Power football yields big results for Olathe
The biggest insult to the Olathe football team would be to call it a finesse team.
The Pirates are all about power: Power running game, power offensive line, and what may have been overlooked in the 200-plus yard games of David Rhodes, is the power defense.
Olathe doesn’t pull any gimmicks out on the defensive side of the ball. The Pirates line up in a 3-5 and love to hit.
“We are going to play smashmouth football on both sides of the ball,” Olathe coach Ryan Corn said. “We are going to hit you first to let you know what the game is going to be like.”
That aggressive mentality has earned the Pirates a spot in the semifinals of the 2A state playoffs, hosting Faith Christian at 1 p.m. today. Olathe cruised to this round by defeating Buena Vista and Kent Denver by a combined 82-16 in the first two rounds. In the two games, the Pirates shut down two top rushers, beginning with Buena Vista’s Larson Greenfield.
Greenfield entered the game with 10 straight 150-yard rushing games including two straight 200-yard performances. The Pirates held him to 132, 70 of which came from one run.
The next week, it was Kent Denver and Tyler Jackson who rushed for 312 yards and five touchdowns in the Sun Devils’ opening round game against Eaton. Jackson’s output against Olathe was a meager 53
yards on 14 carries.
“Our defense has been our bread and butter the past three years and Coach (Ben) Johnson is our defensive coordinator and does a great job,” Corn said. “The kids fly around and do their job.”
Doing their job has equaled 12 straight wins for the Pirates, who held opponents to an average of 10 points per game. Corn said it’s the front eight that have really allowed Olathe to be successful, beginning with five solid linebackers comprised of Chris Brummitt, Camren Harris, Kyle Piatt, Dylan Markley and Curtis McCormick.
“Those guys have speed, so they can fly around and make tackles,” Corn said. “But they can do that because the front three all demand double teams.”
As dominate as the linebacking corps has been this season, a lot of their success has been set up by the play of defensive ends JD Jimenez and Rhodes, as well as nose tackle Marvin Rivera.
“Rivera really isn’t your typical nose guard at 175 pounds,” Corn said. “But he is so quick he demands a double team, or he is in the backfield making plays.”
What completes the defense is a secondary of Garhett Jurgens, Zach Stansberry and Andrew Rivera, who keep teams from making the big play in the passing game once the Pirates get a lead.
“These kids really like to hit,” Corn said. “It is hard to try and teach a kid to like hitting, but this group really enjoys it.”
That love of contact is going to be important this week against a Faith Christian team Corn said is one of the few teams they will face that will be as big if not bigger.
The Eagles earned the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, and have been as controlling as Olathe. Faith Christian outscored its opponents an average of 39-8 and allowed more than 20 points only once, last week against Brush (36-22).
Leading the way for the Eagles are quarterback Micah Twedell and running back Craig Schultz.
“They run the ball really well and have good execution,” Corn said. “They are good sized and will run it to set up the pass.”
Although the two teams might be well-matched on the field, the area that the Eagles have a big advantage is tradition. Faith Christian has won two 2A state titles since 2004 (2004, 2006).
“Faith has more in that position, but we are still preaching the same thing since week one to our kids,” Corn said. “We are taking it one game at a time and really could care less about the other side of the bracket.”
But Olathe has one thing the Eagles don’t — homefield advantage. The Pirates are looking to create a hostile environment for the Eagles.
“The environment will be fun,” Corn said. “The community has been very supportive and will have a very large crowd on both sides.”