High school football previews: Fort Osage has mix of experience, youth

Bill Althaus
Fort Osage receiver Larenzo Fenner (25) is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning touchdown in last year's district upset of Raytown. Fenner, a sophomore, is expected to form a strong combination with senior receiver Will Snodgrass and sophomore quarterback Greg Menne for the Indians this season.

Brock Bult and his Fort Osage High School football team are eagerly anticipating their Friday night season opener against Kearney, now that the 27 Suburban Conference districts have voted unanimously to go ahead with a fall sports season.

And it appears that the game against Kearney will be played, although a Bulldogs junior varsity player tested positive for COVID-19 and there are 14 players in quarantine. The game was supposed to be played at Fort Osage but it has been moved to Kearney to allow more Fort Osage parents and fans to attend, the school said Wednesday afternoon on Twitter.

“We are canceling our opening JV game, but we plan on playing Fort Osage Friday night,” Keaney activities director David Schwarzenbach said Tuesday. “If this had been a varsity player, we might not have been able to play, but since it was a JV player, we will have enough players to play Fort Osage on Friday.”

Schwarzenbach said the school has been working closing with the Clay County Health Department, who is monitoring the situation.

“The Clay County Health Department has been great to work with,” Schwarzenbach added.

The Indians have nine players back on the offensive side of the ball who started at least one game in 2019 and four returnees on the defensive side.

“It’s Tuesday, and we’re still playing Kearney on Friday, so we are excited,” Bult said before practice. “We’ve heard about the situation at Kearney and we’re thinking about them – that’s gotta be so tough to go through.

“Our guys are working hard. There are a lot of distractions, but we’re practicing like we’re going to play an entire season.”

Fort Osage head coach Brock Bult speaks with his team after a recent practice.

Despite the off-the-field pandemic issues, Bult and his squad are excited about the start of a new season.

“We are looking forward to this year,” Bult said. “We have a great mixture of strong senior leadership and young talent. There will be growing pains along the way but we are confident that our kids will grow throughout the season and be ready to go when it matters.” 

Two of those promising youngsters are sophomore quarterback Greg Menne and sophomore wide receiver Larenzo Fenner.

“Menne can throw the ball and Fenner can catch it,” Bult said. “Fenner was second team all-conference and Greg played against Park Hill, and you could see the promise of what he could do this year as a starter. He just looks the part and the kids all respect him. And Fenner is just an athlete, he can play.”

Another target for Menne is senior Will Snodgrass, whose 6-2, 195-pound frame will be a welcome target.

“Have you seen Will?” Bult asked. “He’s an animal! He’s worked so hard this offseason and that hard work is going to pay off this season.

“We also have some key players back on the line and some guys who can run the ball. This is one of the most athletic teams we’ve had on both sides of the ball.”

Seniors Snodgrass and safety Blake Williams and senior linebacker David Jacquez share their coach’s enthusiasm.

“We’re a family at Fort Osage and I can’t wait to take the field with my Fort brothers,” Snodgrass said. “We have such a great legacy at Fort Osage and we want to add to that this year.

“And I think we have the talent to get the job done.”

Jacquez hopes to join the ranks of the former great Indian defensive stars and make an impact this season.

“It means so much to me to be a part of this team and this linebacking group,” Jacquez said. “You think of guys like Von Young (a former Examiner Defensive Player of the Year who is playing at Missouri State) and all the other great defensive players and I just hope to be mentioned along with them when I’m through playing here.

“We have some great defensive players this year and I think we can have a great season.”

Linebacker David Jacquez, from left, safety Blake Williams and wide receiver Will Snodgrass huddle before practice at Fort Osage High School. The trio could play an important role in the 2020 success of the Indians.

As a senior, this season means everything to Williams.

“I felt so bad for all those seniors who missed out on playing in the spring and now, it looks like we’re going to get to play and that means so much to me and all the guys on the team,” Williams said. “We have great coaches and I wouldn’t want to play with any other team. It’s special out here at Fort Osage and we want to have a special season.”

With just four returning starters on defense, including Jacquez and Williams, Bult believes his defense will be a work in progress – a successful work in progress.

“You’re going to see a different defense in Week 9 than the one you see in Week 1 – and we could be pretty good Week 1,” Bult said. “We have some guys who got a taste of Friday night under the lights last year and that is going to help. And the guys we have coming back can play.”

Indians at a glance

Head coach: Brock Bult (fifth season, 29-19 at Fort Osage and overall).

2019 record: 6-5 (5-1 Suburban Middle Seven conference champions).

Assistant coaches: Zach Dudley, Josh Terhune, Anthony Jacobs, Joe Bedard, Craig Brown, Derrick Barker, Phillip Maggio, Quincy Tillmon, Rick Ammons, Sam Bennett, Brandon Wackerman, Chris Ray

Returning letter-winners: 13

Returning offensive starters: Larenzo Fenner, 6-10, 160, soph., WR; Will Snodgrass, 6-2, 195, sr., WR; Javen Hall, 5-10, 170, jr., WR; Benjamin Nettleton, 6-2, 185, sr., WR; Greg Menne, 6-1, 185, soph., QB; Zach Domanski, 6-0, 232, sr., RB; Tyler Vogler, 6-2, 260, sr., OL; Brock Branstietter, 6-2, 325, soph., OL; Gregory Ulberg, 6-1, 290, soph., OL.

Returning defensive starters: David Jacquez, 6-0, 185., jr., LB; Kale Rupniewski, 6-3, 210, jr., LB; Roman Tillmon, 5-10, 160, soph., DB; Blake Williams, 5-10, 150, sr., DB.

Others to watch: Corey Olvera, 5-8, 200, jr., RB; Larry Jones, 5-10, 150, soph., RB; Aaron Washington, 6-5, 280, jr., DL; Tanner Floyd, 5-9, 140, sr., DB.