Antwon President will leave a lasting legacy at Blue Springs High School.
The defensive back was part of back-to-back state championships in football, was a member of the Wildcats state championship track and field team and helped Missouri claim a come-from-behind 22-21 victory over the Kansas all-stars Thursday night on the new turf at Peve Stadium in the Country Mart GKCFCA Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game.
Missouri has won four straight in the series, which stands at 11 wins apiece.
“This feels good,” said President, who was the lone member of the Missouri all-star team to win his last high school game. “I didn’t want to lose the first game ever played on the new turf at Peve. And it didn’t look good that first half when we were down 14-0.
“But that’s why we're all stars. I have to admit, it took us a half to get focused, to get into the game. Then, at the end, it was a like a real game. I mean, we were getting after it. There was no way we were going to let Kansas win that game after we took the lead.”
After a scoreless first period, Kansas scored twice to take what appeared to be at the time a commanding 14-0 lead.
But with 58 seconds remaining in the half, Fort Osage running back Ezra Vaoifi (please see sidebar) scored on a 14-yard run to spark the Missouri offense. The extra point sailed wide, but Missouri went into halftime knowing the second half would be a new game.
“We were down, but we knew we weren’t out,” Fort Osage center Griffin Bledsoe said. “We had a lot of confidence and knew that the second half would be a lot different than the first half.”
He was right.
Grain Valley tight end Hunter Ramirez hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass from St. Joseph LeBlond quarterback Matthew McCullough and Vaoifi scored on a two-point run to knot the score at 14-all at 8:14.
“We knew we were going to come back,” said Ramirez, who made his lone catch of the night count. “We had a lot of confidence going into the half after Ezra scored that touchdown right before the half.
“I don’t know how a group of guys were able to come together as a team after a week and a half of practices, but we did. We really wanted this game. We all wanted to win our last high school game – and it feels so good.”
Kansas scored one more time, to take a 21-14 lead on a blown-coverage 67-yard pass from Danten Cosentino to Nick Oliver, but again, the Missouri all-stars answered with their third touchdown. It came on a 5-yard run by Lee’s Summit North’s Josh Caldwell.
“I got the ball and all I did was follow that big boy from Fort Osage right into the end zone,” said Caldwell, referring to Dalton Miller. “He was knocking people down. All I had to do was stay behind him. He made my job easy.”
When the compliment was relayed to Miller, he broke into a big grin and said, “It’s nice to hear that. It’s nice to get a little respect. I appreciate that, I really do.”
Missouri coach Greg Smith (Smithville) came to Peve Stadium to get a win, and instead of going for the tie, he sent in Vaoifi for another two-point attempt. This effort fell short and Missouri trailed 21-20 with 9:05 to play.
That’s when the defense took over.
On Kansas’ next series, Cosentino threw a lateral that several Missouri defenders kicked around in the end zone. They could not recover the ball for a touchdown, but Missouri was awarded the safety and owned a 22-21 lead.
Staley’s Jackson Newman added an interception on Kansas’ next possession, and Missouri then stopped Kansas on downs.
“We were on the sideline at the end of the game and I tried to get Griff to watch, but he couldn’t,” said Miller, as Kansas drove to the Missouri 36-yard line with seconds left on the clock.
“He’s got his back turned to the field. He couldn’t watch. This game meant a lot to us. It feels so good to win it.”
When the final seconds ticked off the clock, the celebration started on the Missouri sideline.
“This was so much more than I expected,” Fort Osage defensive back Tyler Titus said. “I’m sad it's over, I am really sad. It’s emotional to say goodbye to these guys. For the last two weeks, I was able to play with the best players in the state and tonight, we proved we were the best. This was a great win.”