by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Eagles hung tough during the first half against the visiting Fort Osage Indians on November 19th. A stingy Eagles defense forced three turnovers during the first two quarters of play. The trio of opportunities on the change of possession would not favor Grain Valley as they were turned away from points each time. Fort Osage would go on to win the Class 5 quarterfinal playoff game by a score of 35-0.
The difference in the game was Fort Osage’s ability to move the football. The Indians would double their opponents’ total offensive output by amassing 381 total yards to the Eagles 191 total yards. Leading contributors for Fort Osage included Javen Hall who compiled 81 yards on the ground and a touchdown to match the efforts of Lorenzo Fenner who hauled in 6 receptions for 89 yards through the air.
A determined Indians squad would emerge from the locker room at the start of the second half and run off 35 unanswered points in route to their victory. The win affords the Indians the right to advance to the State semifinal round against Holt on November 26th.
Grain Valley leaned on the contributions of Caleb Larson and Keagan Hart throughout the contest. Larson would compile 55 yards on the ground, while Hart would provide 5 receptions for 65 yards. Defensively, the Eagles were led by Brody Baker, Gage Forkner, and Keagan Hart who attained 13.5, 11, and 4 tackles respectively.
Hart showed determination on both sides of the football in not wanting his season to end. Hart was consistently in the right place during the first half as he would come up with a fumble recovery at the end of the first quarter. Hart would also add an interception at the 6:56 mark of the second quarter for good measure.
Hart was aware of the toll that being on the field for 66 defensive snaps took on his team as he reflected on his team’s effort after the game.
“We executed our defensive keys well early in the game. We wore out during the second half due to being on the field for a long time. There’s nothing we can do about that except bounce back, line up, and play hard,” Hart said.
“We were determined to stay together. We are a family. This game as well as this season showed that we have each other’s backs and that we never give up on each other. We are not worried about what others think of us. I left it on all the field, and I am proud of that.”
The emergence of Hart’s leadership, along with that of his teammates has helped to squelch the void left by the likes Cole Keller, Jack Bailey, Hunter Newsom, and Donovan McBride. Last year’s seniors who during the two previous football campaigns helped the Eagles win back to back district championships. Their loss left many outside of Grain Valley wondering if the cupboard would be bare.
Head football coach David Allie is proud of what his squad has accomplished this season. A third consecutive district championship and continuity with new players at key positions like quarterback, linebacker, and offensive line are hallmarks of what can only be accomplished by a veteran coaching staff. This is something Allie did not take for granted as he offered final reflections of his team prior to exiting the field.
“Our defense had a great game plan for tonight. We were unable to capitalize on the opportunities we had, or that may have been a different second half for us. Credit them (Fort Osage) for their play tonight in getting this win,” Allie said.
“Us being able to replace as many starters as we did going into this (season) speaks volumes to the buy in of our players and their belief in this program. We have preached not to worry what anyone thinks outside of this locker room, and it shows. We had great senior leadership.”
Allie continued, “I cannot say enough about this group of seniors and what they did in the face of doubters and people outside of our program who wanted to lower expectations. This group did not let anything phase them. They had great attitudes and worked hard while having fun at practice. We appreciate their contributions.”
Junior Keagan Hart on offense turns to defense as he breaks up a near interception.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
An Eagles squad that had to replace an abundance of starters from last season cap off a successful campaign under Coach Allie’s leadership. GV finishes the season 8-4 after advancing to the Class 5 Quarterfinal Round of the playoffs. Photo credit: Valley News staff