by Michael Smith
This Friday went much better for the Grain Valley football team than the last.
The Eagles committed five turnovers in a 33-14 loss to Suburban White Conference rival Fort Osage in Week 1.
This time, the players got to have a little bit of fun. In the second half, players like senior running back Christian Lanear and junior defensive end Rhylan Alcanter wore the headsets the coaches usually have and got to communicate with the other coaches in the press box.
Head coach David Allie also got to play some of his backups in the second half, including freshman punter Colton Clyman, who was greeted by multiple varsity players with pats on the back and cheers on the sideline after unleashing a 40-plus yard punt during a 43-28 win over the Bulldogs at home.
“It was fun,” Lanear said. “We were supporting our teammates. We were having some laughs when we had the headsets on and were taking some pictures. It was a little bit of a relaxed game.”
So did Lanear or any of the other players try to convince the coaches to let them call a play with the headsets on?
“We all tried but it was to no avail,” Lanear said while sporting a big grin.
It was a great game for the Eagles who scored on every possession but their final one in the first half, and the only reason they did not was because they ran the clock out on purpose to go into halftime with a 43-7 lead.
“The offense, defense and special teams took care of business in the first half,” Allie said. “We gave up a few big plays but were able to come back and make some big plays on offense. We were able to end the game without any turnovers, which was our main focus.”
In last week’s game against Fort Osage, senior quarterback Caleb Larson had three interceptions and one fumble in a rare off game for him.
He bounced back in a big way against the Bulldogs as he had five carries for 38 yards and two touchdowns and he also completed 3 of 6 passes for 32 yards and another score.
“It felt good,” Larson said. “Watching film, it looked like Grandview had a great team. We had to come out and forget about last week. I made some mental errors and had four turnovers (against Fort Osage), I can’t do that. We lost that game because of me.”
“We came out hot and we came out hard and we had a quick tempo. We all had a great team effort.”
Larson helped the Eagles take a 37-0 lead to put the game out of reach by scoring the Eagles’ first touchdown on an option run up the middle for seven yards; a 8-yard jaunt for a score after a fake handoff early in the second period; and hit a wide-open Anthony Greco, who ran a corner route, for a 19-yard scoring pass.
While Larson rebounded from a tough game, he got a lot of help from his offensive line and running backs. The Grain Valley running back trio of DJ Harris, Lanear and Ty Williams each had a touchdown.
Harris scored on a 58-yard run after finding a big hole on the left side; Lanear got an assist from the offensive line when it pushed him through a pile of Bulldog defenders for a 5-yard TD run; and Ty Williams answered Grandview’s first touchdown with a 3-yard scoring run to help the Eagles take a 43-6 lead into halftime, which also included a safety on a botched snap on a punt attempt by Grandview.
On the day, the Eagles averaged a healthy 7.9 yards per rushing attempt led by Harris, who had seven carries for 105 yards. Lanear, who scored his first varsity TD, gained 75 yards on 10 carries and Williams, who also had his first varsity score, toted the ball five times for 59 yards.
“Christian is a good leader along with Ty,” Grain Valley center Blake Robinson said. “DJ is a heck of a runner. He is what I would like to call a Derrick Henry (the Tennessee Titans starting running back). He’s such a powerhouse.”
The rushing success was made possible by an Eagles offensive line that got a strong push all game against Grandview’s defensive line.
“There were a lot of critics this summer talking about how our line is going to be and are they going to be able to meet the standards of last year?” Larson said. “Overall, through the first two games, I thought they did a great job.”
Added Lanear: “The offensive line was firing on all cylinders today. They had intensity from the start.”
“I felt really good about our performance,” Robinson said. “I have to give a shoutout to everyone on the offensive line. Our communication was on point tonight. We’d see something going on at the (right) side, we’d communicate that to Caleb, and our first touchdown was a trap right.
“Even as big guys, we have fast feet. The key to our success was our footwork and communication.”
Grandview scored 22 points in the fourth period against Grain Valley’s backups.
The Eagles (1-1) will take on the Northmen of Oak Park next Friday on the road.
Senior quarterback Caleb Larson had five carries for 38 yards and two touchdowns, and he also completed 3 of 6 passes for 32 yards and another score. Photo credit: Clara Jaques
DJ Harris heads to the end zone against the Bulldogs of Grandview. Photo credit: John Overstreet
Senior running back Christian Lanear stiff arming a Grandview tackler. Photo credit: Clara Jaques
Senior Keagan Hart with the game ending interception. Photo credit: John Overstreet