Pirates rally to win title in WSC
ASPEN — So much for a slow start for Olathe High School’s football team Friday night. And so much for a slow start to the Pirates’ season.
Starting the game much like it started the 2011 campaign, Olathe found a way to overcome adversity. The Pirates overcame an early two-touchdown deficit against Aspen, much like it overcame two losses in its first three games of the season, with six straight touchdowns to prevail 40-21 and win its fourth consecutive Class 2A Western Slope Conference title.
“We got off to that same kind of start last year,” Olathe coach Ryan Corn said, referring to the Pirates’ state-championship season.
“The (losses) against Florence and Rifle, we weren’t playing really good, precise ball. We’ve always felt we have an underdog persona, because we always felt like we need to be playing our best ball at the end of the season.”
That seems to be the case this season for the Pirates (6-3, 5-1 WSC), who are guaranteed a first-round home game when the playoffs begin the weekend of Nov. 11.
It also came thanks to a huge performance from senior running back Cole Grett, who ran for 213 yards on 28 carries.
“We had our doubts at first,” said Grett, who had 177 yards rushing by halftime. “We just wanted to come out and prove to the league that even with one loss in league (22-21 in double overtime to Roaring Fork) that we weren’t going to quit. We wanted it. We wanted it as bad as Aspen, and I know that Aspen wanted it as bad as us.”
It sure seemed that way at the start, especially after the Skiers (6-3, 4-2) took a two-touchdown lead in the game’s first nine minutes. Olathe finished with a 379-146 advantage in total offense, however, limiting Aspen to only 71 yards in the first half.
“Once we got up two touchdowns, maybe we were a little overconfident and too excited,” said Aspen wide receiver Quinn Morehead, who had six catches for 83 yards and picked off a pair of passes by Olathe quarterback Ben Kaylor.
“We couldn’t calm down. We started doing the wrong things and let it go.”
The Skiers got on the board first, capping a 12-play, 51-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge by Hornburg to go up 7-0 after Erik Wehse’s extra-point kick.
On Olathe’s next possession, Morehead picked a wobbly pass from Kaylor and weaved his way 50 yards into the end zone for a 14-0 Aspen advantage.
That’s when Grett took over, reeling off runs of 13, 28 and 7 yards on consecutive plays to set up Kaylor’s 4-yard TD run to pull the Pirates within a touchdown.
Then Taylor Carlson, four plays after he had a touchdown reception batted away at the last second, picked off a pass from Tucker Beirne at the Olathe 48.
Grett broke free to the end zone from 52 yards out on the next play for the Pirates, who recovered the ensuing onside kick and took a 20-14 halftime lead on Kaylor’s 6-yard TD pass to Willy Corey with 44 seconds left in the first half.
The Pirates went up 26-14 on a 67-yard jaunt from Ronnie Mumm.
On Aspen’s next offensive play, Mumm picked off a Bierne pass and returned it to Aspen’s 6 to set up Willy Cory’s TD run on the next play.
And Carlson added a pick of his own on the Skiers’ next play, returning it 15 yards to the Aspen 5 before Cory found the end zone from two yards.
“We weren’t about to get down on ourselves when we got down big early like that,” Grett said. “We just wanted to stay positive and keep looking ahead.”
Battle Mountain 61, Steamboat Springs 22: Reeve Sanders scored on runs of 76, 32, 55 and 15 yards to lead Battle Mountain (8-1, 5-1 Class 3A WSC), which led 46-15 at halftime. The Huskies clinched at least second place in the conference.