Rolling to the Dome

Brian Davidson/The Examiner

By Matt Gerstner PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: November 21, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Winning games is, more often that not, harder in the playoffs.

That notion, however, is apparently lost upon Fort Osage, who continued their dominance in the Missouri Class 5 semifinals with a 49-12 romping of the defending state champion Battle Spartans Friday night in Columbia to earn a spot in the Edward Jones Dome next week.

“I was concerned coming into this one with last week (a 42-10 over Park Hill) being such an emotional win,” head coach Ryan Schartz said. “I didn’t want an emotional letdown this week. I wanted our prep to be good. Tuesday wasn’t a great practice day, but Wednesday we got after it and felt a lot better. The long trip was a concern, as well, but the kids came out and played great tonight.”

Quarterback Skyler Thompson rushed for three touchdowns and threw for one while the defense notched three interceptions, helping the Indians to their third state title berth since 2009.

Thompson gave all the credit to his blockers.

“One word: O-line,” he said. “That was one of the best defensive lines we’ve seen all year, and the holes were huge for us to run through. We won today because of our offensive line.”

The 15-minute rain delay (due to lightning in the area) didn’t slow either team down to start the contest, as Bailey Williamson took the opening kickoff 99 yards to the endzone for the score. Battle responded with a 75-yard quarterback keeper from Brevinn Tyler just two plays later but missed the two point conversion.

“We experienced that with Park Hill last year,” Thompson said of the quick score. “It wasn’t something we haven’t seen before. We knew that those guys were going to battle. It was like a heavyweight boxing match going back and forth, punch for punch. We’re just fortunate to win the game.”

The Indians widened their lead to eight with an 11-play, 58-yard drive, capped off by Thompson’s five-yard plunge across the goal line.

Battle looked to answer back once more, but Jonah Tuimaseve had other ideas, taking a Tyler pass to the flat 37 yards the other way for the pick-six and 21-6 Fort Osage lead. Thompson added another touchdown with an eight-yard run mid-second quarter, capitalizing on a big catch-and-run from Williamson over the middle.

Jesse Reses looked to set up with the kill-shot with an interception of his own inside Spartan territory, and the payoff came in the form of Thompson’s third rushing touchdown, his 18th on the year, to put the Indians up 35-6 going into halftime.

A quiet third quarter was highlighted by a drive-killing interception by Ky’Von Smith as the Indians took their 29-point lead into the fourth quarter.

“The defense, all of them, were huge in this game,” Schartz said. “We only had a three-man rush, and we were getting heat on the quarterback and making him throw into eight-man coverage. I couldn’t ask for more from those guys.”

Thompson started the running clock with nine minutes left with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Tuimaseve to make it 42-6.

“[We’re] just ready to get to the dome,” Tuimaseve said.

Schartz said he had to try to calm Tuimaseve down earlier on game day.

“I have him in weight training early in the morning, and he was just bouncing off the walls,” Schartz explained. “I said, ‘Jonah, we play 11 hours from now. You’ve got to relax. You’re not going to have any energy left.’ I was wrong.”

The Spartans got one more when Xavier Johnson took a bobbled interception from Dayton O’Dell 59 yards for the score, but Isiah Iloilo put the extra icing on the cake with a 36-yard touchdown run to bring the game to its final score.

Fort Osage will look for its first state title in school history in its third try, and Thompson believes he and his fellow seniors will be the key to earning it.

“We have 30 seniors on this team that have played together for a long time,” he said. “Through middle school and Pop Warner days, we’ve experienced a lot of things together, and that makes us strong and confident. We’re coming together really well as a team right now. These big wins are excited and I see a lot of excitement in the eyes of the team right now, but we know we have unfinished business to go achieve.”

Schartz echoed his quarterback in crediting senior leadership.

“We have a lot of seniors that were on the team that experienced the 2012 state game, and they’ve been the glue that has held this team together,” he said. “We’ve leaned on them very heavily, and they’ve done a great job leading us.”

The Indians await the winner of Carthage and Chaminade scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

“We just have to stay being a team, and go out there and do what we do best, which is play football,” Tuimaseve said.