it had a huge impact. In my experience as a player, seeing a team without their top player completely changes your outlook of a team. When the BV Northwest defenders saw that Harvey was not lining up in the backfield I'm sure they gained confidence, and that confidence grew throughout the game.
A prime example of that was in 2006, when Blake Lawrence did not start against Lawrence Free State in the sub-state game. Seeing Lawrence was out, the Firebirds appeared to play better defense and the game was tied at half. Lawrence started the second half and SM West outscored Lawrence Free State 17-0 to end the game.
Harvey's absence was certainly a tough loss for the Vikings, and it's too bad SM West wasn't at full capacity for the game. It's really hard to say how the game would have gone if Harvey would have played. You never want to end a season asking yourself "what if," but that just might be the case.