When Mill Valley and Saint Thomas Aquinas meet up on the football field, there is a good chance the game will be competitive and close. A crazy last-second touchdown decided the last matchup on Sept. 30, and the Saints came out on top.
And when the two matched up again on Friday night in the Kansas Class 5A semifinals at St. Thomas Aquinas, the smallest margin of error made the difference, and Mill Valley came away a 14-13 winner.
With 1:32 remaining and Mill Valley ahead 14-13, the Jaguars were able to punch the ball away from the Saints’ Drew Hicks on what ended up as Aquinas’ fifth turnover. When Jack Ebner of Mill Valley came up with the ball it looked like the Jaguars had clinched their second consecutive trip to the state championship.
Mill Valley, though, had to get one more punt off. And on that punt, the Saints went for the block and ended up roughing Mill Valley punter and quarterback Brody Flaming.
“When I kicked it, I knew I was going to get hit, so I was just ready for it,” Flaming said.
After the penalty, the Jaguars just took a knee and were ready to start the celebration.
“It’s an amazing feeling that not a lot of people get to have, and I’ve had it twice already,” Flaming said of getting back to the title game.
The mounting turnovers in the first half proved to be costly for the Saints. Mill Valley took advantage with a solid running attack. Flaming led drives for both of Mill Valley’s scores. His 23-yard scamper put the Jaguars up early.
“We knew ball security was going to be huge tonight both ways, and obviously we capitalized on some big ones,” Mill Valley coach Joel Applebee said.
Flaming’s ability to extend plays with his legs or his arm was the reason Mill Valley kept its advantage over the Aquinas defense. In the harsh wind conditions, Flaming ended up with 97 total yards, but he made them all count.
“He has so much poise this year, and he’s just gotten so much better,” Applebee said. “He’s really done a great job of leading this offense. He makes multiple reads every single play and for him do that is very difficult especially in a game like tonight, and he did an outstanding job.”
Aquinas quarterback Will Swanson also showed off his ability through the air and on the ground. His 179 total yards and rushing touchdown gave Aquinas a big chance to win the game.