FAIR GROVE, Mo–19 Ozark area high school football teams stepped onto the gridiron Friday night fighting to keep their state championship hopes alive.
It’s district championship night, and kolr ten’s matt vereen was in fair grove where the eagles were hoping to soar into sectionals.
Fair Grove has been waiting a long time for this night.
After four straight years of traveling for the district title, the undefeated Eagles finally got to host one right here in their own backyard.
But waiting on the other side was a Lamar team Fair Grove is all too used to meeting in these championship games.”
Fair Grove hoping to start a new trend tonight, they’ve lost four straight district titles – two of those shutout defeats against these Lamar Tigers.
And those Tigers set the tone on drive number one. Cade Griffith takes this handoff 25-yards. Lamar would turn that into a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
But two and three years ago, Lamar shut out Fair Grove. Not tonight.
3rd down, David Oplotnik scrambling and launching toward Dominick Hoskins who hauls it in at the four yard line! Eagles would punch that in. Game tied 7-7.
Next two drives end in punts, but Lamar drive number three – Tigers go reverse and JD Bishop loses a tackler, hits the corner and he’s gone. 47 yards to the house, Lamar back in front 14-7.
Fair Grove trying to respond. 4th and 4 from the Lamar 30z Oplotnik again finds a receiver, this time it’s Cole Gilpin with the fourth down touchdown from 30 yards. XP blocked though, it’s 14-13 Lamar at halftime.
Fair Grove keeps momentum into the 3rd. 2nd half opening drive, Oplotnik hits Hoskins again, this time for six. Eagles up for the first time, 19-14.
Then they force a punt, but momentum shifts suddenly. A muffed return sets up Lamar to retake the lead, 22-19.
Following drive, Oplotnik trying to make something happen. But he’s picked off instead by Austin Wilkerson.
Tigers with momentum, they turn to Bishop who punches it in as Lamar survives Fair Grove and takes home the district title.
JD Bishop: “it’s really special. In years past, I didn’t really think too much about it. But coming in this year, being a senior, knowing this could Ben be last night playing football. It meant everything.”
Scott Bailey: “They love each other. They love their coaches. They have things that they do and sports they play they love but they play football because they love their teammates.”
So unlike two and three years ago, this game was by no means a runaway shutout victory.
But even with a change of venue, the result stays the same.
The Lamar Tigers are district champions once again and advance to sectionals.
From Fair Grove High School, Matt Vereen – Ozarks First.