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Undefeated Eagles having 'so much fun'

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Grain Valley linebacker Hunter Newsom (25) celebrates after sacking Kearney quarterback Dawson Meinert (9) in Friday's game at Grain Valley. The Eagles sacked Meinert four times, forced two turnovers and limited Kearney to just 159 total yards in a 38-14 win.

With surgical precision, Cole Keller – also known as the quarterback for the 5-0 Grain Valley football team – sliced and diced a solid Kearney defensive unit.

Meanwhile his Eagle defensive mates played the type of smash-mouth football that leads to a 28-0 halftime lead and a 38-14 victory.

“Cole did perform surgery out there tonight,” said his longtime friend and favorite target Parker Bosserman, who caught seven passes for 108 yards and a 30-yard touchdown. “His passes were really sharp tonight, everything was right there for me to catch. “Football is not an easy game, but he made it look easy in the first half.”

Keller led the Eagles to four touchdowns on their first four possessions:

• 19-yard Keller touchdown run at 7:30 of the first quarter.

• 2-yard run by workhorse running back Jaxon Wyatt at 1:04 of the first.

• The 30-yard strike to Bosserman at 9:08 of the second.

• And a 4-yard run by Wyatt, with Keller throwing a key block near the goal line at 3:02 of the second.

Grain Valley receiver Carter Vrlinich , left, hauls in a contested pass against Kearney's John Timchak (3) in Friday's game at Grain Valley.  The play went for 36 yards as the Eagles went on to a 38-14 win.

“The beauty of having a quarterback like Cole is that he is as effective with his arm as he is his legs,” Grain Valley coach David Allie said. “And he had a great game tonight. That first half was just about as good of a half as we’ve had this season, and we’ve been playing well. Now, we just have to keep it going, because like I’ve told you all season, we never know when it will be our last game with this COVID stuff going on.”

Grain Valley quarterback Cole Keller (1) celebrates with teammate Carter Vrlinich (13) after scoring a touchdown in Friday's home game against Kearney. Keller and the Eagles stayed undefeated with a 38-14 victory.

Longtime defensive coordinator Pete Carpino stressed that following the game, as he told his players in the north end zone, “OK, that’s another state championship win!” – using the win as a metaphor for a season that could end without notice.

After Carpino’s remark, a voice from the back of the pack cried out, “We’ve won five state championships this season!”

That brought a wave of laughter as the Eagles, who are ranked No. 4 in the Class 5 state media poll, left the field to visit with family and friends.

“This was so much fun,” said Keller, who was 8 of 9 for 91 yards in the first half and finished the game completing 11 of 17 passes for 174 yards and one score and rushing eight times for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

“That first half was amazing. Our defense didn’t give them anything, Parker was always there whenever I threw him the ball and Jaxon was the man! Our line opened some huge holes and he made Kearney pay.”

Wyatt finished the game carrying the ball 31 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

Grain Valley running back Jaxon Wyatt (45) runs for some tough yardage against Kearney's Trenton Vaughan (31) and Daryn Langford in Friday's game at Moody Murry Field. Wyatt ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns to help the Eagles to a 38-14 win.

“We gave him a seam and he did the rest,” senior offensive lineman Jack Bailey said. “This might be the best we (the offensive line) have played this season and Jack took care of the rest. You want to work hard when a guy is running like he is and when Cole is having the type of game he had. Just a great night.”

Wyatt nodded in agreement with every statement Bailey made.

“I’ve seen a lot of offensive lines this season,” Wyatt said, “and I’d take ours over all of them. I’m just so proud to be a part of this team and so proud of what we all did tonight.”

Once again sophomore defensive back Keegan Hart and senior linebacker Hunter Newsom were the defensive ring leaders, along with Zach Kirk, who had two sacks and five tackles. Hart led the Eagles with 8.5 tackles and Newsom added 7.5.

Grain Valley's Sawyer Farris (55) and Zach Kirk, bottom, sack Kearney quarterback Dawson Meinert (9) in Friday's game. Grain Valley recorded four sacks in a 38-14 win over the Bulldogs.

The Eagles totaled four sacks, forced a fumble and an interception and limited the Bulldogs to just 159 yards total offense.

“We have such great chemistry on and off the field,” said Newsom, a senior who feared this summer there may be no football in the fall. “All I thought about was, ‘We have to have football in the fall.’ And now that we do, we’re making the most of it. This is the most fun I’ve ever had playing football, and you can tell all the guys feel the same way.”

Grain Valley – which amassed 437 yards, including 265 on the ground – took a 28-0 lead into halftime and gave up a quick 6-yard touchdown run by Kearney’s Jake Lowery to make it 28-7 with 7:57 left in the third quarter.

“We gave up that score, and then really responded after that,” Allie said. “Cole scored (7-yard run) on our next possession and we got that (27-yard) field goal from (Pierson) Jaynes, and then we put the young guys in to finish the game.

“We have something we can improve on, but overall, I was really happy with our effort.”