Six BVNW turnovers lead to 52-27 loss to BVSW

The Blue Valley Northwest football team dropped their record to 1-4 on the 2017 season with a 52-27 loss to Blue Valley Southwest Thursday Sept. 28 at Blue Valley High. Senior quarterback Payton Hartman completed 21/45 passes, for 310 yards, 3 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and 1 lost fumble.

Freshman J. Michael Sturdivant (21), junior Brandon Cooper (42) and senior Terrel Hunter (20) kneel during the national anthem. The three players were joined by inactive senior running back Chris Thomas in their peaceful protest.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-Chief

For the second straight week, a red zone series prior to halftime proved to be the turning point in a Huskies loss. As time expired in the first half, Blue Valley Southwest quarterback Will Eldridge scrambled to his left and completed a 3 yard pass to BVSW senior wide receiver Billy Bartlett, to give the Timberwolves a 21-14 lead over the Huskies.

Bartlett finished the night with 4 touchdown receptions after senior cornerback Easton Hunt left the game on the first defensive series with an injured wrist. Hunt’s replacement, senior cornerback Terrel Hunter and the rest of the Huskies defensive backs had their hands full for much of the night with Bartlett and the rest of the BVSW receivers.

“We got burnt on the slants and then them just going straight out,” Hunter said. “We just gotta work on keeping them inside.”

Bartlett’s touchdown prior to the break opened up a run of 28 unanswered points for the Timberwolves as they cruised to a 52-27 victory on Thursday night.

With 3:47 remaining in the first quarter, sophomore running back Edward Thomas appeared to be spun to the ground by a BVSW defender but managed to stay on his feet and scamper for a 55 yard touchdown run for the Huskies, knotting the score at 7-7.

“I kind of felt like I was about to be down,” Thomas said, “but when I rolled over, the first thing I landed on was my feet, and I’m like, ‘I hear no whistle so I’m just going to go down and score’. It was amazing though, it felt good to get the tempo running.”

Thomas’ 55 yard touchdown run, his fifth of the season, was the only big play for the Huskies rushing attack which could not seem to get anything going for the second straight week. Thomas said it continues to be frustrating to not see any holes to run through.

Despite a deceiving 27-point output for the Huskies offense, and senior quarterback Payton Hartman completing 21/45 passes for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns, the Huskies offense was nowhere near what head coach Clint Rider said he wants to see it.

“Tonight was my fault,” Rider said. “Tonight was absolutely my fault. I did not have us prepared to play, and didn’t do a good enough job of preparing us. So, I’ve gotta do a better job in practice of making sure that we know what we’re supposed to do so we can play confident.”

With 6 turnovers- 4 interceptions and 2 fumbles lost- on the night, the Huskies offense continued to put the defensive unit in poor situations, and in turn, exposed them to extended time on the field against the daunted Timberwolves receiving corps.

One of the lone bright spots for the offense was freshman J. Michael Sturdivant hauling in 6 receptions for a total of 80 yards. Sturdivant capped off his night with a 27-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. With touchdowns in each of his past three games, Sturdivant said he felt like he has hit his stride.

“I’m starting to get a feel for the game,” Sturdivant said, “and everything is slowing down and I’m just starting to fit in and get into a groove.”

Prior to the game, junior running back Brandon Cooper, senior running back Chris Thomas, Sturdivant and Hunter all knelt during the playing of the national anthem. Cooper, Sturdivant, Chris Thomas and Hunter each had differing reasons for their protest.

“We felt that, America right now is not looking too good,” Hunter said. “So we feel like, defenseless black people, and people of color being discriminated against, this anthem isn’t really, it’s not for us, at all. So we felt that protesting that, we felt that’s a good thing to do.”

“I’ve seen a lot of stuff going on around the school, and a lot of people just not understanding on what’s going on in the black community with the police brutality,” Cooper said. “I don’t think people actually get the understanding that it really doesn’t settle well with other people, with African-Americans particularly, and if we don’t step up and start at every single level, no one’s going to start noticing.”

Athletic Director Kevin Gerke said he was unaware of the planned protest, but was not upset by anything that took place during the anthem.

“I was not aware that they were planning to do that tonight,” Gerke said. “I thought the way they handled themselves tonight was fine. They didn’t do anything that would be considered disruptive. What they did tonight was well within their First Amendment rights so we’re not going to have any issues with what they did.”

While four BVNW student-athletes chose to kneel, the remainder of the team, including Edward Thomas did not feel the need to take a knee. 

“Going by my beliefs, I have people in my family that served time in the service, and I’m not going to take a knee and disrespect them and the people taking the time [to serve],” Edward said. “Yes, I understand that people do it in the NFL, people do it in college, but it’s high school now. Like, c’mon man. You’re just making more of a scene.”  

Next Thursday Oct. 5, Blue Valley Northwest will play hosts to the Trail Blazers of Gardner Edgerton High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the DAC.