Running game lifts Olathe past Cards
PARACHUTE — Olathe has made its mark this season by running the ball right at teams until they can stop it.
So far this season, nobody has.
Friday night was no exception as the Pirates (10-0, 7-0 2A Western Slope Conference) ran the ball 62 times for nearly 350 yards on their way to a 36-14 win over Grand Valley (8-2, 6-1 WSC).
“We have good running backs and a line that will push you around,” Olathe coach Ryan Corn said. “The one thing about our team is we might not start out right away, but we will wear teams down.”
The main cog wearing teams down is running back David Rhodes. The 5-foot-9, 213-pound senior is big enough to take a pounding and keep going.
Rhodes had 260 yards on 38 carries against the Cardinals, running through holes opened up by his line of Andrew Steckel, Tyler Hawk, Eduardo Ramirez, Seb Wollert and Colby Corey.
“Our offensive line is awesome,” Rhodes said. “We seem to wear teams down in the second half because our line is so big.”
Although Rhodes ended up being the main reason for the Pirate’ win, a fumble on his first carry nearly cost Olathe early. Grand Valley recovered Rhodes’ fumble and was able to drive the ball inside the Pirates 10-yard line but a fumble of their own gave the ball back to the Pirates.
After trading punts, the Pirates scored first when quarterback Garhett Jurgens took the ball around the end on a 10-yard touchdown run.
Jurgens scored on the Pirates’ next drive with 1:32 left, giving Olathe a 15-0 lead.
After the kickoff, Grand Valley got on the board as with quarterback Ryan Gallegos connecting with William Waugh on an 80-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 15-6 at halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Rhodes made the most of a short field set up by a Dylan Markley 34-yard punt return by scoring on a 6-yard run.
Grand Valley’s special teams came up big on the ensuing kickoff with Eric Glaze returning the kickoff 75 yards, cutting the Pirates’ lead to 22-14.
The Cardinals defense held strong on Olathe’s next drive but the Cardinals went three-and-out.
Olathe responded with a 56-yard drive that took up nearly four minutes off the clock as Rhodes ran it in from 4 yards.
“Our defense played real well tonight,” Rhodes said. “We were able to hold them and get our defense off the field and our offense back on.”
Rhodes added the Pirates final score on a 20-yard touchdown run.
“Rhodes is a tough character,” Corn said. “He is a back that will go out and hit you and he is tough to stop.”
The win clinches the 2A Western Slope Conference championship for Olathe and will most likely give the
Pirates one of the top seeds in the playoffs.
“The conference title is huge, but the next step is playoffs,” Corn said. “We are happy with how we did, but we are ready to start the playoffs.”
The Class 4A, 3A and 2A schools wrapped up the regular season Friday.
Montrose defeated Durango 42-8 to finish undefeated in the Southwestern Conference. The top-ranked team in Class 3A, Glenwood Springs, capped an undefeated run through the Western Slope Conference
with a 47-0 victory over Steamboat Springs.
In other games, Delta defeated Battle Mountain 52-21, Basalt defeated Gunnison 7-3 and Coal Ridge defeated Aspen 60-14.