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The host Kansas City Blues won Heartland 7s Saturday in Lee’s Summit, Mo., beating the Glendale Raptors 31-12 in the final. The way the tournament played out sees the Blues, Glendale and the Denver Barbarians in a three-way tie for first place and a three-team race for the West's two berths to Nationals with one more qualifier to play July 26 in Omaha, Neb.
With just two pools of three, each team played only two pool matches. The most important meeting of the group stage featured Kansas City and Glendale. The winner would receive a bye to the semifinals and avoid a meeting with the Barbarians until, possibly, the final. The Blues took that contest 19-12, making their path to the championship that much easier.
As a result, Glendale had to beat the St. Louis Ramblers 43-0 in the quarterfinals and slug it out with rival Denver in the semifinals. The Raptors got the better of a depleted Denver side, 28-7, and the Blues crushed Omaha 36-0 in the other semifinal to set up the final.
Having traveled somewhat weak to begin with and played an extra game on the day, Glendale withered in the final. The Blues led from start to finish, running in four tries before halftime. Wing Kenny Scott touched down the first and Gannon Moore, a former small college football standout, the second. Both were results of the Blues attacking the fringes.
Kelly Mercer converted both of the early tries before adding his own, also converted, to extend the lead. And Ed Mills, making his summer debut for the Blues, added the back breaker to make it 26-0 going into intermission.
Glendale got on the board first in the second half with a Justin Pauga try, but reserve Walt Elder matched it. With both benches cleared, Glendale sub Victor Woo scored to bring the final tally to 31-12.
Kansas City’s fitness and depth proved to be the trump card in the final, and Glendale, for the second tournament in a row, was blown out in the 20-minute championship match. The Raptors have been outscored 92-12 in two finals so far this season.
Denver and Glendale will look to put their strongest sides of the summer on the field in Omaha in two weeks, and the Blues will hope to build on their performance and take advantage of a manageable three-hour drive. Whichever teams make it to the final will advance to Nationals with the West’s two bids.
|Pool A||Kansas City Blues||43-0||St. Louis Ramblers|
|Pool A||Kansas City Blues||19-12||Glendale Raptors|
|Pool A||Glendale Raptors||43-0||St. Louis Ramblers|
|Pool B||Omaha G.O.A.T.S.||34-0||St. Louis Bombers|
|Pool B||Denver Barbarians||19-7||Omaha G.O.A.T.S.|
|Pool B||Denver Barbarians||35-0||St. Louis Bombers|
|Quarterfinal||Glendale Raptors||45-0||St. Louis Bombers|
|Quarterfinal||Omaha G.O.A.T.S.||26-19||St. Louis Ramblers|
|Semifinal||Glendale Raptors||28-7||Denver Barbarians|
|Semifinal||Kansas City Blues||36-0||Omaha G.O.A.T.S.|
|Final||Kansas City Blues||31-12||Glendale Raptors|
|Team Name||Pts||Denver 6/21||Kansas City 7/12||Omaha 7/26|
|Kansas City Blues||8||3rd||1st|
|Gentlemen of Aspen||1||4th||DNP|