Pirates no joke: Loosening up has helped Olathe reach second state title game in three years

Olathe’s swarming defense will have to be on its toes Saturday in the Class 2A state title game against Brush at Legacy Stadium. The Beetdiggers are the state’s leader in rushing. A change in attitude - having more fun - spurred a 10-game winning streak for the Pirates.


Olathe vs. Brush

Class 2A State Championship Saturday,  11 a.m., Legacy Stadium, Aurora

RADIO: 580-AM (KUBC), Montrose

RECORDS: Olathe 11-2; Brush 11-2

LAST WEEK: Olathe defeated Florence 24-20; Brush defeated Kent Denver 29-25.

GAME NOTES: Olathe is making its second appearance in the Class 2A state championship game in three years. The Pirates have made the playoffs five consecutive seasons. Brush is making its ninth consecutive appearance in the state playoffs, but the Beetdiggers are playing for their first state championship since 1994, when they beat St. Mary’s 20-9 for the 2A title. Brush defeated Olathe 43-13 in the first round of the 2006 state playoffs.

Olathe and Brush have played only one common opponent this year, Faith Christian. The Pirates rallied to defeat Faith 14-11 in the quarterfinals two weeks ago. Brush defeated the Eagles 28-7 in the second week of the season.

Brush boasts the top running game in the state with Connor Weisser and Skyler Seewald, both of whom have rushed for more than 1,100 yards. The Beetdiggers have rushed for 4,456 yards (342.77 per game) this season.

Olathe has a pretty good running game as well. Kyle Piatt has rushed for 1,315 yards (109.6 per game) and 18 touchdowns. Olathe quarterback Keifer Wollert sprained his left knee in the semifinal victory over Florence, but is ready to go. Coach Ryan Corn said Wollert practiced this week and did fine.

To be successful in football, the coach and the players had to be serious and focused, or so Ryan Corn thought.

This year, though, Corn found that doesn’t always work.

Olathe stumbled early, losing two of its first three games.

“It was pretty rough,” Olathe senior Kyle Piatt said. “It didn’t seem like we wanted to be there. The seniors called a team meeting about getting attitude up at team practice.”

Corn and the coaching staff weren’t invited and never heard the discussion, but soon realized they needed to take a different approach with this group.

“I grew up in that, you have to be serious and focused on the football field,” Corn said. “That’s one thing we did early on. We were in that mode. After the Rifle game, we had to step back. We were not having fun. As a coach, I had to loosen up.”

It seemed to work. The Pirates have won 10 straight games and played their way into the Class 2A state championship game at 11 a.m. on Saturday against Brush at Legacy Stadium in Aurora.

“More than anything, you have to adjust to the type of characters on the team. With this group, it’s different,” Corn said.

“Against Faith Christian, at halftime, instead of ripping them, I had to tell them a joke to loosen them up. If I was serious, they would’ve got down on themselves.”

Corn also changed the offense after the slow start, ditching the power I for the triple option and adding the pistol spread.

“Coach went from our ‘I’ and put the Falcon in,” Piatt said. “We do better in it. We understand it better.”

Since the offensive switch, Olathe (11-2) has averaged 32.6 points a game.

“Olathe is a good team,” Brush coach Randy Dreitz said. “They have a good back in Kyle Piatt. You’ve got to gang-tackle him to bring him down. He’s a very good runner. Their quarterback can run and throw. That’s a weapon we need to take care of. We’ll have our hands full stopping their offense.”

The Pirates play a Brush team that is allowing 16.1 points a game and shut out four opponents this season.

“Our offense comes down to execution,” Corn said. “We run the triple option. I think they’ve seen it once. They have to prepare for that. As a defensive coach, you spend a lot of the week preparing for that.

“We can spread it out and have good matchups against their defense. I feel we can be successful.”

Brush (11-2) has a pretty good offense, as well.

In fact, the Beetdiggers led the state, regardless of classification, in rushing yards with 4,456 (342.77 per game). They have two backs with more than 1,100 yards, Skyler Seward and Connor Weisser.

“Our offensive line has done a great job,” Dreitz said. “We have great backs running the ball and can make people miss. The nice thing is we have more than one featured back. We have four that run the ball and they all run well. It’s a lot of fun to have that situation.”

Brush quarterback Eric Garcia has proven he can throw the ball, completing 36 of 81 passes for 749 yards, but the Pirates will have to stop the run in key situations to win their second state title in three years.

“Brush is a very good running team,” Corn said. “They probably run it 92 percent of the time. I think they threw it four times in each game we saw on tape. They’ll have a fourth and four on their own 40 and run it.

“They have a lot of confidence in their line and what they do. They run eight, nine or 10 plays all game and do it very well.”


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