Olathe East stays grounded in big win
By David Svoboda PrepsKC staff writer
In as impressive a playoff performance as may be seen all year, Olathe East routed Shawnee Mission West by a 46-16 count Friday night, rushing for 526 yards in the process.
East, now 9-2 overall, got 152 yards on the ground from senior tailback Kendall Kelly and another 132 from fellow senior John Kelsh in rolling over the Vikings, who ended their season at 7-4.
And unlike the first meeting between the two schools in late September – a 28-21 win by Coach Jeff Meyers’ Hawks – this one was really never in doubt.
“We ran the ball well,” Meyers said in what may have been the understatement of the year. “We want to be a ball control offense, so that’s big.”
Speaking of big, Meyers said his team’s success in the run game started up front.
“They (the OE offensive linemen) were attacking and getting into their men,” Meyers recounted. “That gave the backs room to pick and choose.”
“Our linemen really got off the ball quick,” he said. “When they’re opening holes and getting into people, the backs have a chance for success.”
Virtually every back that touched the ball for East was, indeed, successful. The Hawks had a remarkable 10 rushes for 20 yards or more, including bests of 45 and 51 yards. And Hayden Frazier and Ryan Woodson had 75 and 74 yards, respectively, to add to the efforts of Kelly and Kelsh.
“’It’s really been that way all year,” Kelly said of the success of multiple backs in the East offense. “We all do different things well.”
There were few times all year, prior to Friday night that the Hawks did them this well.
It was 34-10 at the half, and it could have been worse.
Olathe East gouged the Vikings on the ground for 353 yards throughout the first 24 minutes, and the scoreboard reflected the Hawks’ dominance.
East scored first on a 51-yard run off of a reverse by Junior Williams just 1:06 into the game. That capped a three –play, 80-yard drive that had begun and ended before some fans had even settled into their seats. The PAT kick was missed, and the Eagles had an early 6-0 edge.
West then responded with a methodical scoring drive of its own – possibly its only impressive drive of the night – to cut the lead in half.
The Viking drive of 13 plays over 7:38 of the first quarter culminated when Mark Whitrock banged home a 31-yard field goal to make it 6-3. With as easily as East scored in its opening drive, having to settle for three rather than six had to be somewhat deflating for West.
And Olathe East immediately responded, going on a nine-play, 80 yard drive over the next 3:13 before quarterback John Blazevic ran it in from one-yard out on the first play of the second quarter to give his team a 13-3 lead – and himself a nice 17th birthday gift.
The teams then traded ineffective possessions back and forth over the next several minutes, before Kez Demby of West intercepted Blazevic and took the ball back to the East eight to put the Vikes in business.
On the first play from scrimmage, Brett Sterbach rumbled in and it looked like a contest after all at 13-10 with just 5:03 remaining before the half.
But that changed rather quickly on the next three East possessions, which were sandwiched around a three-and-out and a fumble by West.
The three touchdowns came on a 45-yard burst by Kelly, a 22-yard run by Kelsh, and a three-yard run with a fumble by lineman Matt Gorby – which came after Kelsh had gained the first eight yards of the play before coughing up the football.
The second half was tame in comparison – on the scoreboard, anyway – as a three-yard TD run by Kelly and a one-yard effort by Frazier were the final Olathe East TDs, while Sterbach’s three-yard run with just over three minutes remaining was the lone SMW score of the half.
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