Indians don't let down
By Stephen Bubalo PrepsKC staff writer
Friday night was a classic letdown game for Fort Osage High School and head coach Ryan Schartz knew it.
Coming off one of the biggest wins in school history last week – defeating defending Class 6 state champion Blue Springs South 6-0 in a constant rain – the Indians traveled to Class 4 No. 3-ranked Liberty North, a team that was looking for its own program-defining win.
“There was a lot of talk about a letdown,” Schartz said. “On my practice schedule each day I have a ‘Thought of the Day.’ At every practice this week it said ‘No letdown.’”
The Indians took care of business against a pesky Eagle squad for a 38-17 win, and they did it with big plays on both sides of the ball.
First the offense, which was about as balanced as it gets, a departure from last week’s rain-game where the Indians didn’t attempt a single pass.
Steven McBee got to air things out a little bit and went 17-of-23 for 184 yards and two scores, while the running game also collected 158 yards – 109 from McBee.
“I’ve been waiting all year to do that,” McBee said of using the passing game more. “We have a lot of weapons. Behind the line that we have, if everything is clicking we’re pretty much unstoppable.”
While McBee admitted after the comment he didn’t mean it in a cocky way, the Eagles did have trouble getting the Indians off the field.
“We want to hang our hat on our running game but we also wanted to show people we could throw the ball,” Schartz said. “This year we have more kids at the skilled positions that can play than we have in a long time.”
And they used them all Friday night.
Running back Ezra Vaoifi scored twice in the first half, while McBee also added a score for a 24-10 lead at the half, as Fort Osage got two big touchdowns before the half to break a 10-all tie.
The second quarter and second half also saw some big catches from D’Vante Mosby, Brandon Winters and Jesse McBee.
“Third downs were killing us,” Liberty North head coach Ken Clemens said of the Indians’ crucial conversions. “Their quarterback can run well and big No. 88 (Mosby) would reach up and catch the ball. When you play a team that is coached like that, if you leave anything unchecked they’ll find it.”
McBee found Mosby and Winters for touchdown throws in the second half to extend the lead.
“We talked at halftime about not taking our foot off the pedal. We knew we had to do our job,” McBee said.
As for the defense, it did its job as it has all season.
While they gave up their first points of the season, they also forced three turnovers, including two interceptions by Darby Raines.
His first was one of the biggest plays of the game, as he snuffed out a halfback pass play and went up and intercepted Eagle standout running back Antwynn Beavers’ attempt with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left until halftime.
Eight plays later Vaoifi was in the end zone for a 24-10 lead.
“I didn’t know it was coming,” Raines said of the trick play. “The halfback wasn’t running at full speed like he had been. I started to bite on the pitch but I saw he wasn’t running full speed, I read the receiver and then I got back. I’m very competitive, so I like going up against a good wide receiver with good size and going up and getting the ball. That motivates me.”
Clemens said the play could have been avoided.
“There were two things on that play. One, if we catch it, it’s a good play, but our tailback needs to know that if it’s not there he doesn’t have to try and throw it,” he said. “And two, our wide receiver needs to turn into a defender in a situation like that and try and make a play. The little things like that are what is keeping us from being a great team.”
The Eagles, 2-1, made a late push and got it to 31-17 before Raines’ second interception ruined any chance of a comeback, though it didn’t take away from Clemens thought was a good effort from his team.
“The brightest spot is that we showed we can compete with the best out there,” Clemens said.
Meanwhile, Fort Osage continued to solidify itself as one of Class 5’s best teams as they moved to 3-0 on the season.
“We have a lot of heart,” McBee said. “I’m not going to say people doubted us but I think people thought this was a rebuilding year. A lot of guys have stepped up.”
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