Bonner Springs duo provides rare spark for Kansas in MO-KAN loss
Blue Springs, Mo. As all-star games go, playing time is limited thanks to a roster full of players who are used to being game-changers.
That was the case for Jeremy Walker on Thursday at the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association’s MO-KAN All-Star Football Game at Blue Springs (Mo.) South High School.
He knew his time would come. He just had to be patient.
It turned out he had to be too patient. The Kansas coaching staff called a run-dominated, between-the-tackles offense that was clearly too predictable for the stout Missouri defense, and he and twin brother Jonathan Walker — both state champion sprinters — had limited touches throughout the game.
Jeremy Walker got one of his few chances late in the game. He broke free for a 79-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late as Missouri held off Kansas, 10-7.
“I was just waiting until I got the ball, I got the hole and it was wide open,” he said of the touchdown run. “I just followed my line. We had a good line.”
Kansas actually had the more potent offense in the game, thanks in large part to the touchdown run that accounted for much of the Sunflower State’s 225 yards of offense.
Ninety of Kansas’ other 146 yards came in the first quarter. An early fumble by Blue Valley’s Trevor Cornley proved costly, however, as Missouri turned the gaffe into a five-play, 63-yard touchdown drive and took a 7-0 lead with 3:51 left in the first quarter.
Both teams’ defenses dominated the second quarter. They surrendered minimal yardage and each squad forced a turnover.
At halftime, Jonathan Walker had touched the ball three times for 10 yards and Jeremy Walker had two carries for three yards.
The third quarter was more of the same for Kansas. It stuck to basic dive plays and toss plays, and poor blocking led to a quick three-and-out.
Dealt a short field, Missouri made a 21-yard field goal and stretched its lead to 10-0 with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
Kansas finally built some momentum on offense with an 11-play drive that overlapped the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters. Using a series of quarterback keepers by Sumner Academy’s Spencer Bennett, as well as a quick pass to Jeremy Walker and a 10-yard run by Cornley, Kansas marched across midfield. A fumble by Jonathan Walker halted the momentum.
The Kansas defense forced Missouri into a three-and-out, and three plays later Jeremy Walker put the Sunflower State on the board. On a dive play to the left side, he broke a tackle, popped to the outside and found open room to run. He raced untouched the rest of the way to the end zone for a 79-yard touchdown that brought Kansas within 10-7 with 5:25 left in the game.
“I knew the only thing he had to do was get one opening, and he got it,” Jonathan Walker said of his brother’s touchdown sprint. “He outran everybody, so I knew when it was open that he had it.”
The fireworks came a bit too late for Kansas, though. The defense forced Missouri to punt one more time, and the Sunflower State regained possession with 3:23 to go. After three straight running plays that drained much of the clock, Perry-Lecompton quarterback Shane Gimzo connected with fellow Kaw Joel Gantz for an 18-yard gain and a first down. Kansas ran five straight running plays to end the game — many of them with the speedy Walker brothers on the sideline — and time ran out on the rally.
“We were coming back,” Jeremy Walker said. “If we had a little more time … another quarter … two more minutes … we would’ve got it.”
Kansas had just five plays for double-digit yardage all game. Missouri was no better in the evenly-matched contest.
Olathe North linebacker Doug Peete was named the Kansas MVP for the game. Blue Springs defensive lineman Gus Toca was the Missouri MVP.
Kansas leads the all-time series 10-7.
For Jonathan and Jeremy Walker, the experience of playing in an all-star game was enjoyable despite the loss. Both agreed that the speed of the game was faster than a normal high school game, and they said it would help prepare them for playing in college in the fall at Fort Scott Community College.
“It was a great experience for us. You can only get better,” Jonathan Walker said.
Jeremy Walker agreed.
“It was good, because half of us are going to (play football in) college,” he said. “Some of us are going to Butler, some of us are going to Fort Scott, so (Kansas against Missouri) is going to be a good rivalry again. We’re just waiting for next year.”
KVL WELL REPRESENTED
In addition to Bonner Springs’ Walker brothers, the Kaw Valley League had representatives of numerous other schools in the all-star game. Nicholas Woods, of Mill Valley, shared time with the Walker twins in the backfield. Woods will join the Walkers on the football roster at Fort Scott in the fall. In addition, Perry-Lecompton’s Shane Gimzo and Joel Gantz, Lansing’s Nick Brungardt and Ryan Delich, and Turner’s Quincy Peaches also represented Kansas in the game.