By Stephen Bubalo PrepsKC staff writer
The situation was eerily similar to the one in Fort Osage head coach Ryan Schartz’s game script for Saturday’s Class 5 state quarterfinal against top-ranked Staley.
Trailing by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, the Indians drove down the field and scored on a Steven McBee 1-yard run to make it 7-6 with 1:18 remaining in the game.
It was decision time – go for the two-point conversion and the lead or make the extra point and hope for overtime.
“We had practiced it over and over. My mind was already made up,” Schartz said. “We were able to score and I felt like we had momentum, the kids were fired up and they had some adrenaline. We had that exact same situation in our script.”
Staley senior Eric Hensley flipped the script.
Hensley came charging off the edge on the two-point conversion, sacking McBee and preserving the 7-6 win after the Falcons recovered the ensuing onside kick.
“I saw the quarterback roll out, and he’s my guy,” Hensley said as he recalled the play. “I was ready to make a play.”
It was Hensley’s fifth sack of the season and by far his biggest.
“(Defensive coordinator) Coach (Phil) Lite dialed up a nice blitz and Eric made a great play,” Staley head coach Fred Bouchard said. “I’m glad we had him on the field. He made the play of the game.”
“I didn’t even know how big of play it was until after I made it,” Hensley said.
It was the type of play the Falcon defense had been making all game long, as they made life miserable for McBee and rest of the Indians offense.
In fact, that fourth-quarter scoring drive was the only time in the second half that Fort Osage was able to get a first down without the benefit of a penalty.
Bouchard said Lite came up after the game and apologized for not being as aggressive with his play calling on the final drive, but before that the Falcons repeatedly got pressure on McBee.
“Our defensive line is our strength. Our front seven did a great job,” Bouchard said. “My hat is off to our defensive coaches.”
The Fort Osage defense nearly matched Staley’s stop-for-stop, doing its best to slow down an explosive Falcon offense.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Schartz said. “They kept us in it until the end.”
The lone scoring drive for the Falcons came late in the second quarter and quarterback Trent Hosick was the catalyst.
The Falcons hurt themselves on the scoring drive with a penalty and a 12-yard loss on a backwards pass that went out of bounds, but Hosick bailed them out by converting on third-and-15 and third-and-25 with runs of 30 and 64 yards, respectively.
“Anytime I get the ball I’m trying to get in the end zone. I have to get in for my team,” Hosick said of his mindset on the crucial runs. “I knew the guys would block for me.”
That set up a fourth-and-8 play in which Hosick found senior wideout Bryce McGlaughlin for 9 yards and the touchdown.
“They gave him some space and I hit him on his back shoulder,” Hosick said. “It was a great call by coach.”
From that moment on it was just about hanging on for the Falcons.
Both defenses made some big stops in the second half, as the two teams played more field position football than anything thanks to a strong wind.
In the end, the Falcons made the games biggest play that would send the Indians home after a 10-2 season.
“All you can ask for is an opportunity to win the game and we had a chance,” Schartz said. “This team has a lot of things to look back and remember from this season.”
Meanwhile, the Falcons get the rematch they’ve wanted since last season, as they will square off against Lee’s Summit West in the state semifinals for the second straight season. It will be a home game for Staley at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Titans won 17-14 last year on their way to a state title. Hosick was unable to play in the game due to eligibility issues after transferring, but he still had a message for his teammates.
“I told this year’s seniors after the loss last year that I would do everything in my power to make sure they didn’t feel that way again,” he said. “It’s been 358 days since that game last year. Every Staley player has had this game on their calendar.”
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