Grain Valley's 'dream season' keeps rolling along
The dream lives on for a group of Grain Valley High School seniors who have played on the same teams since second grade.
Not only are they enjoying an undefeated season – following Friday night’s 35-0 victory at Fort Osage – they are getting to play despite the widespread fears of the COVID-19 pandemic keeping them away from the game they love, and have often dominated this season.
“This is the season we’ve dreamed about since we were in second grade,” said quarterback Cole Keller, who was 6 of 8 passing for 89 yards and two touchdowns and carried the ball 11 times for 145 yards, including a game-opening 83-yard touchdown run in which he broke through the Indians interior line and outran a group of would-be tacklers.
“All summer, it was like, ‘Is there going to be a season,’ that was all any of us wanted to know. Then, we got our first game in, and our second and now we’re in Week 6 and loving every minute of this season. So far, it’s just as special as we’d hoped for.”
Wide receiver Carter Vrlenich agreed.
“This season has been a blast,” said Vrlenich, who snaked his way down the sidelines, caught an uncontested pass and then eluded three Indians near the goal line on a 44-yard touchdown as time ran out in the first half. “With our running game and our passing game and our defense, we’re really having a lot of success this season.”
Two who anchor that Eagles defense are Hunter Newsom (14.5 tackles) and lineman Donovan McBride (two sacks). Grain Valley allowed the Indians just 106 total yards of offense.
They appreciated Vrlenich’s nod to the defense.
“This is it, the dream season, the season we’ve been waiting for,” said Newsom, who also got in on the offensive fun as he scored on a 6-yard pitchout from Keller to make it 14-0. “We’ve been working hard, and all that hard work is paying off. We’d score a touchdown, shut them down, and our offense would score another touchdown. Everything was working tonight.”
McBride, who also starts at center, added, “This is so awesome. We work against each other every day at practice and we’ve played together since we were little kids. We were all hoping this season would happen because we knew it could be really successful. And so far, it has been.”
The Eagles, ranked fourth in the Class 5 state poll, added two touchdowns in the second half as Jaxon Wyatt scored on a burst up the middle for a 61 yards and Keller and Parker Bosserman hooked up on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 9:54 left.
“Our offense and defense really clicked tonight,” Eagles coach David Allie said after his team improved to 6-0 and 2-0 in the Suburban Middle Six. “But don’t forget our special teams. (Pierson) Jaynes hit all his extra points, (Keegan) Hart had that big (43-yard) punt return (to set up Newsom’s touchdown) and we got that fumble on the punt (Jayden Jacobson recovering, that led to Bosserman’s TD reception).
“We’re really playing well. You can tell how hard our guys are working and how much they care for each other. We have nothing but conference opponents the rest of the way, so it’s not going to get any easier.”
While the Eagles have a senior dominated team, the youthful 1-6 and 0-3 Indians are taking their lumps, while getting valuable experience.
“What you saw tonight,” Indians coach Brock Bult said, “was the difference between a team with 30 seniors and a team with 30 sophomores. I’m proud of our guys. We almost scored at the end and we’re getting so much experience that it is going to pay dividends.
“We’re going to keep working hard, lovin’ on them, and teaching them and we’re going to do our best to have some more success this season.”
Sophomore quarterback Greg Menne, who was 15 of 23 passing for 91 yards while spending much of the night scrambling, agreed with his coach.
“We never gave up tonight and we’re never going to give up the rest of the season,” Menne said. “They have a lot more experience that we do, but all our young guys are getting experience every week that is going to pay off.
“Now, we just have to have short-term memory, and not let our record affect us, and work hard at practice and win some games the rest of the season.”