A serious left knee injury cost Fort Osage running back Ezra Vaoifi his sophomore season two years ago. The following fall, with his knee still ginger, Vaoifi wondered aloud if he would ever return to pre-surgery form.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
He’s certainly back now. And then some.
Two years after ACL surgery, Vaoifi was a workhorse running back for the second straight week Friday night. He ran for 238 yards and two touchdowns, helping Fort Osage rout Blue Springs South 40-9.
“I’m finally back,” he said. “It was definitely in the back of my mind last year because I was slower and I wasn’t making my quick cuts. I finally feel like I can rely on it more.”
In turn, the Indians have opted to rely on him. A lot.
A week after carrying the ball 30 times for 313 yards, he rushed 32 times Friday and watched as his offensive line wear down the Blue Springs South defense.
Vaoifi has 551 yards in two weeks. Ironically, that exactly matches his total from last season.
Indeed, the left knee is feeling good.
“He’s running really strong and powerful right now,” Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz said. “He’s getting behind his pads and just punishing people. He’s been waiting on this for awhile.”
Fort Osage defeated Blue Springs South for the second straight season. This one, however, came in a much different fashion.
A year after the same two teams totaled only six points during a tropical depression, Blue Springs South needed just six plays to match that output.
Quarterback Chris Swingle hit Brandin Dandridge in stride for a 16-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the night. But it was a short night for Swingle, a first-year starter, who injured his right ankle at the end of a 42-yard scamper early into the second quarter. He never returned, and the Jaguars never recovered.
They didn’t gain a first down for more than 24 minutes of play while Colton Pogue and Noah Nigro rotated at quarterback. Blue Springs South, 1-1, had only 67 yards of offense after trailing 12-9 at halftime.
“It didn’t look like we even practiced at times,” Blue Springs South coach Greg Oder said. “Pretty sloppy. Your defense is out there so much that they’re getting tired.”
It was an efficient night for the quarterback on the other side, Fort Osage senior Skylar Thompson, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 153 yards. He added his first career touchdown — a 15-yard strike to Jesse McBee — to put the Indians on the board.
Vaoifi opened the second-half scoring with a 3-yard score before adding a 48-yard touchdown later in the third.
Bailey Williamson scored on a 30-yard run, and Josh Tuimaseve capped the scoring with a 13-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
It all added up to this: Fort Osage is off to a 2-0 start a year after reaching Missouri Class 5 state championship game.
“We could do one of two things — we could get over confidence and get cocky, or we can build on it,” Schartz said. “We’re going to keep their eyes focused so we can keep grinding.”
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