By Shawn Roney
Fort Osage’s defense got an old feeling back Friday.
The Indians recorded their first shutout of the 2013 football season by routing Raytown 35-0 in Suburban Middle Seven action at Ted Chittwood Stadium. They posted seven shutouts during their 2012 Class 5 state runner-up season.
“At halftime, coach (Ryan Schartz) was joking about remembering the feeling (of getting a shutout) and how good it felt,” senior defensive lineman Nathan Iloilo said. “It was nice.”
In posting the shutout and helping the Indians defeat the Blue Jays for the ninth straight time, the defense held the Blue Jays to only 74 yards of total offense, including a mere 3 yards rushing. By contrast, the Indians tallied 354 total yards, including 249 rushing yards.
Fort Osage offensive lineman Griffin Bledsoe said the keys to controlling the line of scrimmage were “staying on blocks and doing what we do.”
“We didn’t come out too strong the first half, (as) you could tell,” Bledsoe said. “But we came out and made some adjustments.”
Bledsoe and Indians running back Ezra Vaoifi agreed it was challenging for Fort Osage’s offensive line to go against Raytown’s defensive linemen, who attacked Fort Osage’s linemen by shooting for the legs, rather than engaging with their blocks.
“They were trying to do some weird stuff up inside,” said Vaoifi, who paced Fort Osage with three rushing touchdowns and finished with 180 yards on 26 carries. “It was definitely (them) trying to shut down the run, but I think ... (our) O-line did really well (at) keeping it going.”
The Indians (5-0 overall, 2-0 Middle Seven) got their offense going by staging a nine-play, 60-yard scoring drive on their opening possession. Vaoifi’s 6-yard TD run and Pier Cassiraghi’s extra-point kick with 7:06 left in the first quarter capped the possession.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson’s 7-yard TD run made it 14-0 Fort Osage with 8:54 left in the second quarter. Vaoifi’s 3-yard scoring run with 31.6 seconds left helped the Indians claim a 21-0 halftime lead.
Thompson added a 1-yard TD run with 10:03 left in the third quarter. Vaoifi’s 2-yard TD run with 5:03 left in the third quarter finished the scoring.
The Blue Jays threatened to spoil the Indians’ shutout hopes on the final possession. Sophomore backup quarterback Michael Baxter, who had taken over for injured starter Joe Straws late in the second quarter, moved the Blue Jays (1-4, 1-3) from their own 23-yard line to the Fort Osage 20 before time expired.
Blue Jays coach Kevin Page said Raytown’s loss should remind his players of a lesson he and his coaching staff had stressed to them during practice week.
“(We told them) the road to St. Louis runs through Fort Osage,” Page said. “They were there last year. And so, if we are going to do what we want to do, then these are the teams we have to beat.”
But Schartz probably wouldn’t name his ballclub as the favorite to represent western Missouri in Class 5 at the Show-Me Showdown in November – or any other team, for that matter.
“In Class 5, there’s so much parity right now,” said Schartz, whose club is ranked No. 2 behind Lee’s Summit West in Class 5 state football poll. “I think Staley’s one of those teams that’s a good football team. I think Raytown’s an improved team. There are a lot of Class 5 teams out there that I think can make it down to the (Edward Jones) Dome.”