Raytown stops Grain Valley

By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: September 29, 2018 - 1:07 AM

After an entertaining first half of football Friday night, Raytown and Grain Valley were locked in a 22-all tie, and with the way the offenses were moving the ball, you had the feeling that the first team to get a couple of stops on defense and build a lead, playing catch up would be a tough task.

The Blue Jays didn’t take long to do just that in the third quarter.

A little more than 8 minutes into the second half, the Blue Jay defense had recovered a fumble and forced a Grain Valley punt, and each time the offense capitalized with a score as they began to pull away for a 44-29 victory.

“Hats off to the defense for a big turnover right out of the gate,” Raytown head coach Logan Minnick said.

Raytown’s Xander Mason recovered a fumbled handoff between Grain Valley quarterback Cole Keller and running back Ethan Grasher, the second play of the second half, setting the Blue Jays up at the Eagle 21. After converting a fourth-and-three, two plays later quarterback Joe Campbell found the end zone from 3 yards out for a 29-22 lead.

“The turnover was huge,” Grain Valley head coach David Allie said. “We checked out of a play and we just missed the handoff. If we’re able to score on that drive, then they’re playing catch up. Instead, they end up scoring and now we’re playing catch up.”

The Blue Jay defense would step up again on the next Grain Valley drive, forcing the first punt of the game between either team.

This time, Raytown’s dynamic passing game struck big, as Campbell found wideout Desmond Hutson for a 62-yard score and a 37-22 lead after the two-point conversion.

“We have a great air attack, but they were playing off our receivers a lot,” said Campbell, who finished 13-of-20 for 224 yards. “When they go 1-on-1 we feel like we can win every time. We took a shot and came up big.”

Minnick knew the long shots down the field would be rare against the Eagles defense, so they had to take advantage once an opportunity presented itself.

“We saw on film that they were going to take away things up top,” Minnick said. “We did some motion and got the safeties rolling and had just enough room.”

Grain Valley would respond on the following drive and got the lead back down to one score - 37-29 - when Tanner Bailon scored on a 6-yard run. They even got the ball back with a chance to tie after the defense recovered a fumble deep in their own territory.

The offense drove into Blue Jay territory but wound up turning the ball over on downs when a pass from Keller to Grasher was well short of the first down marker. While the Eagles had success on the ground, that seemed to be by design with the Raytown defensive scheme that was in place.

“It’s hard to pass against that defense,” Allie said. “You can’t go vertical. You have to grind it out on the ground and it’s tough to catch up quickly that way. You get in third-and-long and if you can’t throw it effectively that makes things tough.”

Keller made several plays with his legs but was just 6-of-11 for 104 yards through the air.

After the turnover on downs, the Raytown running game went to work and put the game away when Messiah Miller found the end zone from 2 yards out.

“The defense got a huge stop on fourth down and we told the big boys up front, this is on you,” Minnick said. “They can’t stop us.”

The win pushed the Blue Jays to 5-1 on the season with a big game ahead next Friday when they host Fort Osage. It’s another chance for them to prove they are a team to take seriously in Class 5.

“We’re done with people talking about Oak Park. That was Week 2,” Campbell said of the teams lone loss. “Since then we’ve won four in a row now. We’re done being slept on.”