Olathe East outlasts SM West

By Mike Lavieri PrepsKC columnist
Posted: October 6, 2018 - 2:11 AM

Shawnee Mission West did everything to play spoiler in the second half on Thursday night to Olathe East – the Vikings started their comeback a quarter too late as the Hawks hung on 28-23.

Behind two touchdowns from Ma’rrell Fountain, Olathe East cruised out to a 28-0 lead at halftime. The defense was stingy through the first 24 minutes as the Hawks didn’t allow Shawnee Mission West to gain a single first down or cross midfield.

Olathe East coach Jesse Owen said his team was executing and playing hard, which attributed to the four-touchdown lead.

“We sustained blocked, we had a couple good throws and catches,” Owen said.

One of those passes quarterback Hunter Thomas threw was a 50-yard strike to Kameron Byers to give Olathe East a 13-0 lead. Thomas threw for three scores on the night, connecting with Fountain for a five-yard score and Ray Lewis for 27 yards. Lewis has a 30-yard touchdown reception taken back after the officials called a lineman ineligible down field. Things changed in the second half as Olathe East unraveled a bit and committed a few personal fouls that extended drives or put Shawnee Mission West into striking distance.

“Our guys started getting rattled a bit and we started missing tackles, we started missing blocks – the exact opposite of what took place in the first half,” Owen said.

The Vikings came out of the locker room in the third quarter and went 80 yards on nine plays, capping off the drive with a CJ Callaghan to Wesley Clark touchdown – the first of two 22-yard touchdowns on the night between the two.

Shawnee Mission West coach Tim Callaghan said everything his team did in the first half was fixable such as turning defensive players loose.

“We’re pretty down – the kids have had a tough year and it seems like things mount on top of them, but I told them they have to have a little more pride in themselves and they did,” Callaghan said.

While the Vikings are sitting at 0-6, they can look at the first half against Free State – going into the locker room tied 7-7 and remain the only team to score on the Firebirds this season – and the second half of tonight as positives to build upon.

On the flip side, Olathe East sits at 2-4 and Owen said grinding out the win should give his team confidence. He’s proud of his players for finding a way to win even when it started to slip away. He credits his team finding the composure at the end of the game to make a few more plays than the Vikings.

“Sustaining that mental toughness, which is focus in this sport,” Owen said. “It’s easier said than done and that’s the mountain we’re climbing.”

Facing a 4thand 1 from the Vikings 44, Thomas tried to bait Shawnee Mission West into jumping offside, but it didn’t budge and the Hawks called a timeout. Instead of punting, Fountain plunged ahead for a first down to extend the drive with less than three minutes remaining. The Hawks were looking to run clock as the Vikings had one timeout remaining.

Seven plays later and the clock ticking close to 10 seconds left seconds, the Hawks were faced with a 4thand 4. Instead of running it up the middle trying to earn a first down, Thomas took the snap and ran backwards trying to run out the clock.

“He’s a very wily, savvy guy,” Owen said. “He got varsity experience as a sophomore, so he’s been through some battles. He’s a seasoned quarterback and we’re in good hands.”