|Olathe East's Hayden Frazier, center, is one of the Hawks'
three top running backs. Photo courtesy the Kansas City
Spread: Olathe East +10
Last Meeting: Olathe East won 28-21 in week five
Who to Watch For
The Vikings have found that the more Joel Spiller and Brett Sterbach carry the ball, the higher chances of success they have in winning football games. Both players have come on exceptionally strong as the season has progressed and it will take a big effort from both to pull the upset tonight. A wildcard? While Ricco Hopkins hasn't had his numbered called in too many big situations this season, he does have as good of breakaway speed as any player in the league once he gets into open field.
Playing Olathe East should come with the disclaimer "DO NOT throw the football at their cornerbacks." Their two primary corners, Junior Williams and Marcus Banks, have feasted on quarterbacks to the tune of 11 interceptions this year. On the offensive side of the ball, the Hawks will run the football until they literally no longer can. The only game we've seen Olathe East truly struggle with running the football was in their week one loss at Olathe North. Without a run game, the Hawks had to rely on an average passing game and they looked lost throughout the night. However, shutting down the Olathe East run game is easier said than done.
Since Tim Callaghan took over as head coach at SM West in 2003 this has become a sort of pseudo out-of-district rivalry. The teams have met seven times since the 2003 season, with Olathe East holding a slight 4-3 edge with wins coming in 2003, '05, '07 and this season. SM West's wins in the rivalry have come in 2004, '06 and '09.
What to Expect
Let's see, since Olathe East beat SM West 28-21 in week five, the two teams have combined to go 9-1 overall. For SM West it was that loss that sparked their current five-game winning streak. Meanwhile Olathe East has only fallen once, against Olathe South. Both teams are performing at a high level at this juncture in the season and it has the makings of a very high quality football game. Also, an important thing to keep in mind is that SM West's fanbase travels as well as any team in the Sunflower League. They will pack their side of CBAC and the homefield advantage will be limited for Olathe East.
Olathe South (9-1) at SM East (6-4)
Where: SM North District Stadium
Spread: Olathe South +1.7
Last Meeting: Olathe South won 29-21 in week four
Live Video Feed and Broadcast: SM East Harbinger
Who to Watch For
When the going gets tough Olathe South tends to focus more and more on their stable of running backs. Their primary ballcarrier is Jordan Ward, who has gone over the century mark in rushing yards this season. Fritz Wilbur, Teddy Colbert, and Russell White also carry the ball and all have shown the ability to be a top running back if their number is called on,.
SM East quarterback Dakota Collins is going to be looking to pass to his two primary wide receiver targets, Elliot Faerber and Connor Rellihan, all night. Combined, those two have over 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdown catches. They make up the most dynamic quarterback to receiver combo in the league and now that Faerber is healthy the trio has really taken off.
I find it interesting that these two teams have once again found a way to face off in the playoffs. In 2005 SM East was a major underdog against the Falcons but they actually gave Olathe South a pretty game, before coming up short 16-7. Last season SM East was the favorite over Olathe South when the teams matched up in Regionals, but Olathe South pulled a 28-24 upset. Needless to say, SM East is probably tired of bowing out in the playoffs in close games to Olathe South.
What to Expect
Olathe South has struggled at times this season against the spread offense. SM East primarily runs the spread offense. While the Falcons are still favored because of their strong rushing attack (that has seemingly befuddled every opponent this season) they certainly will have their hands full trying to shut down the Lancers. The game is being broadcast live by SM East's Harbinger staff and the video to that broadcast is linked here. It was a close game earlier in the year when these two met up and the same should be expected tonight in this game.