Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 9/23
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Staff Writer
The game was less than three minutes old Friday night and the defending state champions and owners of a 15-game winning streak were in trouble. Big trouble.
Olathe East had taken the opening kickoff and rammed the ball right down Olathe North’s throat.
A simple out pattern for one yard. No big deal. Then a toss to the left to Brandon Willingham for eight yards. OK. Then the Eagles had Willingham stopped in the backfield on a third-and-1. He bounced off and fell forward for two yards.
First down. Hmmm, maybe this is going to be a tough one for the Eagles.
Then Willingham slipped through a hole the size of a Buick and made his way down the right sideline, right in front of the North players. Finally caught and run out of bounds at the 16, he had the Hawks in business. Then a late hit out of bounds moved the ball up to the Eagles 8-yard line. One play later the Hawks were up 7-0.
With nine minutes, 49 seconds left in the first quarter the game was over. The Eagles had just been popped in the mouth and they would never recover.
In the latest installment of the best rivalry in a football-rich city, East won in convincing fashion, tearing a page from a North playbook that led them to eight state titles in 14 years. They dominated the line of scrimmage — the offensive and defensive lines. They controlled the ball. They ate up the clock by grinding it out on the ground. They just flat dominated.
Taking nothing away from the Hawks own brand of football —which has helped them win an average of eight games a year over the past seven seasons, but the Hawks won Friday night playing good old-fashioned Olathe North football.
That’s what made the 25-0 victory so impressive.
It took less than two hours for everything to change. The defending state champs had rolled to a 2-0 start and looked like they were well on their way to a run at a second straight, but East had something to say about that.
They didn’t just steal momentum. They didn’t just wrestle away control of the Sunflower League race. It was plain and simple football larceny.
It was exactly what the Hawks set out to do.
East head coach Jeff Meyers and his staff had the perfect game plan Friday night. Perfect.
“Things worked well and we executed well,” Meyers said. “We had some great success out there tonight. (North’s) and excellent team. We just rose to the occasion.”
That is what Meyers and his staffed had talked about all week. He told them they if they played to the top of the ability, they would win.”
There were moments when “win” just wasn’t a strong enough word for what the Hawks were doing.
“We were flying around on defense against one of the best rushing teams we are going to see,” Willingham said. “And our offensive line just killed it.”
Meyers agreed, saying that his defense was on the top of their game.
“The defense was just outstanding,” Meyers added. “I don’t even know who to give accolades to. It was a complete team effort.”
And suddenly, that team is the king of the mountain. The shutout win on Friday has everyone looking up at the Hawks for the first time since their undefeated run through the regular season two years ago.
And with a remaining schedule that has a combined record of 6-12, who knows what lies ahead for the Hawks in 2010.
More nights like Friday night and the rest of the state is in trouble. Big trouble.
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