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Examiner
  • Line paves way for unbeaten Indians

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  • Ezra Vaoifi slashed and dashed his way to four touchdowns and 190 yards on the ground in just over one half Thursday.
    But he took none of the credit.
    The Fort Osage offensive line plowed through the North Kansas City defense, and the Indians defense made life difficult for the Hornets as they pulled away quickly to claim a 49-7, mercy-clock Suburban Middle Six win at North Kansas City High School.
    While Vaoifi stood at midfield with the “Big Smarties,” his all-senior offensive line that owns a combined 3.6 GPA, he lavished praise on the unsung heroes who opened some tractor-trailer sized holes.
    “These are the guys who get the job done, who allow me to have big games like this,” Vaoifi said as linemen Joey Neidel, Griffin Bledsoe, Logan Stephens, Dalton Miller, Bryce Palmer and fullback Herman Tapusoa nodded in agreement.
    “They give (quarterback) Skylar (Thompson) all the time he needs to pass the ball, and every game they do such a great job. I'm so lucky to be running behind a line like this.”
    As Vaoifi praised his line, offensive line coach Rick Ammons approaches the group – with the words they've been waiting all night to hear.
    “Brownies tomorrow!” Ammons said, as the linemen and members of the backfield receive cookies or brownies following a stellar performance.
    And it doesn't get much better than the Indians' offensive performance against the Hornets. The Indians carried the ball 33 times for 261 yards, and Thompson ran for a 51-yard score, threw two touchdowns and completed 11 of 16 passes for 153 yards.
    The 8-0 Indians totaled 414 yards of offense while the Hornets managed just 158 – and most of those yards came against the Indian reserves in the second half as coach Ryan Schartz yanked his starters after one series in the third period.
    “It's humbling to be a part of this team,” said Vaoifi, whose stellar season comes on the heels of a two-year rehab stint after suffering a torn ACL. “We all care so much about each other – we're a family, not a team. We really feel like we're all brothers.”
    While the offense grabbed much of the attention, the talk then turned to the Indians’ perfect record.
    “One game at a time, one play at a time, one practice at a time,” Vaoifi said. “None of us care about our record, although we are proud to be 8-0. All we think about is our next opponent.”
    Added Neidel added, “We work too hard to think about being undefeated.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Each of this teammates backed that comment, with Bledsoe adding, “Being undefeated is something we can think about and enjoy when the season is over. There's too much work to be done now to even think about being undefeated.”
    While Vaoifi shredded the defensive line, Thompson did the same to the Hornets secondary – and he enjoyed great success with one of this favorite receivers on the sidelines.
    Junior Jesse McBee did not play in the game because of a head injury he suffered last week. He is expected to be back on the field next week.
    “Even without Jesse, our receivers came through big time,” Thompson said. “We had some young guys out there, and I have all the faith in the world in them. And they came through. Everyone came through tonight. This was a big win against a conference opponent.”
    Sophomore Eli Penamon caught a 15-yard touchdown pass, and classmate Bailey Williamson grabbed a 56-yard bomb.
    “The team looked good tonight,” Schartz said. “This is the time of the year you want to be playing your best football, and our offense and defense really put it together tonight.”
    The Indians were missing kicker Pier Cassiraghi, who is a standout on the Indians soccer team. Sophomore Cal Harris took over the kicking duties, and after missing his first two attempts, he connected on three of his last four extra points.

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