O'Hara tops rival St. Pius X
By Kyle Palmer PrepsKC staff writer
O’Hara got some luck of the Irish to start the game Friday at rival St. Pius X. But after an unconventional (and unplanned) opening onside kick, the Celtics didn’t need much more luck.
In the end, a balanced and relentless offensive attack propelled O’Hara to a convincing 38-3 road victory over their West Central Conference rival. Celtics’ wingbacks Peyton Jones and Austin Evans combined for over 220 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground.
The dynamic duo also combined for nearly 130 yards receiving and two more scores through the air.
“We have a lot of weapons. Teams don’t know who to follow sometimes,” said Jones.
“It was a great feeling, getting the Crystal Cup as a senior,” said Evans.
That’s the trophy awarded to the winner of this annual rivalry game. The Celtics may have gotten a sense right at the opening kickoff that the coveted prize would be theirs this year.
O’Hara kicker Brock Hughes slammed a line drive kick into the back of one of the Pius up-men. The Celtics swarmed to the ball and recovered.
“That’s not what we were trying for. We wanted him to kick it hard in the middle, and their player happened to get in the way, and we responded,” said O’Hara coach Jim DeMarea.
That’s an understatement. Two plays after that fortuitous kickoff, Evans took a counter pitch and sprinted around right end untouched for a 51-yard touchdown. Before many of the Pius fans had settled into their seats, it was 6-0.
“We came into this game knowing we needed to do a lot better. This week, the O-line went after it and gave it all they had. They got down field, finished blocks,” Evans, a senior, said.
Later in the second quarter, the Celtics took advantage of a Pius miscue. Junior Ryan Vutich fumbled inside his own 20 and O’Hara got the ball in good field position.
Moments later, Jones tumbled in from 3 yards out. A two-point conversion made it 14-0. It was a thrilling moment for the junior Jones, considering he’d missed most of practice this week with a sore ankle suffered in last week’s loss to Sedalia Smith-Cotton.
“It kind of hurt not practicing but I got back into rhythm on Thursday. And I started feeling it on the bus coming up here,” Jones said.
O’Hara began to lay it on right before the half. Quarterback Matthew Johnson rolled right with just over a minute until the break and found Evans open in the flat. The nimble senior did the rest, weaving through tacklers for a stunning 67-yard score that made it 20-0.
“We’ll be working on tackling this week,” said Pius coach Rick Byers. “That’s what happens when you have only seven seniors and you play a lot of sophomores. Not that there is any excuse to not tackle. We made contact with them at the line of scrimmage most every play tonight but could not finish our tackles.”
After Pius’s Tommy Hoambrecker kicked a 35-yard field goal right before the half, the Celtics in the third quarter picked up where they had left off in the first half.
O’Hara took the second half kickoff and marched 60 yards on eight plays in just about three minutes. The big play was Jones’s 34-yard touchdown run on a pitch around the left side, that made it 26-3.
Celtics’ coach DeMarea credited his offensive line for his wingbacks’ success.
“The offensive line guys average 180 (pounds) and they can get pushed around. But they played well against a big Pius front. I really liked seeing that tonight.”
Jones caught a 23-yard touchdown from Johnson later in the third. And senior Gabe Kimbrough grabbed another 7-yard score. Johnson finished a quietly effective and efficient night at quarterback, 6-for-11 for 143 yards and three touchdowns.
For the home team, coming off their first win of the season last week at Warrensburg, this game was a lesson in humility.
“It’s homecoming and it’s the rival. We don’t want it to happen again,” Byers said, solemnly after the game. “Sometimes, when they’re young they don’t know the rivalry. I just wanted them to sit there and take in the cheers of the other team after the game. Hopefully that will motivate them into the weight room and in practice next week.”
Pius travels to a tough Smith-Cotton team next week. O’Hara hosts a physical Center squad.
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