Physical Pirates advance to semis
CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE — The Olathe High School football team doesn’t mind playing the role of the bully.
Knowing they were much bigger than their opponents from Kent Denver in Saturday’s Class 2A quarterfinal game at Justin DeSorrento Memorial Field, the Pirates were more than happy to use that advantage to full effect.
Olathe controlled the line of scrimmage against the smaller Sun Devils, rolling to a 27-6 victory. The Pirates (12-0) advance to this Saturday’s semifinals, hosting Faith Christian. Kent Denver finished the season 10-2.
“We knew we had to come in here and be physical — we’re that kind of team,” Olathe senior David Rhodes said. “We run hard and wear them down at the end of the game.”
Rhodes was the benefit of the Pirates’ offensive line up front, as on most carries he was well past the line of scrimmage before he had to deal with a Sun Devils defender. The Olathe line of Andrew Stecker (285 pounds), Tyler Hawk (255), Eduardo Ramirez (232), Colby Corey (231) and Seb Wollert (220) dwarfed the Kent Denver defensive front, which didn’t have anyone over 215 pounds.
That allowed Rhodes to build up a full head of steam as he broke into the defensive backfield, and he pinballed his way to 159 yards and three touchdowns rushing on 27 carries.
“My offensive line does an awesome job and that’s all I can ask for,” Rhodes said.
The Pirates’ defensive line was equally as dominant, especially in the first half. Olathe sacked Sun Devils quarterback Richard Yates the first four times he dropped back to pass, and held Kent Denver to 21 yards of offense in the first half.
“The truth is they were bigger than us and that was a tough thing to overcome,” Sun Devils coach Scott Yates said. “We’re not a big team, but we have kids that are smart and scrappy and play their little butts off.”
The Pirates were methodical in building a 20-0 halftime lead. Kyle Piatt returned the opening kick 71 yards down to the 2-yard line, and Rhodes powered in from 1-yard out a short time later to start the scoring.
Olathe’s next drive would end with a punt, but the Pirates scored the next two times they had the ball with Rhodes carrying it in from 6 and 4 yards to open a 20-0 lead with five minutes, 58 seconds left in the first half.
Kent Denver finally broke through on the third play of the fourth quarter, getting a
10-yard touchdown run from Tyler Jackson to cut the lead to 20-6 with 10:37 remaining.
But Olathe responded with a back-breaking 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive that took nearly 7 minutes off the clock. Quarterback Garhett Jurgens, who was an efficient 4 of 5 for 113 yards through the air, punched it in from 1 yard out to push the lead to 27-6 with 3:40 left to play.
“Any time you can put the ball on the ground and eat up the clock, it’s huge,” Olathe coach Ryan Corn said. “You look at successful teams around here like Columbine, they’ve made their money off of that for years and years.”