The BVNW Football team played Derby High School in the KSHSAA 6A State Championship game, Nov. 27. The Huskies Defeated the Panthers, 41-21.
With Blue Valley Northwest football’s first ever state championship trophy in his hands, head coach Clint Rider became emotional as he talked to his team.
“Guys, I cannot thank you enough,” Rider said. “To all of our coaches, our community and our players thank you so much for making this the best day of my life.”
Rider took over the Northwest football program five years ago and struggled his first three seasons, going 2-7, 0-9 and 2-7. Now, the Huskies are state champions after defeating Derby, 41-21.
The Huskies were led on offense by senior quarterback Mikey Pauley, who ran for four touchdowns and threw for another. The Huskies’ defense shut out the Panthers in the first half and didn’t allow a completion in the game.
“Our mentality today was to start out their offense and that’s what we did. They had a lot of the hype going into the week. The media was talking about how we would be lucky to stop them two times all game, but we stopped them five times in the first half and that says a lot,” senior defensive back Zach Yates said.
After a dominant start to the game, Northwest found themselves up 28-0 going into halftime, scoring a touchdown on every offensive possession.
“We knew we were going up against the best and most athletic defense we’ve played against all season, so we were locked in from last Saturday morning all the way up until now. We spent a lot of time preparing for this and we knew we had to do whatever we had to win this game, and I feel like we did a great job with that today,” junior running back Grant Stubblefield said.
After forcing a three and out, Derby scored their first touchdown of the game on a 39-yard rush with 6:26 remaining in the third quarter. However, the Huskies responded as Pauley capped off a long drive with his fourth rushing touchdown of the game to give the Huskies a 35-7 lead. Derby added another touchdown with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Northwest responded yet again as Stubblefield ran one in from 14 yards out, giving the Huskies a 41-14 lead and sealing the victory.
Derby scored another touchdown with just over a minute remaining in the game, but it was too little too late as the Huskies would go on to win, 41-21.
“Putting up a banner in the gym is really special. We’ve been waiting for this moment for our whole time at Northwest. We knew we could do it and we came out today and proved it,” Pauley said.
Similar to Pauley, Rider said he has pictured coaching a team to a state championship for a long time.
“This means the world to me. I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was a little kid. As a player, I never got to experience this and as a coach, we fell one-yard short at the last school I was at. It’s a culmination of the efforts of so many people who have helped build this program up and I’m so grateful for those people and what they’ve poured into this program,” Rider said.
Winning the first-ever state championship in school history was a special moment, Stubblefield said.
“It’s crazy making history, knowing that we’re going to be up on a banner forever. I don’t think any other team is more deserving because we’ve been in that weight room since seventh and eighth grade together talking about winning a state championship,” Stubblefield said. “We’re finally here and we finally executed. It’s a big weight off of our shoulders because we knew we were going to get here and we knew we needed to finish it off and we did it.”
For Yates, winning a state championship means something extra special. Yates’ mom passed away last April and Yates said it felt good to win it for her.
“It means the world. [My mom] was my number one supporter and when she passed away it was really hard on me. This is what she would’ve wanted to see and it just makes this all even more special to be able to do it for her,” Yates said.
A number of players in the senior class have been playing together since kindergarten. Pauley said it has been an amazing journey and they’ve come a long way to win a state championship.
“Some of us have been playing together since kindergarten and others joined in middle school or freshman year. What’s so special about our senior class is that everyone has stayed together, did their job and filled positions they needed to. We’ve been a very special group for Northwest and I’ve enjoyed every part of it,” Pauley said.