When Ryan Schartz led his Fort Osage High School football team to the first perfect regular-season record in school history and a berth in the Class 5 state championship football game, he was a shoo-in for The Examiner’s 2009 Coach of the Year Award.

When Ryan Schartz led his Fort Osage High School football team to the first perfect regular-season record in school history and a berth in the Class 5 state championship football game, he was a shoo-in for The Examiner’s 2009 Coach of the Year Award.

Yet he joked about that season, “All the coaches did was tell the guys where to be on Friday night and they took care of the rest.”

His Indians squad was loaded with talent, including University of Missouri defensive back and Examiner Defensive Player of the Year E.J. Gaines and a handful of Examiner All-Area standouts.

That squad graduated nine players on offense – including every skill position player – and eight on defense.

The doom-and-gloom crowd said that Fort’s remarkable run at postseason play and excellence during the regular season would come to an end in 2010.

Boy, did the Indians prove them wrong.

“As good a job as Coach Schartz and his assistant coaches did in 2009, I believe they did an even better job this season,” said Fort Osage activities director Brandon Hart, a former standout linebacker at Blue Springs High School who knows a thing or two about getting the job done Friday night under the lights.

“I heard people saying we might not win a conference game. Others were saying that we were so young that this would be a rebuilding year. Well, if 7-4 is a rebuilding year, we’ll take it.”

The Indians were 7-3 in the regular season, finished second in district play, losing a heart-breaking regular-season finale 20-14 to Park Hill South. They earned a postseason berth for the fifth year in a row and lost the opening round game to a tough Staley team.

In a near unanimous vote, Schartz has been named The Examiner’s Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.

“What?” asked Schartz, when he was told about the honor. “You gotta’ be kidding me? I’m surprised – but I am also very pleased and honored.

“And I can’t wait to tell my coaches about this award, because we share things like this on the staff. They worked so hard this year – maybe as hard as they’ve worked since we’ve been here.

“And this is a testimony to the work ethic of our staff.”

The Indians were not the same offensive juggernaut that steam-rolled opposing defenses in 2009. But they found a way to win.

“I’ll admit, some nights it wasn’t very pretty,” Schartz said, grinning, “but a win is a win – especially when you only play 10 games (during the regular season).

“The reason I think we were successful this season is because we have established a program here at Fort Osage that everyone believes in – the players, the coaches, the administration – we’re all on the same page.

“And the kids know what to expect once they get to the high school level because of the way they are coached at the middle school. When I got here six years ago, I wanted to establish a program, a foundation; something we could all believe in.”

He inherited a team that was on a two-year losing streak that had won just one game in its previous 20.

He won his first game that season, ending the skid, and has gone on to develop one of the most respected programs in the state.

“Coach Schartz and his staff are doing a lot of good things out at Fort Osage,” said Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe, whose Wildcats were also undefeated in the regular season in 2009 and advanced to the Class 6 state championship game.

“We have a lot of respect for what they’ve accomplished out there.”

When asked about developing a winning program, Schartz had a ready answer.

“Everyone has to buy in,” he said, “and I mean the players, the coaches, the trainers, everyone. We struggled offensively this year, because we had nine new starters in there.

“We had two linemen back, and that was it. But the kids were familiar with the program, they knew what to expect once practice started and they worked their butts off to have a successful season.

“Sometimes, when you’re 7-4, a coaching staff works a lot harder, than when you have one of those dream seasons like we had two years ago.

“That’s why this award is so special for me and everyone associated with our program.”