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Fort Osage defense swarms Hornets for first win

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Fort Osage defenders Daniel Tapusoa (16), Gavin Gilliam (24), David Jacquez (33), Ryan Thorpe (27) and Larenzo Fenner (1) all swarm for a gang tackle on North Kansas City's J'Len Friar as Friar loses his helmet during Fort Osage's 19-14 win Friday.

David Jacquez hopes one day to be mentioned alongside some of the great defensive icons in the storied history of Fort Osage High School football.

The junior linebacker helped cement his legacy with a stellar performance in Friday night’s 19-14 victory over a previously undefeated North Kansas City team that had downed the Indians the past two seasons.

Jacquez finished the night with two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a recovery on a muffed Hornets’ punt and nine tackles to anchor a young but aggressive Indians defense that paced an upset victory.

With his team clinging to that five-point lead, he made two late tackles that ended any hopes of a Northtown comeback on the Indians' home turf.

The game didn’t start the way Jacquez or any of his teammates hoped, as the Hornets marched 79 yards down the field to take a quick 7-0 lead on a 5-yard run by J’Len Friar.

“They punched us in the mouth on that first drive, and we didn’t like it,” Jacquez said. “We hadn’t won a game this year, and it was like Coach (Brock) Bult said, it was like someone flipped a switch and we became a different team the rest of the night.

“We started punching back, and we played our best game of the season. We’re so young, with so many sophomores starting in key positions, and we all needed a win like this to build our confidence.

“I can’t say enough good things about our coaches, our offense, our defense and our fans. Did you hear our fans? Because of the COVID we didn’t have many fans in the stands, but they made a lot of noise and really motivated us.”

Fort Osage's Larenzo Fenner (1) and C.J. Deboe (12) celebrate a forced turnover during their team's 19-14 win over North Kansas City.

Jacquez’s recovery of a botched punt catch led to the Indians’ first score as Xander Shepherd kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game at 9:01 of the second quarter.

Jacquez’s second fumble recovery set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Greg Menne to Javen Hall at 5:07. Shepherd’s extra point hit the crossbar and the score stood at 9-7.

On their next possession, the Indians’ sophomore quarterback hit Corey Olvera on a 37-yard screen pass that set up a 9-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Larry Jones. Shepherd’s extra point gave the Indians a 16-7 lead at halftime.

Fort Osage's Nathan Dunne (34) stops North Kansas City quarterback Richard Pearson for a loss during Fort Osage's 19-14 victory.

A 42-yard pass to Larenzo Fenner – another sophomore standout – took the ball to the 4-yard line. It appeared Fenner had bulled over two Hornet defenders to score, but he had stepped out of bounds before that.

When the drive stalled, Shepherd hit his second field goal of the night, a 20-yarder to make the score 19-7.

That’s when the Indians defense took over.

“I think we were in better shape than they were, because they carried the ball all night until the very end when they had to throw the ball a couple of times,” said senior linebacker Nathan Dunne, who stood tall alongside Jacquez to anchor the Indians defense.

“We knew they were going to keep running the ball, and their line is huge and they have that big back (Daniel Joiner, who fumbled the ball three times), but we just kept making tackles.

“We needed a win, and this was a statement win. We’ve been working hard, and all our hard work paid off tonight.”

The Hornets made it interesting when they scored on a 15-yard run by Friar, and then recovered an onside kick with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter.

“We knew we had to turn up the intensity, flip that switch and play great defense, and we did,” Jacquez said.

Fort Osage's Corey Olvera tries to elude the grasp of a North Kansas City defender during Fort Osage's 19-14 win Friday.

A bad snap and holding penalty pushed the Hornets into no-man’s land, and on a fourth-and-34 screen pass, Jacquez made a hit that led to a number of “Oohs” and “Aahs” from the appreciative Fort Osage fans.

“David is just a junior, but he is a real leader on this team,” Bult said. “We have a lot of good leaders on this team.”

The Hornets got the ball back for one final possession and Blake Williams and Tanner Floyd slowed down Friar before Jacquez lowered the boom for his final tackle of the night.

“I told our guys, it was like we flipped the switch tonight and played Fort Osage football,” Bult said, after his team improved to 1-2. “We have five sophomores on defense and six on offense, and they all played well tonight.

“Our quarterback made some mental mistakes – heck, we all make mistakes, I made a lot of mistakes – but they didn’t affect the way he played, and we got a great win, a team win.”

Menne finished the night 13-of-21 passing for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He also was picked off three times.

“The defense was amazing tonight, and I have some amazing wide receivers to pass to,” Menne said. “I’m super excited to be a part of this team. We are a family – we love and care for each other and we worked so hard to get this win. We have a lot of young guys on the team, like me, and our seniors do a great job leading the way and our coaches are amazing. I’m just so excited to get this win.”

As Menne spoke about the game, Dunne, a senior leader, walked by and said, “He’s a sophomore!”

There was a touch of respect in his voice that backed up everything Menne had been discussing.

The Hornets’ Richard Pearson threw the ball just five times – all late in the fourth quarter – and completed one for 3 yards.