Grain Valley coach David Allie said his team came fired up to play Friday.
It certainly showed.
The Eagles scored four times in the first 11 minutes and dominated on special teams during a 52-14 win over Nevada in a Class 4 District 6 semifinal at Moody Murray Community Field.
The Eagles now have a rematch with Harrisonville at 7 p.m. next Friday at home for the district title.
“We talked about all week how physical Nevada was and how big they were, and we saw film on them, so we came out ready to play,” Allie said. “It was a great job by our kids and great job by our staff getting them ready.”
Besides forcing five turnovers — four of which came in the kicking game — the Eagles had the connection of quarterback Tate Collum and wide receiver Michael Marquez clicking.
The two connected on four passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
“The way their defense was set up, we took advantage of that,” said Marquez, who finished with 132 yards on five receptions. “Our coaches do a good job of making adjustments and knowing what plays to run based on the way the defense lines up.”
Collum and Marquez started the scoring almost immediately, hooking up on a 34-yard touchdown pass nearly 90 seconds into the game.
After forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs, the Eagles scored on the next play when Noah Buseman sprinted 65 yards into the end zone.
Gavin Oyler recovered Grain Valley’s ensuing kickoff at the Tigers 36, and a few moments later, Collum crossed the goal line from the 3.
“It’s awesome to come right off the field when you score, be getting a drink, then see we get a recovery on the kickoff and be like, ‘All right, I’m going back on,’” said Collum, who completed 5 of 8 passes through the air for 143 yards. “When you start a game fast like that, it really gives you more motivation to keep pounding them. We want to keep getting up on them and not give any breathing room to come back.”
That wasn’t an issue Friday.
Nevada fumbled a punt attempt deep in its own territory, then Collum found Marquez on a 5-yard TD pass to push the Eagles’ lead to 28-0.
Nate Chaiprathum’s 30-yard field goal gave Grain Valley a 31-8 halftime advantage, and the Eagles (9-2) opened the second half with Ethan Grasher ripping the ball away from Nevada’s kick returner and he recovered the ball and returned it to the Nevada 5.
Caleb Krell scored on the next play to complete his 96-yard rushing night and all but put the game away.
Collum hit Marquez on a 62-yard scoring strike, then a blocked punt led to Grasher’s 3-yard TD run to finish out Grain Valley’s scoring.
Braeden Hinton and Braxton Shadden had touchdown runs for Nevada (5-6).
“It’s great to have back-to-back opportunities at a district championship,” Collum said. “Last year we didn’t come up with it, but this year that’s the goal, to win it this time.”