KANSAS 6A STATE FINAL
4) Blue Valley North Mustangs vs 5) Derby Panthers (First meeting, series 0-0)
Emporia - Welch Stadium
Emporia State University
18th & Merchant, Emporia, KS 66801
We have all heard the saying "There is a first for everything."
Saturday is that day. Recently this has happened quite a bit for the 6A-East more than the 6A-West Football programs across the state.
Four weeks later and 30 teams now eliminated the Mustangs of Blue Valley North will make their first ever appearance in the 6A State Final versus the Derby Panthers.
The Derby Panthers under Brandon Clark, in his 11th season as Head Coach comes in with an overall record of of 11-1, with his only loss on the road to a hot Goddard Lions Football program. Following that loss, a 10-game winning streak took place, and to include a defeat against a favored Free State Firebirds in week-11.
Since the arrival of Brandon Clark to the Panthers gridiron, his program has amassed a total record of 104-25 overall, 26-6-32 playoff record with 6A State Titles in: 2013-SM East, and 2015-2016 vs. the Blue Valley Tigers of the historic Eric Driskell era. In 2008 and 2012, the Panthers fell just short in the Sub-state Final. Prior to coming to Derby, the Panthers had a multitude of Coaching changes after legendary Tom Young retired
This week however, the Blue Valley North Mustangs will bring all of south Overland Park, KS with them to Emporia led by fourth year Head Coach Andy Sims.
Andy Sims arrived to BV North in 2014, coming from one season as an Assistant Coach with the Leavenworth Pioneers, and prior to that, a three year stint as the Head Coach with the Excelsior Springs Tigers. Unlike his fellow and future colleagues in the EKL who have had stellar careers within the confines of Johnson County, he was inheriting a program that finished off it's second 0-9 season two of three years and a record of 1-26 from 2011 to 2013. Of any of the five BVSD #229 Football programs, none had sunk lower than the Mustangs.
Four years later, and with great leadership by QB Graham Mertz leading the way, the pass-happy and hungry attack could force the hand of the Panthers defense. As of late, the Panthers have given up 49-Free State, and 41-W-Northwest points respectively in their last two games. Stopping Mertz could be a problem from the start but expect the best from Derby to come prepared as the young and inexperienced Mustangs could show some ups and downs throughout the game.
A word of advice to the Mustangs faithful. Win or lose, enjoy this day from start to finish because it is something special to be part of. For all Mustangs alumni and current students, cherish moments like this in a rare environment that not all schools are fortunate to say that they have found themselves in. This day will provide stories for years to come and a lifetimes worth of memories!
Good luck BV North Mustangs!