By Bill Althaus
Fort Osage's “Big Smarties” offensive line opened semi-truck size holes for Ezra Vaoifi to run through.
Bailey Williamson got in on the act, too, adding a crowd-pleasing 30-yard TD run to the Indians offense.
The defense clicked, following a first-quarter Blue Springs South touchdown drive, and even added a late score on a 16-yard fumble return for a touchdown by big Josh Tuimaseve.
But Friday night at Larry Stewart Memorial Stadium, after an easier-than-anticipated 40-9 win over Blue Springs South, 16-year-old quarterback Skylar Thompson proved that all the hype surrounding his arrival was true.
“This was Skylar's night,” said Vaoifi, a senior who carried the ball 34 times and finished with 242 yards and two touchdowns (he now has 557 rushing yards in two games). “Going into the season, all the talk was like, 'Don't do more than you're capable of. Just manage the offense.' Well, he managed the offense to a 40-9 win tonight.”
“Watching him, can you believe he's a sophomore? That he's 16 years old? He's so big, and strong and he never panics,” Vaoifi said. “The times he was run out of the pocket, he made something happen. I am so glad to be in the same backfield with him at least one year.
“I'm coming back next year and the next year to see what he does. He's unbelievable. He makes it easier for me, because he proved tonight he can throw the ball with anyone.”
It would have been easy for a kid who just turned 16 to melt when the Jaguars opened the game with their lone touchdown drive, as quarterback Chris Swingle hit Brandin Dandridge for a 16-yard touchdown. When the Jags missed the extra point, Thompson led his Indians out on the field trailing 6-0.
That deficit didn't last long as he hit Jesse McBee for a 15-yard strike and a 7-6 lead (following a Pierre Cassaragi extra point) that the Indians never relinquished.
“We can play better, the line, Skylar, Ezra – this was far from a perfect game,” offensive lineman Bryce Palmer said. “But we all saw what Skylar can do tonight. Last week, the running game dominated. We had a good running game tonight, but it was Skylar's game. And we're proud of him.”
When Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz handed the keys to the Indians’ offense to a 16-year-old, he knew what he was doing.
“We didn't ask him to do out and be Steven McBee (a three-year starter who led the Indians to the Class 5 state championship game last season),” Schartz said, after the Indians improved to 2-0. “We just told him to be Skylar Thompson.
“He grew up a little bit tonight. He sure didn't look like a sophomore the way he ran the offense and threw the ball. His line did a great job protecting him, the running game was outstanding for the second week in a row and what can you say about our defense. Man! (Please see sidebar).
“I'm proud of Skylar. He's just going to get better and better as the season goes on.”
Thompson was 10 of 16 for 136 yards and the touchdown pass to McBee. But he set up three other scores with pinpoint passes to McBee and Donte Dotson.
“When they scored that first touchdown, it was like 'We know we can go out and score,' and we did,” McBee said. “Skylar was so calm. None of us expected South to score like that, and Skylar just went to work. That was a big score. And he kept leading us all night long.”
The Indians led 12-9 at the half and scored 28 unanswered points in the second half.
“Don't give me any credit for this win,” Thompson said, as he was surrounded by his offensive line that is smart enough to know that as long as they protect Thompson and open holes for Vaoifi and Williamson, it could be a memorable season.
“First, it all goes to the line,” Thompson said. “My receivers made some great catches – they made me look good on some balls that weren't where I wanted them.
“It's just great to have a win like this and share it with everyone on the team and all our fans. They were here to support us tonight, and that means a lot to us.”