Fort Osage football falls just short in state semifinal despite mistakes

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

WENTZVILLE, Mo. — Fort Osage head coach Brock Bult managed some self-deprecating humor after his team’s season ended with a 31-14 Class 5 state semifinal loss to Wentzville Holt Friday. 

As he walked to the bus he said, "Well, I guess I'm the coach who ended the streak." 

The streak? 

“We had been to the final every third year since we won it all in 2015," Bult said, sporting a sad smile. "I guess to make up for it we have to come back and win it all next year." 

That sounded good to star receiver and return man Larenzo Fenner, who said, "I'm sorry it ended like this. This is so disappointing." 

An opportunistic Holt team made Fort Osage pay for its mistakes in which the host team claimed a victory that was much closer than the final score might indicate. 

Fort Osage, trailing 17-14 at 8:24 of the fourth quarter, appeared to be heading in for the go-ahead touchdown with first-and-goal from Holt’s 3-yard line.  

But the Indians fumbled on what appeared to be a bad exchange on the snap on the first down play, and Holt’s Kaden Moore, who recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to give Holt a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, scooped up the ball and kept the Indians out of the end zone. 

Two plays later, Holt backup quarterback Owen Merrell ran for a 94-yard touchdown with 8:02 left to extend Holt’s lead to 24-14, a 14-point swing. 

On its next possession, Holt – which also has Indians as a nickname – scored on a Kyle Weubbeling 67-yard run to seal the victory and end Fort Osage's season. 

"Mistakes, too many mistakes," Bult said after his team finished 11-2. "I'll have to watch film to see what happened on the fumble. Then we miss two tackles on the big run by their quarterback. Those two mistakes hurt." 

Early, it appeared Holt might run away with it as the 13-0 Indians displayed their potent offense, driving 43 yards following a short Fort Osage kickoff. Wuebbeling capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run with 10:10 left in the first quarter. 

Fort Osage's defense held strong on Holt's next series, coming up with a big stop on fourth-and-one from the 3-yard line. 

Holt, though, stopped the Indians and then blocked Greg Menne's punt from the end zone. Moore recovered it for the 14-0 lead with 4:01 left in the first. 

Holt then made a big mistake on the ensuing kickoff as Larenzo Fenner returned the kick 91 yards for a score. He broke through an initial wave of tacklers and eluded the final two Holt players to cut the deficit to 14-7 at 3:45 of the second quarter. 

A Fort Osage fumble gave Holt the ball in the closing minute of the second quarter, but Fort kept Holt out of the end zone, as the host Indians had to settle for Braden Burthaart’s 19-yard field goal to make it 17-7 at halftime. 

Fort Osage, who has either been tied 0-0 or trailed at the half of each of its last three games, came roaring out of the locker room. Junior quarterback Greg Menne connected with Christen Penamon on a 27-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 17-14 with 9:29 left in the third quarter. 

"We came out of the half with a lot of confidence, scored that touchdown, then the mistakes happened," Bult said. "And Holt made us pay for them." 

Fenner and many of the Fort Osage starters are juniors and underclassmen who, like Bult said, plan on a strong 2022 season. 

"We're going to be thinking about this loss every day until next season," said Menne, who was 9 of 19 passing for 81 yards. "I feel so bad for our seniors. We wanted to win this one for them."