It will be like looking in the mirror for head coach Brock Bult and his Fort Osage football team when it plays in the Class 5 state quarterfinals.
The Indians (7-4) will take on No. 2 state-ranked Staley (9-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Staley High School in a matchup of teams that have similar styles of play.
“Our teams are built very similar,” Bult said. “We try to stop the run and we run the ball. It’s like basically playing each other. When Fort Osage and Staley play, you know what you’re getting.”
That appears to a be a fair assessment from Bult, whose team might be playing against the best defense its seen all season. The Falcons have surrendered only a paltry 9.36 points per game and shut out both of their opponents in the playoffs. The Falcons defeated Oak Park 24-0 and topped North Kansas City 44-0 to claim their district title last week. The latter victory might have been the most impressive against a high-powered Hornets offense, which had averaged 33 points per game.
They held Simone Award candidate and star Northtown running back CJ Price, who finished the season with 3,014 yards rushing, to just 126 yards. In fact, the Hornets scored 34 points or more in every game this season except a 19-18 win over Fort Osage and the 44-0 loss to Staley.
The Falcons’ defense presents many challenges for Fort Osage. Staley has a strong pass rush and a stout secondary led by cornerbacks Landon Donaldson and Dominique Lyons and safety Quinten Arello. The trio has combined for 11 interceptions.
“They are super sound defensively,” Fort Osage wide receiver Richard Wiseman Jr. said. “They blitz a lot and bring extra heat because they know their secondary can have their back on that. They know their front seven can get to the ball quicker than their quarterback can get it out.”
“They blitz so much, they have so many coverages. They use a Cover 3, Cover 0 and Cover 1. They have lived on that, and it hasn’t hurt them.”
That will be what Fort Osage quarterback Ty Baker and his offense will be up against. The Indians lost two of their offensive lineman to season-ending injuries midway through the season and lost dynamic junior wide receiver Dominic Myers to a leg injury against William Chrisman in the Class 5 District 7 semifinals. But that’s something Bult said his team can handle. At one point, the Indians had nine starters on offense and defense out because of injuries.
The Indians faced a little bit of adversity in the first half of last week’s district title game against Belton, when they fell behind 7-0 in the second quarter and struggled to stop the Pirates’ rushing attack. However, Fort Osage got a late touchdown in the first half to tie it and scored four unanswered touchdowns in a 28-7 win.
“We have faced so much adversity this year, that a little adversity in a game doesn’t seem to faze us any more,” Bult said. “That’s what I like best about this team right now.”
Fort Osage’s defense is no slouch either. The Indians have surrendered just 15.1 points per game.
“I think our defense is up there with Staley,” Indians cornerback Cahleel Smith said. “Our defense is one of the better ones in the state. Our defense has been pretty good and has gotten the job done (in the playoffs).”
Fort Osage will try to stop a run-heavy Staley offense led by the shifty Jaden Moss, who rushed for 163 yards on 16 carries against Northtown and has 879 yards on the season.
“They have three or four backs that they like to give the ball to and they keep them fresh,” Bult said. “They like to run the ball and they keep doing it.”
It will be one of the toughest matchups of the season for the Indians, but their players are excited to play a former Suburban Middle Seven Conference rival, who is now a part of the Suburban Large Seven. Last season, Staley defeated Fort Osage 28-14 in the state quarterfinals and has been a longtime nemesis for the Indians.
“It is (exciting to play Staley), especially with them ending our season last year,” Bult said. “I know our kids wanted another shot at them. It’s a big rival game. You can’t ask for much more in the playoffs. It should be a fun game.”