Fair Grove downs Strafford to secure back-to-back Mid-Lakes titles

By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Strafford, Mo. — Fair Grove’s hot streak continued Friday night, as the undefeated Eagles rolled over arch-rival Strafford 27-8.

Fair Grove quarterback David Oplotnik accounted for three touchdown runs and running back Hale Beckley rushed for another.

In a sloppy game featuring 13 total penalties and six turnovers from both squads, Fair Grove’s defense was anything but hospitable throughout the contest.

Strafford wasn’t able to cross midfield in the first half.

While the Indians were finally able to make a pair of trips into Fair Grove territory in the third, both resulted in turnovers on downs.

The Eagles held Strafford to 217 yards on the evening — 131 passing and 86 rushing — with 84 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter, alone.

Fair Grove defensive end Darin Oplotnik helped set the tone for the Eagles defense, describing the

“You know, our defense, we instill fear in teams, and we just fly around at all times,” the senior all-state selection said. “We create chaos, and that’s our motto. We really executed tonight and did really well with that.”

Midway through the final period, Strafford was finally able to cash in on a 10-play, 75-yard drive when quarterback Mason Foley found Clay Lawson for the touchdown.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE GAME

The Indians got the ball back with just under five minutes remaining; however, a costly interception gave Fair Grove the ball at the Strafford 39.

Four plays later, Beckley rumbled around the right end for a 13-yard score to seal the victory.

Fair Grove head coach Bill Voorhis offered high praise for his defense led by coordinator Ryan Buffington.

“Our defense battles,” Voorhis said. “Everything that anybody gets on our defense is earned. I think it was big for our guys to go back and just kind of calm their own nerves, get the ball back and get some mojo going on our side of the ball.”

Garrett Cross led the Fair Grove ground attack, rushing for 144 yards on 11 carries, including a 50-yard scamper to set up the Eagles’ first score. The Eagles rushed for 274 yards on the evening and passed for another 105.

The victory also secured the second Mid-Lakes Conference title in a row for the 6-0 Eagles.

With 11 seniors on the roster, Voorhis was quick to point out the impact those players have had on the team and its culture.

“I’m happy and proud for our seniors,” Voorhis said. “Those kids have been grinding — that’s three out of four years and back-to-back for our seniors. It’s something that hasn’t happened in a long time. It’s been on their list, and they’ve been ready for this game for a long time.”

While Strafford was able to keep the game close for most of the game, the Indians were never quite able to execute the big play and seize the necessary momentum to pull off the upset.

After the game, Indians head coach Tim Hester discussed the friendly rivalry and how enjoyable it is to watch the kids compete against one another.

“Our kids fought the whole time,” Hester said. “We just couldn’t get it going on offense. Their defense is just all over the place, and their front line is really good. We knew we were the underdogs when we came in here, but it’s always been a close game. It’s Fair Grove, and it’s Strafford, so anything can happen.”

Fair Grove (6-0) welcomes Butler next week, while Strafford (3-3) plays host to Skyline.

Varsity Final: Fair Grove – 27, Strafford – 8

Fair Grove 7 7 7 6 — 27
Strafford 0 0 0 8 — 8

First quarter scoring
Fair Grove – David Oplotnik 2-yard TD rush 0-7
(David Oplotnik kick)

Second quarter scoring
Fair Grove – David Oplotnik 1-yard TD rush 0-14
(David Oplotnik kick)

Third quarter scoring
Fair Grove – David Oplotnik 5-yard TD rush 0-21
(David Oplotnik kick)

Fourth quarter scoring
Strafford – Vance Mullins 4-yard TD rec from Mason Foley 8-21
(Ian Bareis 2-point conversion reception)

Fair Grove – Hale Beckley 13-yard TD rush 8-27
(2-point conversion failed)