Fort Osage posted seven shutouts during the regular season last fall, riding one of the state’s best defenses to the Missouri Class 5 championship game. With two all-state players gone from that unit, along with three other starters, many expected the defense to take a step back this season. It hasn’t. The Indians are 5-0 and holding opponents to only six points per game. No team has reached double-digits against them. Senior linebacker Nathan Iloilo, featuring in this week’s segment of Four Downs, says few inside the locker room are surprised.
1 Why hasn’t the defense shown the effects of losing a lot of talent from last season?
“You know, honestly, the outside opinion was we lost a lot, but as a team, we really had no doubt we’d come back strong. We lost a lot of talent, but the younger guys sitting on the sideline last year have been learning from great players. They’ve stepped up and filled in.”
2 Has your role changed in your senior season?
“It has. People look up to me because of what I’ve been able to achieve. I just feel like a big brother to most of these guys. They show me so much respect, too. It’s easier to lead a group that wants to be led.”
3 How much urgency is there to return to the state championship game this season?
“Words can’t even describe that. At the end of last year when we lost the big one, there was a sense that we could be back there the very next year. That’s been a big goal we’re trying to make the underclassmen understand. This is the year. We no longer just practice for the teams we’re playing. We practice to win a state championship.”
4 How does this team compare to last year’s team that lost only twice?
“I think last year we probably had more individual talent and speed, but this year, it’s all about knowledge. We have some of the smartest kids that have ever been through the program, and a lot of that comes from what we learned last year.”
4 Consecutive wins for Shawnee Mission East to open the season. It’s a bit early, however, to for the Lancers to celebrate. They won their first five games last season before stumbling down the stretch to a 7-3 finish.
6 Total points allowed by Lincoln Prep over the past three weeks. The Tigers have reeled off three straight wins to move atop the Interscholastic League standings with a perfect 3-0 mark in conference play. The defense has turned up the intensity as of late, posting back-to-back shutouts against African Centered and Northeast after yielding only six points in a win against Southwest.
41.8 Points per game for the Winnetonka Griffins over the past four weeks, all wins. Liberty shut out Winnetonka in the season opener, but the Griffins offense has bounced back in style, scoring at least 31 points in each of the next four games. Winnetonka and Kearney are the only two undefeated teams left in the Suburban Blue Conference.
| Sam McDowell, firstname.lastname@example.org