Tate Collum and Ethan Macoubrie will forever be a part of the Grain Valley High School football legacy that is back at full force, thanks to a team of talented players and a coaching staff put together by David Allie.
Add Caleb Krell to the offensive mix and it’s easy to see why the Eagles have won back-to-back Missouri River Valley Conference West crowns and are meeting Nevada in a Class 4 District 6 semifinal at 7 p.m. today in what the Eagle faithful hopes will begin a long playoff run.
Let’s let Krell, a running back who has carried the ball 141 times for 953 yards and 11 touchdowns, talk about what many believe to be the most famous touchdown pass in Eagles history.
It was a 12-yard fade from Collum to his favorite receiver, Macoubrie, with no time showing on the clock and defending state champion Harrisonville leading the Eagles 13-9.
“It was a fade pass from Tate to Ethan, and I remember it like it just happened today,” said Krell, a difference maker in the backfield who confesses, “I’m not a sports guy unless I’m playing. We’re down by four and have to get a touchdown and Tate throws this perfect fade pass and Ethan out jumps two Harrisonville defenders in the corner of the end zone and we win the game.
“I almost passed out. I mean it, I almost passed out. I couldn’t believe it. We were out there hugging each other and celebrating and that moment, we knew we were going to win the conference championship for the second year in a row.
“Tate’s our leader, and when a leader makes a play like that, you follow him.”
Macoubrie, who has 21 receptions for 284 yards and three scores after missing the first four games of the season with a fractured foot, agreed.
“It was all Tate,” said Macoubrie, who was playing in just his second game since breaking his foot in the Blue and White intrasquad game. “I had talked to Coach Allie about the fade at halftime. I told him we could score on it, and he picked the right time to call it. I remember looking at the stands, seeing how crazy our fans were going.
“Then, I looked at the field, and all the guys were going crazy too. Some guys were just down on their knees, like they couldn’t believe what they just saw.”
And during all the craziness, all the raw emotion that is Friday Night Lights in small-town America, stood Tate Collum.
“I’ll never forget watching Ethan catch that pass and the reaction from my teammates and our fans,” said Collum, who has completed 95 of 159 passes for 1,285 yards, nine touchdowns and a 142.5 quarterback rating. “I knew we meant a lot to our community when we won conference last year, but I really knew what we meant when I saw the reaction of our fans after that touchdown.
“We do mean a lot, and I hope they know how much they mean to us. We’re all in this together. We don’t do what we do without their support, and I hope they’re there for us Friday night when we play Nevada.”
Krell and Macoubrie were sophomores when the Eagles began to build the foundation of their back-to-back title teams. Collum was on the junior varsity squad, waiting for Ethan’s older brother, Dominic, to graduate and relinquish his quarterback reins.
“I was on JV, so I don’t really know what it was like to be on that 3-7 team,” Collum said, “but I know talking to Ethan that he said we were going to be good. And even though his brother was quarterback, he was excited for me to earn a spot on varsity and play with him and Caleb the next season.”
Allie and his staff had a plan, the right players and the grit and determination to put Grain Valley football back on the map.
“You can coach and coach,” Allie said, “but you have to have the players, and we have them. It’s not just the ‘Big Three,’ we have some great players at every position, but Caleb, Tate and Ethan are the heart and soul players, the guys who mean so much to all of us.
“They’re the leaders, and Tate is the team leader. I feel so blessed to have the coaching staff I have, the players I have and to be a part of a community like Grain Valley. We want to make football special out here for a long time.”