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Eagles rally past feisty Bears to stay perfect

By Bill Althaus

There is nothing quite as bothersome to a football coach as distractions during the stretch run of a memorable season.

Friday night at Grain Valley High School brought too many distractions to mention. It was senior night, homecoming and, for the first time in 2020, the visiting team had fans at Moody Murry Field and students were allowed to attend and sit in the home stands to watch what became a 53-22 Eagles victory over William Chrisman.

On top of all that, it was a possible trap game, one a team might overlook as it prepares for the final two games of the regular season against Suburban Middle Six Conference opponents Raytown and Belton.

And for a few minutes in the first period, it appeared coach David Allie’s undefeated Eagles might have fallen prey to the distractions as William Chrisman took just three minutes to go 80 yards and take a 7-0 lead on a 44-yard run by Kameron Thompson.

The Eagles answered, tackling Bears punter Mitchell Cory on the 16 following a bad snap. Grain Valley quarterback Cole Keller found the end zone on a 6-yard run with 4:23 left in the first quarter. A two-point conversion failed, making it 7-6.

To show their first score wasn’t a fluke, the Bears scored on their next possession as Dayne Herl hit Sir’Rahn Felix in the far corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown pass to extend the Bears' lead to 14-6.

“Hats off to Chrisman,” Keller said. “They came and put it to us early in the game. I was impressed by the defensive scheme and how hard they worked out there. But it was time for us to go to work too.”

With Keller leading an offense that scored seven unanswered touchdowns, Eagles players, coaches, fans and parents went home happy following the big win.

Keller was 10 of 16 for 144 yards and three touchdowns – including two pretty fade passes to Parker Bosserman. On the ground, the senior quarterback had 10 carries for 99 yards and three more touchdowns, so his fingerprints were on every Eagles score.

“He’s special,” offensive lineman and homecoming king Jack Bailey said of Keller. “Cole does it all. He’s a great passer – did you see those fades to Bosserman? They were right there where only Parker could catch them. He’s a great runner and he motivates everyone.

“When we got down early, he was encouraging everyone. We knew we’d come back, and Cole was going to lead that comeback.”

Keller cut the deficit to 14-12 as he scored on a 9-yard run. The extra point kick was wide.

From that point on, the night belonged to the Eagles.

Keller hooked up with Bosserman for the first of two fade passes to give the Eagles an 18-14 lead at 5:38 of the second quarter,

The 6-foot-5 quarterback then burst up the middle of the Bears defense to score on a 42-yard run as the Eagles took a 25-14 lead into halftime.

Jaxon Wyatt, who finished with 102 yards on seven carries, got in on the offensive fun as he scored on an 80-yard run on the first play of the third quarter.

Carter Vrlenich then took a pitch from Keller and scored on a 13-yard run. 

A Jayden Jacobson interception set up a 13-yard scoring play to Bosserman, and Keller and Riley Bown hooked up on a 33-yard touchdown play to wrap up a successful senior night.

“On a night like this, there are so many distractions,” Allie said after his team improved to 7-0 and 4-0. “And after those first two touchdowns, I was a little concerned.

“But our guys have had such great focus all season because we never know if the game we play will be our last. We have the chance for a special season, and I couldn’t be any prouder of the way we played tonight.”

When asked about Keller’s performance, Allie smiled.

“He can beat you with his arm, he can beat you with his legs, he can do so many things, and we try to do a lot with our offense and we’re able to do that because of the guy running our offense,” Allie said.

Donovan McBride had a big night as he starred at center, keeping the Bears away from his quarterback, and made life tough for Herl, as the senior standout recorded the first sack of the game.

“They came over here to beat us, and you could tell how much they wanted this game,” McBride said of Chrisman. “They impressed me. They were the better team early in the game, but we were the better team for most of the game and that’s how we won.”

Bears coach Matt Perry saw many positives from his 1-6 and 1-2 Bears.

“We started the night playing really well on offense, and that’s something we can build on,” Perry said. “That’s a very good Grain Valley team, but we didn’t back down. And I was impressed by what we did tonight, especially early in the game.”

Thompson finished the night with 12 carries for 132 yards and one score. Herl was 10 of 18 for 80 yards and one touchdown.