Even some of Fort Osage’s weaknesses are basically strengths – in a roundabout way.

Even some of Fort Osage’s weaknesses are basically strengths – in a roundabout way.

In their season opener Friday at Lee’s Summit North, the Class 5 fifth-ranked Indians dodged a so-so start before exploding for 35-6 triumph. After the game, Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz said his players might have come out a little too ready to start the season after listening to a pregame pep talk from Rich Divers, who runs the program’s Little Indians and Pop Warner leagues and coached many of the current players in their younger years.

“You’ve got to tone them down somehow,” Schartz said. “It’s just hard to do. ... A lot of kids played for (Divers) when they were little, and you could tell they were just amped up because he talked to them.”

On the game’s initial drive, the Broncos worked their way down to the Fort Osage 26-yard line before the 11-play drive stalled. After holding the Indians to a three-and-out, North pushed forward 50 yards to the Fort Osage 30. And again, the Indians’ defense thwarted the drive when junior defensive back Samson Sia picked off Broncos quarterback Will Harrington.

“(The defense) was on the field the first half for just a long time,” Schartz said. “They withstood some big drives, got a couple stands and they kept us in the game. The offense, we just didn’t get it going. Too many penalties and turnovers.”

The Indians (1-0) lost two fumbles in the first half and finished the game with eight penalties for 47 yards. But North’s window closed after five first-half drives stalled in Fort Osage territory.

“We felt like we should have been up 21-0, instead we’re down 8-0 at half,” said Broncos coach Ty Kohl. “Give credit to their defense. ... They’re a very good football team. But we’re just not good enough to make the mistakes we made down there. We just don’t have the experience to do that.”

Fort Osage’s lone first-half score came off a 10-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Ezra Vaoifi. Vaoifi received the majority of carries for the Indians as senior Jaleel Gordon was sidelined with a knee injury. In the second half, Vaoifi broke off a 67-yard scoring gallop a drive after Steven McBee hit Brandan Reeve for a 29-yard scoring strike. Vaoifi’s score boosted the Indians to a 22-0 advantage.

Vaoifi, who Schartz said emerged as a breakout candidate this summer, finished the game 125 rushing yards on 13 carries.

“I thought finally in the open field he allowed his blockers to get in front and used them to cut off a block,” Schartz said. “A lot of times he doesn’t let it develop and he tries to force it in there. He was a much more patient runner tonight.”

The Indians also received a handful of highlight-reel plays from McBee in the second half. McBee started the third period by completing four of his first five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. But his most impressive effort came on the ground.

With less than a minute and a half left in the third, McBee took a snap at the Broncos’ 43 yard-line on third-and-25. The pocket collapsed and McBee raced 15 yards behind the line of defenders. He crossed from one side of the field to the other and back again, eluding defenders and eventually racing for a 43-yard score.

“Unbelievable,” said Schartz, whose team hosts Oak Park (0-1) next week. “It wasn’t exactly how I drew the play up.”

McBee completed 8 of 13 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown while gaining 31 yards on 11 carries.

As the Fort Osage offense settled into its own during the second half, the defense continued enduring Bronco charges. Early in the fourth, North drove to the Indian 6-yard line. With Harrington on the sideline with leg cramps, backup quarterback Matt Brumfield dropped back on a first-and-goal and was decked by Fort Osage sophomore linebacker Nathan Iloilo as he tried to release a pass. The ball floated in the air and was immediately snatched by senior defensive lineman Jacob Warren, who sprinted 85 yards to put the Indians up 35-0.

“That was my first one,” Warren said of the score. “I couldn’t have done it without my stud ’backer making that play for me. It was really great because the ball just landed right in my hands.”

The Broncos’ only score came courtesy of a 68-yard hookup between Brumfield and Daniel Ashford with 4:24 left.