Grain Valley shows no rust in getting revenge
As the Grain Valley offense ran over, around and through a stunned Raytown defense Friday, an exhausted Blue Jays defensive lineman turned to quarterback Cole Keller and said, “Man, you guys been in the lab getting ready for this game?”
Keller grinned, and took some satisfaction in getting the 42-7 Class 5 District 7 championship victory over a Raytown team that handed his Eagles their lone loss of the regular season, a 21-14 setback on the last play of the game on Oct. 16.
The 10-1 Eagles showed no rust following a two-week layoff. They were the No. 1 seed in district play and earned a bye week, then did not play last week because their semifinal opponent, William Chrisman, had to cancel the game due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the team.
In their first season in Class 5, the Eagles advanced to a Nov. 20 state quarterfinal game at Platte County, which downed Staley 33-13 Friday.
Grain Valley, playing in front of a vocal and socially distanced home crowd, started the game on a 68-yard touchdown drive that Keller ran to perfection, using a no-huddle offense to confound the Blue Jays. Keller had one carry for no yards on the drive and Parker Bosserman, a 150-pound all-purpose player, carried the ball nine times for all 68 yards.
“We wanted to give them a new look and Parker, man, he’s not intimidating at all until he gets the ball in his hands,” Keller said after the Eagles won their second straight district title. “That drive was the perfect way to start the night. We went with that no-huddle and a couple of their guys looked gassed at the end of the drive.”
When asked about the drive, Bosserman just grinned and said, “I wasn’t expecting it. But I’m glad I got to carry the ball as much as I did tonight. It was fun, and I’ve been pumping up the line all week and they came through huge tonight.”
A sack by sophomore defensive back Keegan Hart – who also had his second two-interception game of the season – set up the Eagles’ second drive.
That possession was a bit more explosive as Keller scored out of a rhino package, with three backs. He got a step on the last defender and ran 75 yards for the score.
“Cole was just about perfect tonight running our offense,” Grain Valley coach David Allie said. “He’s so intuitive, he just knew which plays to call and our line did a great job. We were missing some key guys tonight on offense and defense and everyone who played took their game to the next level.”
He paused for a moment, and added, “Cole is such a great kid away from the game, but when he steps on the field he is as fierce a competitor as I have ever coached. You could say the same thing about Bosserman. He’d stomp on his grandma’s face to beat you.”
That comment even brought a smile to Allie’s eyes, with his face shielded by his ever-present mask.
“We had a great game plan tonight offensively and defensively. Pete (Carpino, his longtime defensive coordinator) had the defense ready to go. We took everything away from them they used to beat us in the regular season.”
The Eagles wrapped up the first half with a 1-yard Keller touchdown run and a back-breaking 52-yard touchdown pass to speedy Logan Pratt, who was playing his first game of the season after arthroscopic knee surgery.
The pass was Keller’s first of the game.
“Logan is so fast,” Keller said, “I just threw it out there as far as I could and he ran under it and caught it. It’s so great to have him back.”
The Blue Jays showed they still had plenty of fight as they scored their lone touchdown on their first series of the second half, with quarterback Nate Whitebear scoring on a 7-yard run.
The Eagles quickly answered with Hunter Newsom’s 24-yard touchdown run and Keller’s second TD run of the night, a 55-yarder at 2:26 of the third quarter. That set up the mercy rule, and a running clock the remainder of the game.
“If anything, I think we were overprepared tonight,” Newsom said. “We were focused. We watched film, on our own and as a team, and we knew that our coaches were giving us every opportunity to win this game.”
He even threw a shoutout to Hart, his sophomore defensive teammate.
“How about the kid?” Newsom asked, pointing in Hart’s direction. “Two picks and a sack. He can play!”
Hart’s second interception ended the game, as he was mobbed by his teammates at midfield.
“It feels good to play as a sophomore,” the soft spoken Hart said, “but it feels even better to contribute. This was such a great win after losing to them in the regular season.”
Keller finished the night with seven carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Bosserman was right behind with 19 carries for 95 yards as the Eagles amassed 267 yards rushing.
The Eagles defense totaled six sacks, with Newsom in on two of them. The senior linebacker led all players with 16 tackles. Bosserman also averaged 43 yards on three punts.
The Eagles limited Raytown running back Zahmari Gary to just 40 yards on 11 carries after he rushed for 255 yards and the game-winning score in the Oct. 16 game. The Blue Jays finished with just 125 yards on 47 carries, an average of just 2.7 yards per carry.