by Michael Smith
When Grain Valley freshman DJ Harris took a right-side toss to the end zone from 28-yards out, the Grain Valley student section started a chant.
“He’s a freshman! He’s a freshman!” the crowd chanted.
That’s a chant that is common when a freshman does well in any high school sport. While the chant can sometimes be a knock on the other team for letting a freshman do something productive in their sport, it likely was meant more as a compliment for the talented ball carrier.
That touchdown was one of three for Harris on the night as he helped power his Eagles to a 48-13 rout of Truman Friday at Moody Murray Memorial Field.
Harris, who serves as the No. 2 running back behind senior starter Jaxon Wyatt, has proven to be a strong complementary piece. He has four rushing touchdowns on the season and that’s second most on the team behind quarterback Caleb Larson.
On Friday, he finished with 59 yards on eight carries.
“He had a fumble last time, but tonight he came back strong and got three touchdowns and didn’t fumble,” Grain Valley head coach David Allie said. “That shows maturity and growth.”
Allie isn’t the only one who has been impressed with Harris. Wyatt had high praise for the freshman after the game.
“He’s going to the NFL,” Wyatt said.
So, what did Harris think about Wyatt’s comments?
“I have to keep working for that. There is still a lot more to come and a lot to learn,” Harris said with a chuckle.
He will have his opportunity to potentially be the lead running back next season. For now, that honor belongs to Wyatt, who also had a big game. He finished with 72 yards on 12 carries and his first two touchdowns of the season.
“Jaxon is just a dog,” Harris said. “The running back duo we have is amazing.”
Grain Valley quarterback Caleb Larson added 58 yards on eight carries and a score. He also completed 4 of 11 passes for 117 yards. The Eagles (2-2) totaled 324 yards of offense.
They led 17-0 at the end of the first quarter, held a 34-0 advantage at halftime and had its biggest lead in the fourth quarter of 48-0 before Truman scored two touchdowns against Grain Valley’s backups on defense.
The Grain Valley varsity defense created eight quarterback pressures and the team overall held the Patriots (0-4) to just 170 total yards of offense, with 136 yards of those coming against the Eagles’ backups when the game was already out of reach.
The defense was put into a good position for success largely because of kicker Austin Schmitt. The junior got eight touchbacks on 10 kickoff attempts. The other two were perfectly executed onside kicks. One was recovered and the other was dropped out of bounds.
Schmitt, who is also a two-time all-state selection for the soccer team, easily made two field goals from 32 and 34 yards out.
“He’s a dude,” Allie said. “He’s worked really hard over the summer, and he’s taken to coaching really well and he has a special leg.”
In practice, Schmitt can make field goals from 50-plus yards out. His strong leg is a reason why he’s debating between playing football or soccer in college.
“It feels good that I can kick them that far now,” Schmitt said. “My freshman year, I could maybe kick it 35 yards. Now I can kick it 55. I just put in the work over the summer.”
Anthony Greco led the Eagles in receiving with three catches for 60 yards. Linebacker Gage Forkner led the defense with five tackles and 1.5 coming by loss.
Freshman DJ Harris, who serves as the No. 2 running back behind senior starter Jaxon Wyatt, has proven to be a strong complementary piece. He has four rushing touchdowns on the season and that’s second most on the team behind quarterback Caleb Larson. On Friday, he finished with 59 yards on eight carries. Photo credit: John Overstreet
Jaxon Wyatt finished with 72 yards on 12 carries and his first two touchdowns of the season.
Photo credit: John Overstreet