by Michael Smith
Grain Valley head football coach David Allie threw a curve ball at Belton from the start.
In Tuesday’s Suburban White Conference matchup with the Pirates, after Allie’s team forced them to punt on the opening drive, the veteran coach did something he had not done all year.
He started defensive end Jake Allen at full back and on Grain Valley’s first drive, the senior made a couple of big plays to help the team score a touchdown on its opening possession.
That, along with four turnovers forced by the Eagles defense, helped propel Grain Valley to a 44-0 thrashing of Belton Friday on the road.
Allen caught a 12-yard pass from quarterback Caleb Larson and broke free for a 36-yard run on a trap run. That helped set up the Eagles first touchdown on Larson’s 9-yard run on a rollout to the left to make it 7-0 at the 5:32 mark in the first period.
“He and (linebacker) Brody Baker have experience in the backfield,” Allie said. “We felt tonight, what (Belton) was going to give us defensively, that we had to have a true full back in there. We wanted to run the ball tough inside, Jake did that. He’s a kid who can play two ways. We like to platoon to keep guys fresh.”
Allen’s teammates were certainly impressed by Allen’s performance on offense.
“We were running Jake in practice and he was powerful,” sophomore running back DJ Harris said. “I was really surprised how he caught on to it. On his big run, I thought he was going to crib it, but he got his wheels going.”
Added junior safety Gabe Storment: “Jake Allen is a dog. That (36-yard) run made me so happy.”
Allen’s contributions on the first drive jump started a dominant performance for Grain Valley (4-2).
The first of four turnovers for Belton resulted in an Eagles touchdown as Storment got the first pick six of his career early in the second period when Pirates quarterback Lane Cross floated a pass over the middle and the junior made the interception and returned it 62 yards for a score.
“It felt good, all I saw was the end zone,” Storment said. “I knew I had it. We were in Cover 1 and I pretty much just sat there, backpedaled four steps and got it. I left their receiver open for a little bit because I knew I could go back and make the play.”
Junior linebacker Cole Elliott also got an interception that was returned to the Belton 6 and senior linebacker Brody Baker and Allen both recovered fumbles at the Pirate 22 and 32, respectively.
Overall, it was an impressive defensive performance for Grain Valley. The Eagles took advantage of Belton starting quarterback Gio Mack being out of the game with an injury. Not only did its defense force four turnovers, it held Belton to only 163 yards of total offense and 3.9 yards per play.
“We knew when they were going to run a buck sweep and we knew when they were going to run a counter,” Allen said. “Their guards would sit back when they pulled, so we got light calls. Our linebackers knew where to go and when to do it.”
On offense, the Eagles totaled 224 yards, which included 202 yards on the ground. Grain Valley got a 8-yard scoring run from senior running back Christian Lanear; wide receiver Noah Olah hit paydirt on a 3-yard rush; Ty Williams went into the end on a 17-yard jaunt untouched; and Harris punched it in from four yards out.
All season long Allie has touted his “three-headed monster” in the backfield as he’s split carries between Harris, Lanear and Williams. Harris missed two weeks due to a bone bruise in his ankle but he made his return Friday as he’s being eased back into game action.
“It felt good being back in overall,” Harris said. “At first, (the injury) was a high ankle sprain, but then I got it needled and got it looked at. We ended up figuring out it was a pretty bad bone bruise. I ended up taking it easy.”
Defensive end Jake Allen caught a 12-yard pass from quarterback Caleb Larson and broke free for a 36-yard run on a trap run. That helped set up the Eagles first touchdown on Larson’s 9-yard run on a rollout to the left to make it 7-0 at the 5:32 mark in the first period. Photo credit: Clara Jaques
Sophomore DJ Harris on a 4-yard run, bringing the score to 28-0 on Belton. Photo credit: Clara Jaques
The first of four turnovers for Belton resulted in an Eagles touchdown as junior safety Gabe Storment got the first pick six of his career early in the second period when Pirates quarterback Lane Cross floated a pass over the middle and the junior made the interception and returned it 62 yards for a score. Photo credit; Clara Jaques