ANDREW JANSEN / JOURNAL Darius Carey, CBC, in the Cadets 66-28 win over SLUH in the Class 6 semi-final.

Darius Carey’s helmet hit the turf and rolled. The senior defensive lineman and tight end had a rush of anger come over him. CBC coach Scott Pingel walked onto the field, picked up the helmet and greeted Carey with a hug. Carey’s frustration was understandable. Everyone wearing the Cadets colors was frustrated. It was just that kind of night for the purple and gold.

CBC was unable to bring home its first state football championship. The Cadets (13-1) were knocked off by Blue Springs South (12-2) 40-37 last Friday in the Class 6 state championship game at the Edward Jones Dome. It’s the second title game appearance for CBC, and it’s first since 2006—when it was also defeated by Blue Springs South. Carey says Blue Springs South was able to do something most teams on CBC’s schedule were not—it hit them right between the eyes. “We have enough team speed to get guys on the outside,” Carey, 17, says. “They went at us right up the gut. That’s one of our weakest spots.”

This just made Carey that much more frustrated. A senior captain, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Carey is a defensive guy. He’s loved nothing more than laying a good lick on someone since he started playing the game when he was 7. He still remembers the first time he laid a slobber-knocker hit on an opponent and thought to himself, That felt good!

“It was in eighth grade; he sat out the rest of the game,” Carey says.

To be gashed the way the Cadets defense was at times was brutal. Carey says Blue Springs South was just so fundamentally strong it was nearly impossible to bring down their ball carrier after just a few yards. “They kept executing,” he says. “They had good blockers, and they got into the second level of our defense.”

Carey can appreciate good offense. He was a quarterback until the start of his sophomore season. He says he had the job as a youth because he had a cannon of an arm. But once the coaches came to him and asked if he’d transition primarily to the defensive side, he was content putting aside his signal calling days. “Coach talked to me and said he needed me on defense,” Carey says. “It all worked out.”

Carey was one of the Cadets’ top defensive playmakers. He finished the season with three sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 62 total tackles and one touchdown return. That one touchdown was enormous. It came against SLUH in the semifinals as the Cadets pinned 38 points on the Junior Billikens in the first quarter. Carey’s score turned a relatively close game into a blowout.

As his helmet was rolling towards Pingel, Carey sank to the turf, drained by a year’s worth of work that came up just short of something so special. When the Cadets were presented the runner-up trophy, it was all Carey could do not to leave it right there on the field. No one sweats, bleeds and sacrifices to say they’re No. 2. The only place Carey found some consolation was in his team and what it achieved this season. “This is one of the better teams I’ve ever been a part of,” he says. “I’m proud of what we accomplished, I’m proud of my team.”