A postseason run to the Missouri Class 5 state championship game furnished its share of teachable moments last season for the Fort Osage Indians.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
The biggest lesson, however, was quite simple.
"In Class 5, it's a bloodbath over here on the Kansas City side of the state," Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz said. "Whoever gets out of here has already been through the wringer. It's just tough. And it's going to be real tough this year."
Class 5 figures to remain strong, and the Indians will remain a contender.
While the Indians' leader, quarterback Steven McBee, has graduated, sophomore Skylar Thompson is an emerging college talent with a big arm.
Eight starters return on offense for Fort Osage, which fell one win short of the school's first football state championship. Among the eight returners, five are linemen headlined by Dalton Miller
"That's a very comforting thing for us," Schartz said "They are a great group and will be the core of our offense."
Ezra Vaoifi is in line to earn the bulk of the backfield carries for the second straight season.
The stout defense of a year ago has more newcomers. Five 11 starters are back from the unit that posted seven shutouts. Linebacker Nathan Iloilo and defensive tackle Tauai Tuala are being counted on to make plays.
"I think the key for us is we're going to have to play through some adversity early in the season," Schartz said. "We're going to play a lot of sophomores. I know they're going to make mistakes. If we're mature enough to handle that and play through it, I think we can be OK at the end of the season."