by John Unrein
Friday, September 6th was the third time the Grain Valley Eagles had faced off against the Grandview Bulldogs in football over a twelve-month span. It was apparent that the two teams knew each other well, with Grain Valley’s narrow 6-3 win.
Special teams led by the kicking of Senior Jack Knust, the Eagles defense containing the speed of the Bulldog offense, and a Grain Valley rushing attack that churned out 167 yards rushing was the formula for victory.
Knust connected on field goals of 33 and 25 yards respectively. Both kicks were struck solid and left little room for doubt that they would clear the uprights. Eagles Head Football Coach David Allie was pleased with the way Knust performed in his welcome to varsity football.
“In some pressure-cooking situations, he came in and connected, including what was basically a walk off field goal. He’s a good kid. He’s pulling double duty with working his tail off in soccer. He had a soccer game last Friday and didn’t get a chance to kick for us,” Allie said.
“We adjusted his steps this week. He can nail the football with a two-step approach. What a weapon to have as a team.”
Knust’s two step field goal kicking approach helps to get the football away fast. It limits an opponent’s chance to get their hands up for a block during the kicking attempt.
Grandview was not as fortunate in the kicking game. Eagles Senior Defensive Lineman Michael Sanchez tipped a Grandview punt with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter. The punt spiraled awkwardly in the air towards the Bulldog sideline for no net yardage.
The crafty upperclassmen set up the block by taking a jab step to the outside of the Grandview blocker prior to coming back inside with leverage. The athletic move permitted Sanchez to complete the play and help shift momentum back in favor of the Eagles during the closing minutes of the game.
Sanchez also drew yeoman’s duty at defensive end against the two large Grandview offensive tackles. His efforts in getting his hands inside the man in front of him helped keep contain against the opposition’s speedy running backs.
“We worked our butts off this week to prepare for this game. Those are two of the best offensive tackles in our conference. Getting to compete against them was something,” Sanchez said.
“Getting my hand on the punt was about sacrifice. You have to go 100 percent the whole time.”
Linebackers Senior Seth Dankenbring and Junior Hunter Newsom were active in their pursuit and tackling the entire game. Three different defensive series saw the duo record tackles for loss or no gain on successive downs when their team needed a stop.
Both Dankenbring and Newsome put on a clinic in using the sideline boundary as leverage in pinning in a ball carrier in pursuit. Furthermore, they successfully worked in tandem to fill and replace when the Bulldogs attempted to stretch the Eagles defense with outside zone runs.
Dankenbring and Newsom glowed about the job done up front by their defensive tackles in holding down the Grandview offensive line so that they could flow freely on the second level of the defense.
“Seth and I trust each other in that we will be in the correct spot based on our keys. You have to take care of your responsibility and master your craft so that the tackle may be made,” Newsom said.
Dankenbring added, “Our tempo tonight was unreal. The fight we had was incredible. Our defensive line worked their butts off every down. They took on double teams and made our life a lot easier.”
This was the second week in a row that the “Big Trio,” as they refer to themselves were credited with significantly contributing to the team win due to their efforts at defensive tackle. Senior Steele Blackmon and Juniors Quincy Jones and Donovan McBride were stout up front along the defensive line for the Eagles.
Grain Valley struggled to overcome penalties during the game. This would include a forty-yard touchdown run by Senior Running Back Jamore Goulden that was nullified due to an illegal procedure penalty. The negated run would’ve added to a big night for Goulden who racked up 94 yards on 22 carries.
Allie had high praise for Goulden who battled through a hamstring strain and toe injury throughout the course of the game.
“Jamore is a warrior. He was selected one of our captains for a reason. He outworks people by running and blocking hard. Give him a crease and he will take it out of the gate for all he can. He does a great job,” Allie said.
Grain Valley will host the Smithville Warriors at Moody Murray Stadium on Friday, September 13th. Allie knows that the Eagles will have their work cut out for them against the defending conference champions.
“We will be facing one of the best backs in the conference when the Warriors visit. His brother also happens to be the quarterback. They have at least two athletes we will have to contain. We both came into the conference together last year and they beat us at their place,” Allie said.
“We didn’t perform very well. This team has its work cut out for us. We will return to the practice field this week in finding more ways to score. It should be a battle.”
Pictured Left to Right: Junior Linebacker Hunter Newsom, Senior Linebacker Seth Dankenbring, and Senior Defensive End Michael Sanchez.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Senior Kicker Jack Knust connects on a field goal.
Photo credit: John Overstreet