by Michael Smith
That’s what Grain Valley senior Jackson Stewart exclaimed following the football team’s Homecoming game Friday.
Not only was Stewart a Homecoming king candidate as announced during halftime, but he got his first career varsity interception as his Eagles dominated in all three phases of the game during a 52-20 drubbing of Columbia Hickman at Moody Murry Memorial Field.
Jackson’s interception was one of three turnovers forced by Grain Valley. Senior Keagan Hart also had a pick and junior Rhylan Alcanter recovered a fumble on Hickman’s first play of the game.
Midway through the second period, Hickman quarterback Cole Harrell lobbed a deep pass. Hart and Stewart went for the catch at the same time and it was the latter who came away with the interception and returned it to the Kewpie 15-yard line.
“It felt good,” Stewart said. “I was waiting for it for a long time, and everyone has been talking to me about it. They were all waiting for me to get one. I didn’t take it as far back as I wanted to, but it is what it is.”
Veteran head coach David Allie said he was happy for his senior.
“You have to like that,” said Allie, whose team improved to 5-2 and won its fourth consecutive game. “He’s a senior leader and he’s played two years for us. He is one of the nicest kids on the team. He almost took it to the house, but it was a special moment for him.”
That wasn’t the only first on the team. Backup quarterback Brek Sloan got his first career varsity passing touchdown. He rolled to his left and found a wide-open Noah Olah for a 19-yard score, which put the Eagles ahead 52-8 with 2 minutes and 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
“It felt great,” Sloan said. “Our O line gave me a great look. I read the read. I did the easy part by throwing it and Noah ran a great route and it was an easy walk in touchdown.”
The defense also dominated, holding Hickman to just 206 yards of total offense, which was mostly against the Eagles’ backups. That unit even scored as sophomore Toby Inman got his first varsity sack of Tionne Milo in the end zone late in the first half, which resulted in two points and a safety.
“Our secondary allows our (defensive line) to get sacks,” Stewart said. “Our D line makes it where the quarterback doesn’t have time to throw it down the field. Our linebackers are stopping the run and getting interceptions.
“Every single one of our players are one of the best players in the (Suburban White) Conference. I truly believe that.”
On offense, the offensive line led the way, opening up huge holes for the running backs. The Eagles totaled 311 yards with 249 of those coming on the ground.
Left tackle Luke Arndorfer, left guard Stylz Blackmon, center Blake Robinson, right tackle Korbyn Goodwin and right tackle Beckett Disco worked as a cohesive unit for the Eagles, paving the way for seven touchdowns.
It starts with communication, and we communicated a lot better,” Disco said. “We made some changes to the line overall and the coaches helped us out. We have been playing well for the majority of the season.”
It helped the offense that Grain Valley had an average start field position of the opponent’s 42-yard line.
Grain Valley put up 43 points before Hickman even got a first down. DJ Harris scored on a 16-yard run; senior Jake Allen ran it in on a 2-point conversion; quarterback Caleb Larson hit wide receiver Anthony Greco for a 9-yard scoring pass; junior Ty Williams scored on runs of 51 and 4; and senior Christian Lanear found paydirt from 11 and and 14 yards out for the team’s first 43 points.
Harris led Grain Valley with 79 yards on nine carries, Williams had 58 yards on four totes and Lanear scampered for 46 yards on seven attempts.
Alcanter paced the defense with 3.5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and sack.
“It’s second to none right now. We are playing at a level we’ve never played at,” Sloan said. “We carry this each and every week. I don't think that a lot of teams can beat us in the metro.”
Backup quarterback Brek Sloan got his first career varsity passing touchdown. Photo credit: Clara Jaques
Photo credit: Clara Jaques
Junior Ty Williams scored on runs of 51 and 4. Photo credit: John Overstreet
DJ Harris led Grain Valley with 79 yards on nine carries. Photo credit: John Overstreet