Former Free State players pitch in on shutout effort for Kansas All-Stars in GKCFCA All-Star Game
photo by: Chris Duderstadt
LEAVENWORTH — Former Free State linebacker Gage Foster was thrilled to have one more chance to put on his FSHS football helmet and play for coach Bob Lisher in the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association All-Star Game, and he didn’t waste any time in making the opportunity worthwhile.
After the Kansas All-Stars came up short on 4th and goal on their first drive, the defense took the field with the Missouri All-Stars pinned on their own 1-yard line. Foster broke through the Missouri front for a safety to account for the first points of the state line showdown, and the Kansas All-Stars rolled from there to a 30-0 victory.
“I think it just got our team going. Missouri, obviously they were picked above us and we were kind of the underdogs,” Foster, who will continue his career at Baker University, said. “We thought that because it’s been so long since we’ve won. Somebody had to get a spark going.
“We couldn’t keep playing dead. I just took the opportunity and I knew my time was up. I rushed off the edge, hit him and it just got us going. It got our blood pumping and thinking that we could do this. We could beat Missouri.”
The Kansas All-Stars continued to capitalize on Foster’s safety, as Olathe South product Jamison Phelps returned the ensuing short kickoff for a touchdown to push the lead to 9-0. Foster and fellow Free State products David Johnson and Bo Miller had heard all week long from Lisher and the other Kansas coaches about Missouri’s seven-game winning streak in the GKCFCA All-Star Game, and they were up to the challenge of putting an abrupt end to it.
Missouri had another golden opportunity to get on the board in the third quarter after getting inside the Kansas 5-yard line. Johnson capped off a goal-line stand, though, with was one of his signature bone-rattling hits. Johnson and the Kansas All-Stars were determined to pitch a shutout, and they did just that.
“We talked about that every day in practice — the seven or eight straight (wins) they had got on us,” Johnson, an Emporia State signee, said. “It was a huge thing for us to get this done.”
Johnson, Miller and Foster took a lot of pride in helping the Firebirds finish the 2017 regular season undefeated, but there is still some pain that they feel from an overtime loss to Derby from the Class 6A state quarterfinals. The win over the Missouri All-Stars wasn’t quite the same as a Free State victory, but it felt good for the FSHS alumni to go out on top while representing the Firebirds.
“When we lost in our last game against Derby, I thought that would be the last one. We’re all still really close and we talk, but it’s just not the same as playing football,” Foster said. “Playing football, we all connect in some way. It’s just a weird thing. We all love each other no matter what.”
Foster and Johnson are both continued their football careers fairly close to home, while Miller is taking his talents to Belmont to throw the javelin. Johnson and Foster enjoyed getting the chance to bond a few of their future college teammates over the past week between practice and the game.
“I’m really excited for that,” Johnson said of playing at Emporia State. “A lot of players here like Jack Petz, Jack Barger, Hayden (Goodpaster) — they’re all going to Emporia State, so I’ve connected with them. That’s pretty cool.”
Foster credited Lawrence native and Baker defensive coordinator Jason Thoren for luring him to BU.
“Coach Thoren in my opinion and my family’s opinion, he recruited me and evaluated me better than any other coach,” Foster said. “He promised me I’d be a great player there. I’ve got to work my butt off to get there. I can’t just have it. I’ve got to work for everything, but I just felt a connection with him that I’ve never felt with any of the other coaches recruiting me.”
While the defense didn’t need much help, the Kansas All-Stars generated plenty of offense to seal the deal. Mill Valley product Brody Flaming threw a 14-yard touchdown strike to Goodpaster, a former Shawnee Mission Northwest standout, to give the Kansas All-Stars a 16-0 lead just over a minute into the second quarter.
In the second half, De Soto alumnus Bryce Mohl plunged in for a score on a 2-yard quarterback sneak, and Flaming heaved a 41-yard touchdown pass to Aquinas product Joseph Clune to finish off his MVP outing.
FSHS product Clark, former LHS standout Russell sidelined with injuries
Free State alumnus Gabe Clark and Lawrence High graduate Kristian Russell had hoped to do their share for the Kansas All-Stars on the offensive line, but they were forced to cheer from the sidelines after suffering injuries while practicing for the all-star game.
“For me, we were doing some team drills on offense and I just had a linebacker fall on my knee,” Russell said. “No one’s fault, but it’s just kind of what happens.”
Clark added, “For me with my knee, I planted really hard and it’s just one of those things where it gave out — nothing I could do about it. I should be fine.”
Russell and Clark both said that they should have quick recoveries. Clark is preparing to play at Central Missouri, while Russell will head to Washburn.
“It’s an honor to be nominated, and I wish I could be out there playing,” Russell said. “I wish I could be out there playing, but I’d much rather take care of myself for the future.”
Score by quarters
Missouri All-Stars 0 0 0 0 — 0
Kansas All-Stars 9 7 7 7 — 30
HOW THEY SCORED
2:22 — Gage Foster safety. (Kansas All-Stars 2, Missouri All-Stars 0.)
2:08 — Jamison Phelps 70 kick return. Jackson Likens kick good. (Kansas All-Stars 9, Missouri All-Stars 0.)
10:50 — Hayden Goodpaster 14 pass from Brody Flaming. Likens kick good. (Kansas All-Stars 16, Missouri All-Stars 0.)
4:44 — Bryce Mohl 2 run. Likens kick. (Kansas All-Stars 23, Missouri All-Stars 0.)
8:05 — Joseph Clune 41 pass from Flaming. Likens kick. (Kansas All-Stars 30, Missouri All-Stars 0.)