Olathe rides Rhodes to first ever state title
AURORA — When it came down to crunch time, the Olathe High School football team danced with the one that brung ’em.
All season long, the Pirates had ridden the capable legs of David Rhodes.
Olathe tried a few different things to try to catch the Erie defense off guard in Saturday’s Class 2A state championship game at Legacy Stadium.
In the end, they went with their old standby.
Rhodes, the 5-foot-9, 213-pound senior running back, saved his best work for last.
“That’s kind of our deal,” Olathe head coach Ryan Corn said. “In pressure situations you give it to your workhorse. That’s who he is.”
Rhodes rushed for 225 yards, most of them in the second half, and had all three carries when Olathe got the ball on the 10-yard line for its overtime possession, bulling over from the 2 for the touchdown.
For much of the game, the Pirates struggled to solve Erie’s defensive mystery. For Rhodes, it was just a matter of time.
“We knew what to do,” Rhodes said.
After Erie scored on its overtime possession but missed the extra-point kick when Ryan Hawkins’ try whacked against the left upright, “I knew I was going to punch it in,” Rhodes said.
He did, setting up Sergio Salazar’s successful point-after kick for the victory.
“I knew we could do it,” Rhodes said.
Both teams, having played to a 15-15 tie midway through the fourth quarter, were running on fumes by the end of regulation.
“Conditioning played a key factor,” Corn said. “It comes down to us working them hard in practice.”
For Rhodes and the Pirates’ offensive line, that meant putting it on autopilot and doing something they’d done hundreds of times this season.
“We just had to keep it going,” Rhodes said.
Like the Energizer Bunny, they kept going and going and going.
“Our line opened up holes (in the fourth quarter and overtime),” Pirates quarterback Garhett Jurgens said.
“I think our line did an awesome job,” Rhodes said.
That just set him up to do what he does best.