SM East tops Olathe East to reach 6A semis
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
Shawnee Mission East made a living with a ball-control offense all season long.And Friday night, they made history by doing the same thing.
The Lancers advanced to the Class 6A state semifinals for the first time in school history with an impressive 20-13 win over Olathe East at the College Boulevard Activity Center.
“It’s the start of a new era,” said Shawnee Mission East senior Ryan Carter. “And we’re still hungry.”
The Lancers dictated the tempo from the start, keeping the ball away from Olathe East for all but eight seconds of the first quarter and hanging onto the ball for all but 4:34 of the entire first half, running 43 plays to Olathe East’s 11.
“That’s the same way we have been playing all year,” said Shawnee Mission East coach Dustin Delaney. “I am so proud of the team. I really like the way we played tonight.”
The Lancers led 20-7 at half, but found themselves down 7-0 early after Jalen Branson took a toss from Connor Leach on the Hawks first and only play of the first quarter and went 67 yards for the score.
The Lancers answered with an 80-yard, seven-minute drive to tie the score on a Ryan Carter 7-yard run. And it was all Shawnee Mission East for the rest of the first half. A pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Olathe East and recovered by Shawnee Mission East. Two minutes later, the Lancers were up 14-7 after Gunnar England hooked up with Mitchell Tyler form 36 yards away.
They added to that lead five minutes later on an England to Alec Dean 15-yard scoring strike.
“That’s how we have been all season,” Delaney said. “These guys don’t freak out when we get down. We settled down and the defense played great from that point.”
The Hawks managed to bounce back in the second half, when the time of possession was much more even, but the damage was done.
All they could muster was a late Brandon Trinkle 10-yard touchdown run to pull to within 20-13. A pooch kick went out of bounds and Shawnee Mission East ran out the clock from there.
“That really hurt,” Olathe East coach Jeff Meyers said about the first half. “They did a great job of controlling the ball and that definitely hurt us.
“They are a really good team.”
The Hawks had a couple of chances in the second half to draw close, but an interception by Shawnee Mission East’s Charlie White at the Lancers’ 2-yard line ended a threat with 3:46 left in the third quarter and a holding penalty brought back 35-yard completion to Trinkle down to the 5-yard line. The drive stalled out after that play was erased.
While Olathe East was trying, in vain, to battle back, Shawnee Mission East was able to play it safe and maintain its lead by holding onto the ball as long as they could in the second half. And they did it by continuing to spread the ball around.
“That’s how we do it,” Carter said. “We’re not just one player. We are a team.”
Branson led all rushers with 152 yards on 13 carries, but left the game with a knee injury early in the fourth quarter.
Carter led a group of six Lancers who had at least three carries with 85 yards on 23 carries. The Lancers ran the ball 51 times and only three of those carries went for more than 10 yards and 40 of the 51 carries went for five yards or less.
East hosts Olathe North — a 22-18 winner over Lawrence-Free State — in the Class 6A semifinals next Friday night.
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