Before most of the standing-room-only crowd at Fort Osage High School had settled into their seats Friday night, sophomore return man Dominic Myers gave them something to cheer about in the Indians Class 5 state quarterfinal game against undefeated Staley.
He took the opening kickoff 96 yards to give the Indians a 6-0 lead (the extra point was wide).
“That got everyone excited – almost too excited,” said second-year head coach Brock Bult, whose Indians again held the Falcons under 42 points – something no other opponent has done this season – but it was not enough as Staley claimed a 28-14 victory.
“Dominic got us going and we were right with them the first half, then, well, then their quarterback did what he’s done all season.”
Bult was talking about Staley senior quarterback John Raybourn, who faced a first-and-10 from his own 1-yard line on the opening drive of the third quarter. He eluded two Indians in the end zone and found a wide open Rod Criss for a 48-yard completion.
Raybourn then finished off the 99-yard drive with his second touchdown of the night on a 5-yard run.
That put the Falcons ahead 21-14, and the Indians could not find a way to get on the scoreboard in the second half.
“We had them right where we wanted them, and Raybourn makes that pass play,” Bult said after his team finished 9-3. “He’s the best I’ve seen this year. They’ve scored a lot of points, and we’ve held them to 28 and 22 (a 22-15 regular-season loss), but it’s like I told our guys, we left it all on the field today.
“I told them to walk off the field with their heads held high. We had to say goodbye to some very good seniors, and that’s the only part of my job I hate. But we have some good kids coming back.
“Heck, I wish I was coming in Saturday morning to watch film, to get ready for next season.”
Myers made the same comment.
“I wish we were watching film and preparing for next season tomorrow,” said the sophomore. “When we opened with that touchdown I thought, ‘Maybe this is our night.’
“It wasn’t, but we gave Staley everything we had. I am so proud of this team, and I am going to promise all the seniors that we’re coming back next year to take care of business. We’re not going to forget what they meant to our team.”
Fort Osage quarterback Ty Baker finished the night completing 10 of 21 passes for 158 yards and a dramatic 78-yard touchdown pass to Dez Griswold to put the Indians ahead 12-7. Isaiah Iloilo scored on a 2-point conversion run to make it 14-7 late in the first quarter.
Staley, though, tied it 14-14 before halftime and outscored the Indians 14-0 in the second half to advance to next week’s state semifinal against Carthage.
“We gave it everything we had,” Baker said. “I hate to say goodbye to our seniors, but I am so proud of what we accomplished. After going 5-6 last year, going 9-3 was really special this year.”
Raybourn was the difference maker, carrying the ball 20 times for 148 yards and two scores and completing 12 of 18 passes for 177 yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass to J.D. Benbow.
“We hit him hard more than a few times tonight,” Bult said of Raybourn, “and he popped back up and went to work. You have to tip your hat to a player like that.”