by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Eagles Football team could not overcome the speed and size they faced when they traveled to play the Raytown Blue Jays on Friday, October 4th, falling to the Jays 33-7.
Raytown utilized an unbalanced formation with sweeps to speedy Senior Wide Receiver Dontae Manning along with deep fade passes by Senior Quarterback Joe Campbell to put up 33 points on the scoreboard. Defensively, the Blue Jays stacked the box with eight defenders against the Eagles in slowing down their running game and applying heavy pass rush pressure.
The Eagles were able to move the football between the twenties throughout the first half. Drives would stall inside the red zone, including as time expired in the second quarter at the six-yard line following a 20-yard strike through the air from Junior Quarterback Cole Keller to Junior Wide Receiver Parker Bosserman. Grain Valley would go into halftime trailing 13-0 after amassing 134 yards offensively.
The start of the second half witnessed the Eagles recovering one of three Blue Jays onside kick attempts for the game. Grain Valley would capitalize on the good field position and drive 42 yards for their only score. Keller followed the lead blocking of Senior Fullback Seth Dankenbring on a six-yard sweep to the end zone.
Raytown would score three more touchdowns during the final two quarters of the game against a tired Grain Valley defense. The Eagles fought hard to contain the Blue Jays offense.
Junior Linebacker Hunter Newsom made several key tackles in space and with his teammates. Both Newsom and Junior Defensive Tackle Quincy Jones made tackles for loss during the first half of play at critical times.
Newsom’s gutsy effort continued into the second half as took on blocks against Raytown’s large offensive line in continuing to set the edge for the Eagles defense. This was done despite being hobbled by an injury to his leg.
“We had a plan that we executed defensively and practiced all week. We did our best. Later in the second half we lost momentum. We need to work to get better,” Newsom said.
“We have to play our ball game next week and moving forward without letting an opposing team influence us. If we take care of what we can take care of, we will come out with a win.”
Other Eagle defenders showing continued growth on the night included Junior Cornerback Trent Knox and Freshman Safety Keegan Hart. Raytown continually tested Knox during the second half on long pass plays his way. Knox responded by flipping his hips and maintaining coverage against Blue Jays receivers, including an incomplete fade pass that saw play spill out on to the stadium track with Knox landing hard prior to getting up for the next down.
Hart has been thrust into action as a freshman due to injuries. He has responded by being consistent in his reads and not backing down from taking on larger upper classman who he must tackle. Hart has used leverage to wrap up opponents and turn them in his tackle successfully despite being outsized.
Head Coach David Allie reflected on his team’s efforts after the game.
“We had success, but they were able to stop us at the right times, and we dealt with penalties on drives. I love the way my team competed against a bigger class school. We would’ve liked to be on the winning side of things. However, I am happy with the way these players fought to the very end and no one gave up or conceded defeat,” Allie said.
“We will evaluate film and look to fix our inconsistencies. Offensively, we didn’t stay ahead of the chains like we did last week. We had success running iso and down. We must score more, though. We were not able to throw the ball the way we wanted tonight against their man coverage and the pressure they were able to apply. Defensively, we bent but hustled and fought. They had some big plays against us.”
The Eagles move to a 3-3 record on the season. They will next host the Kearney Bulldogs on Friday, October 11th at 7pm in a Suburban Conference matchup. Kearney will roll into Moody Murray Stadium with a 4-2 record, fresh off a victory the previous week against the Belton Pirates.
Allie identified keys to victory heading into the game.
“We can’t lick our wounds. We have to come out and play. Hopefully, we will be better health wise heading into the game against Kearney. They are a good team and a conference opponent. We can’t let one (loss) turn into two. Our kids our tough and will learn what they need to from the loss against Raytown before we get back on track and capture momentum heading into the end of the season,” Allie said.
Junior Linebacker Hunter Newsom and a flock of Eagles smother Raytown’s quarterback.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Junior Quarterback Cole Keller keeps the ball on a quarterback sweep en route to the end zone.
Photo credit: John Overstreet