PLEASANT HILL — In what has been a back-and-forth series in recent years, Friday's Grain Valley-Pleasant Hill matchup provided another competitive contest.
Using a steady ground attack led by Caleb Krell and a stingy defense, the Eagles picked up a 21-0 victory over the host Roosters.
The win is the second straight in the series for Grain Valley, which came after a six-year run in which the MRVC West rivals were 3-3 against each other.
The past two years, a total margin of victory was 11 points and the finals were 15-12 and 20-12.
“It's a good competition,” Grain Valley quarterback Tate Collum, who had a fourth-quarter touchdown that accounted for the final margin, said of playing the Roosters. “We were working hard both ways the whole time and we didn't want to think we had an edge. We wanted to work hard like it was 0-0 the entire game. They always keep chirping and they keep coming back. We have to keep fighting the whole game or they will come back.”
This game had all of the makings of a low-scoring contest from the onset, but the first half actually was an offensive explosion compared to the second half.
Nate Chaiprathum hit a pair of first-half field goals for the Eagles, who led 13-0 at the break.
He kicked a 22-yarder with just more than 4 minutes to play in the first quarter, ending a drive that started at the Roosters' 43-yard line.
The Eagles had a first-and-goal at the 6 before two runs – for 1 yard – and an incomplete pass set up the field goal.
Pleasant Hill's Blake Atkins threw an interception on the next play from scrimmage and Brady Rogers picked it off and ran it to the Roosters' 20. On third down, Collum hit Michael Marquez for a 13-yard touchdown on a slant route with 3 minutes left in the first to extend the lead to 10-0.
Chaiprathum's second field goal came with 3:51 left in the first half, pushing the lead 13-0. That marked another successful drive for Grain Valley until it got inside the 10-yard line. Collum converted a fourth-down run on fourth-and-1 from the 11, but once at the 10-yard line, the Eagles gained only five yards to set up Chaiprathum's second 22-yarder.
The drive started 12 seconds into the second quarter and the 7-plus-minute drive that spanned 74 yards.
The best first-half drive for the Roosters (2-3) came with 1:50 left in the second quarter. Starting at their own 33, the Roosters got six completions by Atkins and moved to the Grain Valley 11-yard line with less than 30 seconds left. On a first-and-10 from the 11, 6-foot-5 defensive lineman Bennett Disco intercepted Atkins' pass at the 5-yard line to stop that drive.
Prior to the drive, Pleasant Hill had 17 yards of total offense.
“It was a good defensive struggle,” Pleasant Hill coach Greg Smith said. “You know, we made just enough mistakes to prevent us from making those scores and making it more competitive. Hats off to Grain Valley, they played lights out on defense.”
Collum accounted for the final touchdown with 5:53 left on a 3-yard run and Ethan Grasher's run on the conversion made it 21-0. The Eagles likely could've made it 28-0 in the final minute as Krell continued to pound ball up the middle. The senior had runs of 7, 8, 10, and 5 to get to the Pleasant Hill 6-yard line. Grain Valley took a knee on fourth-and-goal from the 4 with 23 seconds left.
Krell finished with 138 on 22 carries and Grain Valley ran the ball 44 times for 219 yards. Collum was 10-for-16 passing for 134 yards.
“If the rock is being moved on the ground, hopefully you don't have to run the chance of an incompletion or interception,” Grain Valley coach David Allie said. “Part of it was game plan, but also the conditions (with the wind blowing) dictated it.”