Perennial power: Olathe Pirates used to being contenders in Class 2A football
The Olathe High School football team is nowhere close to being considered an underdog in Class 2A football.
Olathe has been one of the premier programs in its classification since winning the 2008 state championship. The Pirates are 33-3 the past three seasons and a perfect 21-0 in the Western Slope Conference during that time.
The No. 4 Pirates are out to further establish themselves as a 2A contender at 1 p.m. on Saturday when they host No. 14 Bennett (8-2) in the first round of the state playoffs.
“Any time you are looking at playoff football you have to get them to believe it’s one game at a time,” Olathe coach Ryan Corn said. “And this year 2A is interesting because any of the 16 teams can win it all.”
This season didn’t begin the way anyone associated with the Pirates thought it would.
Olathe (8-2) won its first game over Steamboat Springs before losing back-to-back games to Florence (the top-seeded team in 2A) and Class 3A Rifle. The Pirates allowed 35 and 34 points in the two losses.
The Pirates entered the WSC conference schedule 1-2.
“It was something where the kids needed to find their inner strength,” Corn said. “They started to buy into the system.”
Olathe rolled once it got into conference play.
The Pirates outscored their opponents 246-48. Part of the defensive improvement came about by making some personnel changes, including moving Cody Harrison from linebacker to defensive line.
“We weren’t happy with how our d-line was playing,” Corn said. “We moved (Cody) there and he’s done well just by being an athletic kid.”
Offensively, the Pirates have been a much more balanced group compared to the past couple of seasons. Senior quarterback Keifer Wollert gives the Pirates an efficient passing attack to add to an always-tough running game.
Wollert had a three-touchdown performance in a 43-0 win over Coal Ridge.
“Our passing game has been improved,” Corn said. “It makes us stronger offensively, and we have to have that balance to be the type of team we want to be.”
The Pirates entered the postseason undefeated the previous two years, but were knocked out in the second round last season.
The Pirates committed six turnovers in a 34-31 loss to Kent Denver.
“It really comes down to who makes the least amount of mistakes,” Corn said. “We should have won against Kent Denver but we had the turnovers.”
Experience has the Pirates prepared to make another run toward a state championship.
Olathe’s first step is getting past Bennett, which Corn said will be larger than the Pirates.
Bennett is led by running back Jesse Stemo, who has 1,172 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns.
The Tigers won their first seven games before dropping back-to-back games to Platte Canyon and Kent Denver.
“We have to come out and play good ball,” Corn said. “We have to beat them to the point of attack and be aggressive.”