Thursday, November 24, 2011

Olathe South vs. Wichita Heights - State Championship Preview

Olathe South (11-1) vs. Wichita Heights (12-0)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: Yager Stadium at Washburn University, Topeka
Spread: Wichita Heights +30.7

What's at Stake
With a win, Wichita Heights will collect their second consecutive 6A state championship, in addition to keeping their current 25-game winning streak alive.  For Olathe South, the program would finally claim a state title after losing in their past three state championship appearances.  A win by Olathe South would also mark the first time since 1995 that a Sunflower League team besides Olathe North won a state championship.

Championship History
As was mentioned, neither one of these programs is new to the state championship game.  Wichita Heights made their first appearance in the 6A title in 2009, where they were manhandled by Olathe North 37-3.  They returned the favor to the Eagles in 2010, dispatching Olathe North 48-14 to claim their first ever state championship in football. 

Olathe South's first state championship appearance
came in 1999 against Garden City.  Olathe South lost
the game, 14-7.
This is the fourth time in the past 13 years that Olathe South has found its way into the 6A title game, but the first time they've done so under head coach Jeff Gourley.  The Falcons are looking to make this the first time they finish the game with the win.  In 1999, hotshot junior quarterback Travis Jackson (who passed for 2,700 yards and 17 touchdowns that season) led Olathe South to a big defeat of Olathe North--the proverbial favorite and three-time defending state champions--in district play, and all the way to the title game.  They faced a Garden City team that had played in and lost the title game the previous year, and Garden City had just enough to slow down the Falcon attack as Olathe South lost 14-7. 

Olathe South put together a wild run to the title in 2004.  Coming off a 2-7 season in 2003, they reeled off a 10-2 record on their march to the state title game in 2004.  They faced Hutchinson in that game--a team that had lost in the 6A title game the previous year--and lost, 30-13.  Hutchinson went on to win four straight 6A titles, including beating Olathe South in the 2007 championship.  Morale of the story?  Olathe South has never faced a "newbie" in the title game, and that doesn't change this year.

What to Expect
It's debatable whether or not Wichita Heights is as talented this year as the they were last season, when they ran all over Olathe North in the title game, thanks much in part to Dreamius Smith.  This year they have benefited from an easy Wichita City League schedule and their performance last week against Derby was hardly a thing of beauty.  However, two things are for sure--they keep finding a way to win every game, and they'll have more speed on their roster than any team Olathe South has faced all year.  How Olathe South handles that speed remains to be seen, but it will be key in determining whether Olathe South is able to win or even keep up in this one.

Is Olathe South a team of destiny?  In some ways they seem to be.  They've overcome two major hurdles this season.  The first was in week four when starting defensive back Zach Sheffield suffered a ruptured kidney during the game against SM East.  Sheffield was hospitalized in the days of the injury, and those that followed.  Obviously his season and career were over.  Meanwhile his twin brother, Taylor, has gone on to play exceptionally well along with the rest of the team.  Certainly Zach has been a point of inspiration for the all of the Olathe South program.

It would also be dumb to overlook the Falcon's one and only loss of the season, which they suffered in week seven at the hands of Blue Valley Northwest.  The Huskies quarterback, Garrett Fugate exposed the Olathe South defense and put up seven touchdowns.  At 0-1 in district play there were doubts as to whether Olathe South would be able to overcome to bad start, but they did!  The rolled Blue Valley West and Olathe East in consecutive weeks to finish the season with the Sunflower League title, in addition to their first eight-win regular season since 2005.

It doesn't seem to matter what falls in the path of Olathe South, they just continue to answer the call.  They've certainly had their way with the Sunflower League this season going 10-0 against league foes, and they appear to be the best representative 6A East has to offer this time around.  Olathe South keeps knocking on the door of a state championship--is this the year they finally break through?  We'll find out on Saturday at a place where legends aren't generally born, but typically solidified.

Stat Comparison

Olathe South

Passing Yards
Frankie Seurer: 1,451, 11 TDs

Rushing Yards
Jordan Ward: 1,477, 19 TDs
Teddy Colbert: 958, 9 TDs
Fritz Wilbur: 408, 4 TDs
Matt Elliott: 391, 3 TDs
Russell White: 329, 7 TDs
Frankie Seurer: 160, 4 TDs

Receiving Yards
Drew Johnson: 585, 6 TDs
Matt Elliott: 537, 3 TDs
Teddy Colbert: 114

Remington Whitley: 154
Dylan DeVries: 118
Chase Hanson: 107
Chris Wright: 96
Greg Fry: 89

Matt Elliott: 4
Remington Whitley: 4
Greg Fry: 3
Drew Johnson: 3
Taylor Sheffield: 2
Scott Gourley: 1
Chris Wright: 1

Wichita Heights

Passing Yards
Matt Reed: 490, 7 TDs

Rushing Yards
Marquel Moore: 1,310, 19 TDs
Matt Reed: 1,151, 19 TDs
Kenneth Iheme: 1,144, 18 TDs
Jon Wilcoxson: 400, 8 TDs
Toma King: 243, 2 TDs

Receiving Yards
Chris Reed: 245, 8 TDs
Kenneth Iheme: 233
Jon Wilcoxson: 127

Chris Turner: 116
Skylar Gatson: 112
James Blackburn: 107
Trevor Wessel: 106
Aderio Ammonds: 84

Justis Moreland: 5
Skylar Gatson: 5
Jimmy Washington: 2
Chris Turner: 2
Chris Walker: 1
Charles Henderson: 1
Trevor Wessel: 1
James Blackburn: 1

Stats courtesy

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