'Human highlight machine': Junior Larenzo Fenner provides spark for semifinal-bound Fort Osage

Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Fort Osage's Larenzo Fenner (1) breaks free during Friday's game against William Chrisman. Fenner scored three touchdowns – two on punt returns – to lead the Indians to a 49-14 win over the rival Bears to clinch the Suburban Middle Six Conference title and a No. 1 seed in their district.

Brock Bult is a tight-lipped, old-school coach who rarely has something to say. But when he makes a comment, it comes straight from the heart and isn't taken lightly. 

Throughout this 11-1 season, in which his Fort Osage High School football team has surprised many area prep fans following 2020’s 3-7 campaign, Bult and his staff have worked hard to get the best from a team that still features many underclassmen. 

One of them is junior wide receiver and return man Larenzo Fenner, perhaps the most electric overall player in recent school history. 

He has 48 receptions for 746 yards and seven touchdowns. He is the definition of a marquee player, a big-time receiver who keeps opposing defensive coordinators wide awake at night.

More:Fort Osage defense wears down Grain Valley to earn Class 5 state semifinal berth

Yet it’s his return game that has thrust him in the spotlight week after week and made him a Division I recruit as he has 11 kickoff returns for 281 yards (25.5-yard average) and 15 punt returns for 351 yards (23.4 average) and four touchdowns. He also leads the Indians in all-purpose yardage.

Fenner doesn’t mention this, but five of his touchdown returns were called back because of penalties. 

“He’s a human highlight machine,” Bult said. “We talk about this after each game, and what can you say that hasn’t already been said 100 times? He’s amazing. But you know what I like the most about Larenzo? He’s a team player and a great blocker. 

“Last week at Grain Valley he had a fumble early in the game and he was mad, really mad, at himself. On our next offensive series, he had a pancake block that sprung a big run.

More:Fort Osage vs. Grain Valley in Class 5 football state quarterfinal

Fort Osage receiver Larenzo Fenner (1) finds a hole in the Blue Springs South defense in a game earlier this season. The junior has been a force catching passes and returning kickoffs and punts for the 11-1 Indians.

“Everyone sees the big catches and returns, but I see the little things, the little things that make him such a great competitor, such a great teammate. We love the kid, and we have him another year since he’s just a junior.” 

Offensive coordinator Simo Atagi feels the same way about Fenner, who said he has played football since he was 3 years old. 

“I call the offensive plays, and it’s tough not to call a pass to him every play,” joked Atagi, who believes in the running style of football that has made the Indians one of the most successful teams in the metro area for more than a decade. 

“We have that Fort Osage running game, and when you add Larenzo’s speed and pass catching abilities to it, it just adds a new dimension.” 

Suburban Middle Six Conference Defensive Player of the Year David Jacquez, a senior linebacker, likes watching him from the sidelines when the offense is on the field. 

“He’s the best return man and wide receiver I’ve ever seen or played with,” Jacquez said. “He has this ability to make guys miss tackles who are right in front of him. I don’t know how he does it.” 

Fort Osage receiver Larenzo Fenner turns to run after making a catch in a game against Blue Springs South earlier this season. The junior has become the 11-1 Indians' top threat and leads the team in all-purpose yardage.

And neither does Fenner. 

“I watch game film, and I’m surrounded by some guys and I get away, and I really don’t know how I do it,” Fenner said. “I surprise myself. But I work hard to make it look easy, if that makes any sense.” 

And despite his success, Fenner is one of the most respected and popular players on the team. 

“He’s a magician,” quarterback Greg Menne said. “If I get the ball anywhere near him, he’s going to catch it and do something big time. I can’t believe what he does on the field – I just can’t believe it. And he’s just one of the guys, he likes to act all crazy and have fun like the rest of us.”

More:Xander Shepherd's kick sends Fort Osage into district title game

But Fenner is all business on the field as he and the Indians look to wipe out the memory of last year’s rare losing season. 

“I work hard – we all do,” Fenner said. “After we just won three games last season and lost our final game, we were all back out working, because we knew we had the talent to have a special season this year and a lot of us are going to be back next year. But all we’re focused on right now is Holt, who we play in the semis Friday night (at 6 p.m. in Wentzville). 

“We’re a game away from state and this week, we’re just going to keep working hard, doing the things that helped us get this far. We’re more than a team, we’re a brotherhood, and when you’re playing for your brothers, you work even harder. 

“And we’re playing for the best coaches in the state. I am blessed and honored to be an Indian. I thank God every day for putting me here with this coaching staff and my teammates.”