With school shut down, Rockhurst football practices with help from nearby neighbors

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Year in and year out, it might be the metro's most celebrated high school football match-up.

If not for some kindness from another local high school, Rockhurst (1-0) might not have been ready for it.

The Hawklets might be ready for football, but they couldn't have imagined the crazy week they'd witness in the days leading up to their annual match-up with Blue Springs (1-0).

Practicing out of a bag isn't in most teams' playbooks. Rockhurst's coaches didn't have any choice.

The Hawklets missed classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, in part, due to a water main break at the school. Monday was Labor Day, and that evening, a ruptured pipe was discovered. A school spokesperson said it left the school's primary building with no running water.

The school's beloved football program wasn't allowed to practice on their campus, as a safety precaution.

"It's been, maybe, one of the oddest weeks I've ever had," said Tony Severino, longtime Hawklets coach.

Severino and his staff were in a jam.

Rockhurst leaders found a temporary practice home at nearby Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park. Mickey Masterson, North's athletic director, confirmed that Rockhurst had rented the school's primary practice field, and potentially, saved Rockhurst's week of preparation.

Since they didn't have classes to attend, the Hawklets practiced during traditional school hours, just before Blue Valley North would use the field.

"We all have our routines. I've had one for about 50 years," Severino laughed. "You want to get this done on Monday and this done on Tuesday, and we've all had to adjust."

"I think the coaching staff does a great job of getting you focused on what really matters. That's getting the things done in practice that you need to get done," said Nick Smrt, Rockhurst quarterback. "It's hard to throw them off at all. If they're not thrown off, we're not going to get thrown off either."

Severino and his players openly thanked Masterson, and other Blue Valley North leaders, for the hospitality.

However, it was an unusual sight, seeing Rockhurst practice on a field adorned with Blue Valley North's name on the school building in the near distance.

"It's been weird. We're making it work," said Owen Lawson, Rockhurst kicker/punter. "We'll make it through it. We're Rock boys. We're strong."

"It's like I tell the kids. Our opponent doesn't care," Severino concluded. "We've still got to show up and play on Friday night."

Friday's meeting between the Hawklets and Wildcats is due to begin Friday at 7 p.m.

It will be the final regular season meeting between the two schools under Severino's leadership at Rockhurst, as he has announced his retirement at season's end. During his tenure there, the Hawklets have won seven state championships.

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