One of the benefits of being a member of the Fort Osage High School football coaching staff is selecting some fresh produce from a bag of freshly picked sweet corn that an Indians player placed in the coaches’ office.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” head coach Ryan Schartz said as his assistants looked over the bag of corn that had been hand-picked that morning. “Man, I love what I do – I love it!”
Schartz has created a powerhouse at Fort Osage, taking a team that was on life support when he arrived and turning it into a perennial state contender.
At 6 p.m. Friday, Indians fans can come out to Fort Osage and see this year’s team in a Meet The Indians intrasquad jamboree that will feature the participation of many area youth football teams.
“We’re excited to see the future Indians Friday night,” said Schartz, who chose this type of informal session over the more familiar jamboree, where teams will meet three other squads in a round-robin type format before the season-opening Friday night matchups on Aug. 22.
“We have a new division this year – the Pop Warner Mighty Mites. I hear they’re ready to take on the big boys. It’s just such a great night. Our fans come out to see the high school kids, and the little guys get to play in front of a big crowd – it gets them fired up to be an Indian.”
His Indians lost a heartbreaker to Kearney in last season's state quarterfinals, finishing 11-1. Not bad for a team that was on a 19-game losing streak when Schartz and his staff took over 10 years ago.
“It was like a perfect storm,” Schartz said when asked about the meteoric rise of his Indians. “We had a coaching staff that believed in the kids, and we came along when some pretty darned good athletes came along at the same time.
“You don’t do what we did without the (Dalton) Krysas, (E.J.) Gaines, (Edward) Pearls and all those great kids. They inspired a group of younger kids who wanted to keep it going, and now we have kids like Skylar (Thompson, a junior who is one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the state) and Jesse (McBee) and all the kids who want to make this a special season.”
Last year’s squad lost some great players to graduation, including a senior-dominated offensive line, a 2,000-yard running back in Ezra Vaoifi and all-state linebacker Nathan Iloilo.
“We’ve seen a lot of great players graduate, and this year, we’re going to be a work in progress, especially early in the season, but I like this team," Schartz said. "The kids are working hard, and they know they have a legacy to follow and have to fill the shoes of some great kids and they seem excited about the challenge.”
THREE-PEAT TRY: Coach Kelly Donohoe was expecting the question, even though he feigned befuddlement.
His Blue Springs High School football team has won the last two Class 6 state championships and now, prep football fans are talking about a third consecutive title.
“Come on, it’s way too early to be talking three-peat,” Donohoe said, in mock horror. “We haven’t even had our jamboree.”
The Wildcats will host Lee’s Summit West, last year's Class 5 state championship team that has moved up to Class 6 this season, along with Raytown South and Liberty North at 7 p.m. Friday at Peve Stadium.
“Our kids are excited about the upcoming season, and we’re going to take it like we have every other year – one game at a time. Winning a third state championship would be special, but believe me, no one is talking about that at Blue Springs High School.
“We’re trying to figure out what we need to do to beat Staley in Week 1 and Fort Osage Week 2 – then we have our big rival Blue Springs South Week 3. So if anyone is thinking three-peat, they better start thinking about those three opponents.”