Olathe tops Faith Christian to advance to Class 2A football semifinals

ARVADA — Two years ago, en route to the first state football championship in school history, Olathe High School held off Faith Christian Academy in the Class 2A state semifinals.

One week later, the Pirates topped Erie to win the state title.

Now Olathe is hoping history will repeat itself.

Thanks to a defense that forced four turnovers and an offense that came to life in the second half, the Pirates rallied for a 14-11 victory over Faith Christian on Saturday in the quarterfinals and sent the defending state champions packing.

“We just needed to calm down. We were taking this game way too seriously, and our team doesn’t do that very well,” said Pirates senior running back Kyle Piatt, who rushed for 91 yards and one touchdown.

“We have to joke around and have fun with it, and that’s what we started doing.”

Olathe (9-2) advanced to the 2A state semifinals for the second time in three years. Olathe will host undefeated Florence, which defeated the Pirates on Sept. 10, this weekend. The title game will be played Dec. 4 at Legacy Stadium in Aurora, where the Pirates found state glory in 2008.

“There’s only one guy that played on that team,” Olathe coach Ryan Corn said. “This is a totally new team and they’re enjoying it right now.”

Faith Christian (8-3) owned the first half but repeatedly shot itself in the foot in the red zone. A 13-play drive on the team’s first possession eventually reached Olathe’s 2-yard line, but quarterback Alex Buchmann fumbled and Carston Byers recovered.

Faith scored a safety after a fumbled option play was recovered in the end zone by Olathe’s Willy Corey, but on the Eagles’ ensuing drive, a fumbled handoff at the Pirates 5 found its way into the hands of Corey.

“Just too many turnovers in the red zone,” Faith Christian coach Blair Hubbard said. “We’ve got to capitalize on those opportunities that we have in the red zone, and obviously we didn’t today.”

Evan Marshall returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown before halftime to make it 8-0, and Eagles kicker Dylan Phillips hit a 31-yard field goal with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter to extend the lead to 11-0.

Olathe’s offense, which managed only 29 yards in the first half, finally started clicking, marching 95 yards on only four plays.

Piatt broke through the line and rumbled for a 43-yard touchdown, and after the Eagles went three-and-out, quarterback Keifer Wollert hit Taylor Carlson on a screen pass to the right. Carlson took the ball 37 yards for the go-ahead score, and Piatt ran in the two-point conversion.

Phillips missed a 34-yard field goal that would have tied the game, but Piatt was stopped on a fourth-and-inches play at his own 29 as Corn tried to “put the nail in the coffin.”

The Eagles got the ball back with 3:29 remaining and moved to the Olathe 15, but a pass that glanced off the fingers of Evan Marshall was caught by Olathe’s Zach Cosper for the interception.

Corey broke off a 12-yard run for a first down to seal the victory.

“We got hit by turnovers last year and we understand how it changes the landscape of the game,” Corn said. “We felt that in this game, once we got ahead of that defensively, the turnovers were going to be the big margin.”

Seventh-seeded Aspen pushed No. 2 Kent Denver into overtime, but lost 21-14 at home.

The Skiers finished the season 9-3.

Kent Denver plays Brush in the semifinals.

In the Class 1A 8-man semifinals, Norwood lost to Caliche 41-0. Caliche plays Hoehne, a 48-20 over Merino, in Saturday’s title game.

Idalia won the 6-man championship with a 70-36 win over Fleming.


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