Jock, Johnson help Kansas defense dominate
Overland Park In the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association All-Star Game last year, the Kansas All-Stars ended four long years of frustrating losses to their Missouri counterparts by capturing a 6-3 win.
In 2008 the Kansas All-Stars looked like they might be on their way to starting a streak of their own as, once again, a dominating defensive performance paved the way for a 20-9 victory Thursday night at the Blue Valley District Activities Center.
The Kansas defense recorded seven tackles for loss and forced three turnovers in playing a disciplined brand of football, never letting the Missouri offense get on track. Offensively, Olathe South's Kyson Ginivan came up huge for the Kansans as he nailed two field goals, kicked two extra points, walloped four kickoffs for touchbacks and received a 25-yard pass for a touchdown from quarterback and Olathe South teammate Mike Keese. For his efforts Ginivan was named the Kansas side's Most Outstanding Player.
Kansas defensive coordinator and Shawnee Mission Northwest coach Aaron Barnett, serving with Kansas head coach Scott Wright - of Kansas 6A state champion Blue Valley West - put the success of the Kansas team down to two key factors: chemistry and selflessness.
"Coaching's always fun," Barnett said, "but it's really fun when you get to work with the best players out there. Sometimes in all-star games you kind of get a couple of guys who put themselves in front of the team, and, boy, we just didn't have any of that. This was a really good group of kids to work with."
Two key components to the Kansas defensive unit were Basehor-Linwood's Swede Johnson on the line and Bonner Springs' Tyler Jock in the secondary.
Johnson provided plenty of pressure early - and nearly had a sack - as the Kansas defense established control on the opening drive.
Jock provided a steady supply of tackles throughout the game, including one on the final play that cut short a potential last-second scoring drive by Missouri.
Both players were pleased to play a role in the victory, and neither was surprised by how dominant the defense was.
"I think we played exactly how we expected," Johnson said. "Everybody played really well. We just went hard in practice, and that's what we did in the game."
Added Jock: "I think everybody was really anxious to go. It built up for nine days (during practice), and we just finally got to let go."
After the Missouri side in the game's early minutes began using a combination of plays relying on quarterback/running back Donte Strickland (Blue Springs South) to run the ball, Barnett and the Kansas side responded by sending McKee blazing in from the outside on a Missouri pitch to the left. McKee drilled Strickland for a two-yard loss and the defense began to play more aggressively. The Kansans stopped the Missouri side for two more losses on the possession, establishing a recurring theme.
"I always like playing defense first because you always get the first hit in the mouth," Johnson said. "On offense you always have to think about what you're going to do. With defense you just get to go out there and hit 'em."
The Missouri defense countered by being just as good as the Kansas unit in the early going, forcing the Kansans to turn the ball over on downs in their first possession. However, with 2:12 remaining in the first quarter, the Kansas offense took over for their first scoring drive.
Featuring the rushing of Louisburg tailback Jason Spradling, Kansas engaged on a nine-play, 52-yard drive that culminated in a Ginivan 42-yard field goal with 9:30 left in the second quarter, giving Kansas an early 3-0 lead. On the drive, Spradling carried the ball five times for 30 yards.
The Kansans didn't wait long to score again, this time from the defensive side of the ball. On a third-and-10 from the Missouri 37-yard line, Missouri quarterback Andrew Schnell (Lee's Summit) was crushed by linebacker Nick Williams of Olathe Northwest. Williams' hit jarred the ball loose to the right side of the field where it was scooped up by Schlagle defensive end Eric Coulter who ran into the end zone from 23 yards out for the game's first touchdown. A Ginivan extra point then made the Kansas lead 10-0 with 5:48 remaining in the half.
Missouri kicked a field goal early in the third quarter, but Kansas countered with another Ginivan field goal. He then caught a touchdown pass that iced the game.
Missouri scored a touchdown with a few minutes left on the clock and then mounted one final drive. On the final play of the game a long pass was completed, but Jock cut down the receiver before he could break away for a score.
"I didn't want them to score on the last play," Jock said. "I wanted to keep the score the way it was so we'd have a good deficit over them."
Johnson will compete in the Shrine Bowl at 7 p.m. on July 26 at Emporia State University. Other than that, Jock and Johnson now will spend the remainder of the summer in training. Both will begin their college football careers this fall as teammates at Butler County Community College.
Both players agreed that their experience in the GKCFCA All-Star Game opened their eyes to what the college game will be like. Both said they will use the experience as motivation to train harder this summer.
"It showed me how much faster of a pace it's going to be and how much better the people are at the next level," Johnson said. "A lot of the people from the other team are going to go to college, so it just shows you what the next level is going to be like."