The smallest guy on the field played one of the biggest roles in the biggest win of the season for Fort Osage High School.
The smallest guy on the field played one of the biggest roles in the biggest win of the season for Fort Osage High School as sophomore Hayden Baumgartner booted a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that gave the Indians their final points in a defensive-minded 16-7 victory over visiting Ozark in Class 5 semifinal action.
That punched the Indians’ ticket to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, where they will play for the Class 5 state championship next Friday against Kirkwood.
“That was definitely the biggest field goal of my life,” said Baumgartner, who sailed the kick well beyond the bleachers that hold the Indians marching band. “Everything was perfect – the snap, the hold, my follow-through – it was just like it all happened in slow motion.”
Indians quarterback Steven McBee praised the cool, calm approach Baumgartner displayed prior to the kick.
“When he came out on the field, I knew he was going to kick it through,” said McBee, the holder. “I felt bad, because we wanted to keep the ball in the center of the field, and it wound up on the left hash mark. But it didn’t matter – he drilled it.”
The field goal might not have happened had it not been for a game-changing sack early in the third period.
Tigers quarterback David Salazar dropped back to pass on a fourth-and-four on the Indian 47 when he was blindsided by Mamu Tauiautusa and Nathan Iloilo.
At the time of the sack, the Tigers held a slim 7-6 lead.
Following the sack, the Indians drove 45 yards and Ezra Vaoifi scored the game-winning touchdown.
But because of a missed two-point conversion on their first score, the Indians held onto a 13-7 lead following Vaoifi’s touchdown.
That made the defensive brilliance of the Indians and Baumgartner’s field goal even more important.
“When we sacked the quarterback,” Iloilo said, “you could feel all the momentum come our way. We got the momentum and we kept it.”
Tauiautusa agreed, adding, “We blitzed our two outside guys and he didn’t know what hit him. The game plan was perfect. The coaches had us ready for everything they threw at us with that single wing offense. It took a series or so to get used to it, but once we did, that was it – they couldn’t do anything.”
The Tigers ran for 50 yards in the first quarter, but totaled just 11 yards over the next three quarters. Ozark finished with 39 carries for 61 yards.
“I guess all that game film we watched was worth it,” defensive coordinator Jon Oyler said. “None of us (coaches) got much sleep this week. Now, I have a baby who’s teething at home, and that had a lot to do with my sleepless nights, but we did spend a lot of time watching film of that single wing.”
Page 2 of 2 - Vaoifi and Iloilo were the only two members of the Indians to play both offense and defense, and each of them said the extra work load simply energized them throughout the game.
“I love offense and I love defense,” said Vaoifi, who is coming back following a series of injuries that sidelined him for much of the 2011 season. “”The touchdown was fun, and it was important to run off the clock at the end of the game to make sure they didn’t have another chance to score.”
In the closing minutes, Vaoifi carried for three consecutive first downs, the set the stage for a heartfelt celebration with their fans following the game.
“When I play offense, it helps me defensively because you see both sides of the field,” Iloilo said. “This defense is special. We want to keep playing like this for one more week, because we want to come back from St. Louis and celebrate our first state championship with our fans.”