Derby falls just short of fourth straight title

Blue Valley Northwest wins 1st ever State Championship, 41-21
Published: Nov. 27, 2021 at 5:48 PM CST
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EMPORIA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - A somber Derby sideline after the 6A state championship game against Blue Valley Northwest, something we haven’t seen in three years. The Panthers were going for the four-peat this year to make history with four straight state titles but the Huskies got up too early and never looked back, winning 41-21.

“A lot of things went their way and we couldn’t seem to get anything working offensively, we missed a lot of tackles defensively,” said Derby head football coach Brandon Clark. “That quarterback and running back combo is really good, their offensive line was awesome. So, it was their day.

Derby senior quarterback Mercer Thatcher said, “Their linebackers were really fast and the things that worked in practice just didn’t work because they were filling the gaps. So, that was really the base of it. We performed decent and they performed better.”

Seven straight years Derby has been in a the 6A state football championship game. In 2021, the Panthers faces Blue Valley Northwest who has never appeared in a state championship game in school history.

Miles Wash came around the edge and got the hit on quarterback Mikey Pauley. Pauley was brought down the for the sack and loses the ball but with the forward throwing motion, it was ruled an incomplete pass.

A couple plays later, Mason Hopper got the initial hit on Grant Stubblefield before Wash finished the job and brought the back down for a loss of yards. That would be most of Derby’s defensive highlights throughout the rest of the game though.

The Huskies eventually got on the board later that drive when Pauley kept the ball and ran it up the middle, pushed himself across the goal line to give Blue Valley Northwest the 7-0 lead.

The Huskies would keep that momentum the whole first half. But coming back from the break, Derby’s quarterback, Mercer Thatcher took it outside and ran down the sideline and in for the Panthers first points of the game. Finally on the board halfway through the third quarter, Derby still trailed 28-7.

Fourth quarter, Derby got it’s second touchdown of the game off a fumble recovery inside the Huskie’s ten. Next play, Dylan Edwards took it up the middle to make it a 35-14 game.

With minutes left in the game, Derby was down by 27 points when Thatcher pitched it to Edwards. He ran around the edge and dove into the endzone for the last points of the game.

“I’m proud of these kids, how they played this whole season. We’ve had some close games, we’ve come out on top but we just got down too early and by too much and just couldn’t climb out way out,” said Clark.

The 17-game Derby win streak ended as the Panthers fell 41-21 against Blue Valley Northwest.

Pauley had at least three rushing touchdown and recorded one passing TD for the Huskies’ first ever state football title in school history.

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