Grain Valley grabs first MRVC West title
By Jason Lawrence PrepsKC staff writer
In a game full of missed opportunities, Seth Schibler saw his with just over two minutes to play and took it.
The Grain Valley senior defensive back was one-on-one in the flat with Oak Grove’s Tyler Hunter when Panther quarterback Jaxon Althaus swung a pass to his junior running back. Hunter contorted his body to get a hand on it, but it was Schibler who came away with the ball, ultimately taking it 26 yards the other way to give the Eagles (6-3) a 7-0 win over Oak Grove (4-5), their first in six years.
“He (Hunter) motioned across and I saw him run a quick out and the quarterback threw a really hard pass. I got my hands on it as he did and I was able to rip it out and take it to the house,” Schibler said. “Honestly, I don’t know how I caught it. It was just surreal.”
With the Eagles’ only other scoring opportunity coming in the waning seconds of the first half – ultimately a missed 34-yard field goal attempt – Grain Valley head coach David Allie’s defense, which had played “lights out” all game answered the bell. Except he almost didn’t see it.
“I was getting ready to get the offense on the field,” Allie said. “Coach (Pete) Carpino runs that defense. I looked over there and I think he caught it one-handed. … That time he was in the right place at the right time and made a spectacular play.
“I’ve been in the game for 24 years so I’ve been in that game before, but I’ve never won it on a pick-6 like that with two minutes left. What a great defensive play.”
Just over six minutes earlier, Oak Grove nearly turned the game without its offense on the field. Defensive back Chase Alexander came through the line clean on a punt attempt by Grain Valley, blocking the kick and scooping it up at the Eagles’ 31-yard line.
However, much like the first half, when a fumbled handoff on fourth down and a pair of holding calls at the Eagles’ 20 halted scoring opportunities, the Panthers were unable to take advantage.
“We didn’t finish in the first half. We went up and down the field and couldn’t finish,” Oak Grove head coach Pat Richard said. “You can’t do that against anybody, especially a good team. We hit that 20-yard line and we’d stall.
“We played hard; got after it. We just made a lot of mistakes. The one play that could have made it, it could have been the punt block, but we’ve got to finish that too. When we’re on offense with a short field like that, we’ve got to score. And we didn’t. They did a good job of rallying and stopping us.”
A turnover on downs and three punts later, Schibler’s heroics gave Grain Valley its first outright Missouri River Valley Conference West since the conference split into divisions in 2007.
“The thing we’ve talked about the last couple weeks is ‘if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done,’” Allie said.
With the win, the Eagles also clinched the No. 3 seed in the Class 4, District 6 tournament, guaranteeing them a home game next Friday night.
“It’s so important to get that home game,” Allie said. “However it shakes out, we’ll go play and keep trying to do what hasn’t been done before.”
Oak Grove will hit the road next week to take on Clinton (7-2) in the first round of Class 3, District 7 play.
“Now we can rebound and hopefully get going,” Richard said. “Tonight we showed a lot of good signs; we can build on it. Hopefully we can get on a little run.”
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