Fort Osage senior running back Ezra Vaoifi scored two touchdowns in the first half against Winnetonka. His tenacious running was one reason why the Indians came away with an impressive 42-7 victory Monday evening in the Missouri Class 5, District 7 championship game.
By DAVID BOYCE
Special to The Star
“They play for each other,” Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz said.
The most impressive play by Vaoifi had nothing to do with scoring and emphasized why Fort Osage remained undefeated and headed to Saturday’s Class 5 quarterfinals with an 11-0 record.
The Indians had treated their home crowd to a comfortable 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter and were driving for another touchdown when Winnetonka senior linebacker Jack Veraguth stripped the ball near Winnetonka’s 25. He raced downfield and appeared headed for the end zone.
Vaoifi was at least 15 yards behind Varaguth, but he chased down Varaguth and tackled him at the 14.
“I saw something going on the other side. I was on the back side,” Vaoifi said. “When I saw the dude sprinting down the sideline, something wasn’t right. I chased after him. I didn’t want him to score.
“I didn’t want it to spark momentum for them. I gave it all I had and turned the burners on, or at least I tried to. Luckily, I was able to stop him.”
Fort Osage’s defense took over and forced a fumble on the next play.
“Ezra wanted to keep that zero on the scoreboard,” Schartz said. “That is probably as fast as I’ve seen him run.”
The Indians used a combination of Vaoifi’s running and the passing of sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson to build their lead.
The first touchdown was a 24-yard run by Vaoifi with 1:25 left in the first quarter. The Indians extended their lead on a 22-yard pass from Thompson to Jesse McBee with 9:32 left in the second quarter.
The most impressive touchdown in the first half came on a screen pass from Thompson to Vaoifi, who made a nifty cut for a 25-yard play.
It was the senior offensive line that opened the holes and gave Thompson plenty of time to throw.
Even with the lead, the Indians went for more because they wanted to take advantage of the wind at their backs. With 2 minutes remaining before halftime, Fort Osage used all three timeouts to get the ball back.
After a short punt into the wind, Fort Osage got the ball at Winnetonka’s 31 with 1:30 left in the second quarter. The Indians moved quickly and scored with 3 seconds left on a 1-yard run by Thompson.
The Indians continued their dominant play at the start of the third quarter, forcing a fumble on the kickoff. Two minutes later, they were in the end zone again on a 1-yard run by Vaoifi, making it 35-0 with 9:32 left in the third quarter.