by John Unrein
Football is a game of adjustments. The coaching staff that seizes upon the opportunity to first modify strategy tends to reap the rewards. That was the case for the Grain Valley Eagles as they shut out the Raytown South Cardinals 37-0 on Friday, October 25th.
Grain Valley had only produced one touchdown by the end of the first quarter. Much of the Eagles offense centered around a four wide receiver set out of their spread offense. This left the edge of the Cardinals defense narrower and downhill runs like trap were not producing what they typically do through B gap.
Head Coach David Allie introduced single and double tight end sets to widen Raytown South’s defensive front that yielded results on the ground for the Eagle’s rushing attack.
“We had scouted them and how they would adjust to tight end sets. Introducing the tight end and later adding a fullback opened up trap and ISO runs for us,” Allie said.
Eagles Running Back Jamore Goulden shouldered 16 carries for 73 yards and two touchdowns. The senior’s fortitude was front and center on several goal line and short yardage runs that yielded results as Goulden fought his way through contact while securing the football.
Raytown South would introduce an eighth defender to the box during the second half. The addition of a Cardinal safety near the line of scrimmage opened two doors for the Eagles offensive attack.
First, was single outside coverage on Grain Valley wide receivers. Senior Wide Receiver Gavin Oyler and Sophomore Wide Receiver Logan Pratt were able to garner separation from the coverage of Cardinal cornerbacks.
Both challenged Raytown South’s single high safety with vertical and post routes that yielded completions against a Raytown South secondary that could not provide support over the top against multiple downfield threats. Oyler lead the Eagles with 58 receiving yards on four receptions.
“We talked at halftime and said we have to execute better in the passing game. We wanted to take advantage of them having only one safety in the middle of the field at times. When we execute on offense, we are dangerous. When we don’t, we’re not as good as we could be,” Allie said.
Second, was play action waggle with the quarterback boot. Junior Quarterback Cole Keller held the fake a count longer on the false handoff than he had in previous weeks, allowing the contain by the defensive end to crumble as Keller would only have to outrun one safety to the end zone.
Keller did just that on two occasions. The Eagles signal caller would end up with 86 yards rushing on 9 carries and 2 touchdowns. Both rushing scores would come off play action waggle runs, including Keller diving into the end zone near the pilon with two minutes left in the second quarter.
The Eagles would carry a 21-0 lead into halftime before they would go onto to establish a running clock near the eight minute mark of the fourth quarter following a successful 25 yard field goal attempt by Senior Kicker Jack Knust.
Grain Valley’s defense would match the tenacity of its offense throughout the game. Eagles black shirt defenders would force five punts, two turnovers on downs, and four interceptions against an athletic Cardinals offense.
Preserving the shutout through interceptions were Senior Defensive Back Cavon Brooks, Junior Defensive Back Brayden Terry, Junior Safety Cole Keller, and Junior Linebacker Hunter Newsom.
Brooks was the first to pick off the opposition with 2:35 left in the first quarter.
“I maintained backing up in my drop and stayed over the top. He threw it my way and I was able to secure the football,” Brooks said.
Terry would provide the second interception for the Eagles with 1:12 left in the second quarter.
“I could tell he (the wide receiver) hesitated to go outside and then went inside on a post. I was able to keep inside leverage and get the football,” Terry said.
Keller would be next in the quartet of interceptions as time would expire in the first half. The Eagles would go to a prevent defense near the end of the half and Keller was inserted as a third safety with instructions to not let anyone behind him.
“We estimated that they would throw the ball to their number one receiver (Carter Raevon) that late in the half. I was positioned over the top of him on that side of the field. The ball was thrown short and I picked it off,” Keller said.
Newsom would shut down what little momentum Raytown South could build on a drive in the second half, with his 54 yard interception return down to the Cardinal’s 13 yard line. Newsom had faked a blitz on the down and retreated to the flat where he captured the Eagles fourth and final interception at the 9:52 mark of the fourth quarter.
“We had been blitzing off the edge. Coach (Carpino) called a fake blitz, and I vacated to the flat where I looked the ball in for the interception,” Newsom said.
Allie would credit defensive backs coach Dominic Giangrosso for placing members of the Eagles secondary in spots to be successful. Giangrosso would move safeties to landmarks in the secondary throughout the game, based on formation and tendencies that Raytown South’s offense was displaying.
“First of all, hats off to their wide receiving core. Especially, number one (Carter Raevon). We did bracket him and make adjustments at halftime. We decided to rush only three down lineman and take away the hook to flat area. That helped us get our hands on the football defensively,” Allie said.
The win moves Grain Valley to a record of 6-3 on the season. The Missouri State High School Activities Association computer formula for Class 4 District 7 football has awarded Grain Valley to host their next game on Friday, November 1st at Moody Murray Stadium against the same Raytown South Cardinals. The winner would go on to face the Grandview Bulldogs or Belton Pirates, who will also be in action that same date.