by Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Ty Williams doesn’t like fumbling the ball.
That is evident when he is on the football field as he always puts two hands on the ball when quarterback Caleb Larson hands it to him.
Even while being careful, the junior always has the potential to break off big runs.
He did exactly that in Friday’s Suburban White Conference matchup with Raytown as he exploded for 160 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries to help his team earn a 28-14 victory at Moody Murry Memorial Field.
“I just don’t want to fumble the ball so I put two hands on the ball,” Williams said. “When no one is around me, that’s when I go to one arm and start pumping. That ball is the most valuable thing on the field, so I don’t want to lose it.”
With the win, the Eagles (7-2) won the Suburban White Conference with a 4-0 league record. Not only that, they earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 5 District 7 tournament and will get a first-round bye.
“We got a couple linebackers banged up,” Grain Valley head coach David Allie said. “It’s nice to have that time off and heal a little bit.”
Even while using two hands to carry the football, Williams still broke four runs of more than 10 yards.
“We were minus-7 in our two losses,” Allie said of his team’s turnover ratio. “In our six wins, we are plus-12. So that’s what you have to do, control the ball and not fumble.
“Ty does a great job of that. He keeps two hands on the ball and runs fast. He reads the holes pretty well.”
His longest TD run came on the first play in the second half when he found a huge hole up the middle for a score to put the Eagles ahead 14-7 following a 68-yard scoring run. At the 2:22 mark in the third, he scored on a 2-yard run that was set up by a 44-yard pass from quarterback Caleb Larson to wide receiver Noah Olah that made it 21-14 with 2:22 left in the third.
The junior later iced the game and made it 28-14 with a 6-yard TD run with 4:36 left in the game.
“That dude is a tank,” Grain Valley senior wide receiver Noah Olah said of Williams. “He can break any arm tackle out there.”
Olah was also a big part of the offense as he caught two passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. His score came with 40.2 seconds left in the first half.
He dropped an open pass earlier in the drive that likely would have been a touchdown, but the senior overcame adversity to make a big catch on fourth-and-6 as he hauled in a 39-yard TD pass from Caleb Larson.
“They started playing their safety 20 yards off (the line of scrimmage) and I still beat him,” Olah said.
Grain Valley had to overcome a sluggish start following a 5-yard TD run from Raytown quarterback Nathan Whitebear that put the Eagles in a 7-0 hole with 6:32 left in the first.
That Raytown drive was aided by two fourth down conversions, including a fake punt on fourth-and-15 that resulted in a 26 yards pass from Whitebear to Travon Johnson.
After the drive, Baker shouted at his defensive teammates to try and get them fired up, telling them “not to put their heads down” and “we are better than them.”
“My job is to keep the team in the game,” Baker said. “We are a family out there. I just got to let them know what we need to do better and when we get down on ourselves, I got to let them know we don’t need to.”
Baker’s motivational speech seemed to work as Grain Valley held Raytown to just seven points the rest of the way. The only other Raytown touchdown came on fourth-and-25 at the 4:31 mark in the third quarter when Whitebear hit Trevon Johnson for a 32-yard scoring pass.
The Eagles defense limited the Blue Jays to 304 yards of offense despite losing the time of possession battle as Raytown had the ball for 32:38, while Grain Valley only had it for 15:06.
Raytown seemed to be on its way to tying the game midway through the fourth period as it had the ball at the Grain Valley 26-yard line. Up to this point, the Blue Jays had converted all six of their fourth down attempts into first downs.
On fourth-and-3, Grain Valley senior Jake Allen tackled Freddy Ersery for just a 1-yard gain, which resulted in a turnover on downs with 8:32 left.
On Allen’s big tackle, he was lined up against Raytown’s 6-foot-7, 345 pound left tackle Logan Reichert, who is a four-star recruit according to rivals.com and has committed to the University of Missouri. Even in a tough matchup, Allen beat Reichert for the biggest tackle of the game.
“He’s an animal out there,” Grain Valley junior Brody Baker said of Allen. “He was lined up against one of the best lineman in this area. We put Jake on him for a reason.”
Grain Valley scored on the following possession and got a turnover on downs on Raytown’s final possession to secure the first-round bye.
Junior Ty Williams exploded for 160 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries to help his team earn a 28-14 victory at Moody Murry Memorial Field. Photo credit: Clara Jaques
Olah was also a big part of the offense as he caught two passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. His score came with 40.2 seconds left in the first half. Photo credit: Clara Jaques