I’ve covered four Grain Valley games this season, and this past Friday nights was by far the most impressive.
Less than a month after the Eagles’ only loss of the season in the final seconds at Raytown, they got their chance at revenge and made the most of it. They dominated on both sides of the ball, winning 42-7 to win a district championship and advance to the Class 5 state quarterfinals.
I fully expected another nail-biter Friday night. Not only did Raytown run all over the Eagles in the first matchup, but their defense also held Eagle standout quarterback Cole Keller and the rest of their offense in check.
The Eagles completely flipped the script.
I thought one of the most important drives of the games was the opening one, as Grain Valley made it known right away this game wasn’t going to be the same as the first one. They marched down the field with ease, going on top with a touchdown and never looking back.
Keller needed just seven rushing attempts to gain 148 yards. Parker Bosserman added 95. The Grain Valley offense only needed to throw two passes the entire game – one of which was a 52-yard touchdown.
What surprised me the most, though, was how dominant the defense was. I expected Keller and the offense to bounce back from the first meeting. And while the Eagle defense has been great this season, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them.
Back in October, the Blue Jays rushing attack had a field day. Zahmari Gary in particular was a man on a mission, running for 275 yards. Raytown as a team totaled 455 yards on the ground.
On Friday night, the Eagles used some pre-snap motion to try and cause some confusion. I can’t say for sure if that was the reason for their success, but something worked. Raytown averaged less than 3 yards per carry on the night and rushed for only 133 yards.
The defense swarmed to the ball all game. In particular, Hunter Newsome and Josh McCoy stood out. They were all over the place.
It really feels to me like Grain Valley will go as far as this defense will take them. I’m convinced the offense will score. Keller and company will put up points. The defense is going to be tested this Friday night when they travel to face Platte County. The Pirates have scored 30-plus in eight of their 11 games.
Last year these two teams squared off in this same contest, the state quarterfinals. The Pirates won 38-21. In other words, this is another revenge game for the Eagles.
As I’ve covered the Eagles throughout the season, Keller in particular has talked multiple times about this being a special season. I wondered the same in a column after watching them in their second game of the season, a win over Oak Park, saying:
“I’m left to wonder if last season’s run to the state quarterfinals was a precursor of bigger things to come in 2020.”
I might have been on to something.
Just a few weeks later, Keller told me, “Lots of people have been waiting for this season. There are 24 seniors and most of us have been playing football together since the second grade. We’re here to prove something.”
The quest continues Friday night.