The past couple of years, boys soccer and football have been two of the most successful program for Fort Osage High School.
The soccer team has a combined 33-8-1 record in the past two years and had two straight district finals appearances. The football program won its first state championship in 2015 and has made two straight quarterfinal appearances in 2016 and 2017.
While these are two completely different programs, there is one thing they both have in common. Kaia Tupinio and Jake Lammering play for both of them.
The talented two-way players, who have been good friends and have played soccer together since they were 10 or 11 years old, have been large contributors to both programs.
Lammering’s primary sport is soccer and for good reason. He scored 36 goals this year and made four shots during penalty kicks as he served as the team’s primary striker. Often he had the ability to take on multiple defenders by himself and still score. And he found the back of the net often even while being man marked.
“He’s kind of got what we call a natural finishing ability,” Fort Osage soccer coach Michael Brown said. “When he gets near the goal, it’s systematic the way he puts the ball away. He also has some incredible athleticism on top of that.”
So how did a soccer guy get involved in football?
Well, it’s not uncommon for soccer player to become a place kicker like Lammering has. He was influenced by his older brother Keegan, who was also a kicker for the Indians. Jake has been a football player since he was a freshman. And he learned from his brother.
“He’s been a really big help with everything,” Jake said of Keegan. “Not so much field goal kicking, but with kickoffs. My brother has a really big foot and can kick it really far. He helped me get down my technique.”
The two often went to the football field in the offseason and after school to see who could make the most field goals and who could kick the ball the farthest on kickoffs. So who is better?
“When I was a freshman, he could kick farther than me,” Jake said of Keegan. “Now, I think if we kick field goals (the better kicker) would be me. But I think he would beat me on kickoffs.”
Added Tupinio: “I think by his senior year, he’ll be better than his brother. He’s been so good for us.”
Lammering has proved that he is a quality place kicker. He’s provided Fort Osage the luxury of not having to go for it on fourth down when they are within 25 yards of the end zone. He’s made 32 out of 36 extra-point attempts (90 percent) and has made 5 of 6 field goal attempts, including his career long of 43 yards against Lee’s Summit West. The junior also is not afraid to get physical.
“He’s made some big field goals for us this year in big games,” Fort Osage football head coach Brock Bult said. “He has a strong leg and helps us with our kickoff game, too. He’s a little more aggressive and more willing to tackle than his brother was.”
Tupinio isn’t afraid of contact either, but his role is completely different than Jake’s. Tupinio serves as a Jack of all trades for the football Indians on offense, playing quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
Last week, in the Class 5 District 7 championship game against William Chrisman, Tupinio was inserted at quarterback in place of starter Ty Baker. He seized the moment as he rushed for 74 yards on nine carries in the wildcat formation, leading his team to a pair of touchdown drives in a come-from-behind 24-10 win.
Bult said that Tupinio’s value to be able to play multiple positions can’t be understated. The sophomore has totaled 447 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns.
“He gives us a lot of depth at different positions,” Bult said. “He’s an explosive player and makes the plays. He can also throw it well enough to keep the defense honest.”
While football is Tupinio’s primary sport, he’s had success as Fort Osage’s goalkeeper. Last season, Tupinio was named Suburban Middle Six goalkeeper of the year and is a favorite to win that honor again this season.
“He’s an incredible goalie,” Brown said. “I don’t know that I’ve coached anybody with the goalie talent he has. He makes incredibly difficult saves look easy. We won many games thanks to his ability. It’s not often you can say the goalie is the reason you won a game. But he was a lot of times.”
Tupinio totaled 10 shutouts and led a stout defense that allowed just 0.86 goals per game.
He said the similarities between being a receiver and being a goalkeeper has helped him become better at each.
“Both really help me develop my hand-eye coordination and catching,” Tupinio said. “Going from soccer to football makes it a lot better and easier.”
At 7 p.m. Friday, the two-sport duo will try to help Fort Osage reach the Class 5 state semifinals for the second time in three years when they face Suburban Middle Six rival Staley in the quarterfinal. Even when football season is over, Lammering and Tupinio have one more year to play together.
“Now that my brother is gone, Kaia and I have that bond that me and my brother used to have,” Lammering said.