Sunday, September 15, 2013

Olathe Northwest's Fair Catch

Nathan Power makes up one-third of
arguably the league's top receiving
Article written by Johnny Carver, special to the Sunflower League Football Blog.

Having three excellent receiving targets is a quarterback’s dream.  Helping graduated Olathe Northwest quarterback Holdyn Halperin finish second in the league with 2,119 passing yards last fall were Nathan Power, Chase Gitlin, and Manny Psihountas.

Halperin is gone, but Olathe Northwest has room for optimism undertheir  new quarterback due of Cole Dahlquist and Jack Hatzfeld.  In addition, Power and Gitlin have each assumed senior leadership roles, while Psihountas is becoming more comfortable on the field as a junior.  Each of the three players finished in the top 12 in the league in receiving yards last season, and all three have big expectations for this fall

* * * * * 

Power’s varsity career began when he was a sophomore in a game against Leavenworth.  He’s enjoyed every game since, and loves being under the spotlight of the game.

“The best part is playing under the lights,” said Power.  “You’re in front of half of the school doing what you love.”

Power had a successful junior season, earning Second Team All-Sunflower League honors.  He finished third in the league in receiving yards with 702.  He also led the team with three touchdown catches, and recorded 48 receptions.

“I had a good relationship with Holdyn,” he said of last season.  “We had a great connection both on and off the field and that helped.  As a whole, our offense clicked as a team.”

Although he was an effective weapon for the Ravens last year, he made many improvements over the offseason in order to make an even larger impact this season.

“I went to the gym after our morning workouts over the summer,” said Power.  “I did some auxiliary work because I wanted to weigh 190 pounds this going into this season.  If I didn’t think we did enough running in the morning, I would get it in afterwards.  I had to keep myself conditioned.”

Power seems uncertain of his future after this season, but knows that he wants to play at the next level if at all possible.

“Football is something that I love,” he said.  “I’ve put a lot of time into it, and I can’t picture myself ever not doing something football related.  Right now the goal is to play in college so we’ll see how the season goes before I can make that decision.”

He currently has interest from Central Missouri State, Butler, Drake, and Des Moines.  Gitlin, however, has caught the eye of major college coaches.

* * * * *

This summer, Gitlin went on visits to Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan, Missouri, Northwestern, and Ohio State.  Although he has drawn attention for his 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame, he has not received any offers -- yet.

“All of these colleges want me to put on the pounds first,” he said.  “I’m on a 5,000 calorie diet and I eat four lunches.”

Of all of the schools that he’s visited thus far, he is most intrigued by Illinois.

“Illinois’s camp was my favorite,” said Gitlin.  “The campus is great.  The coaches have a family attitude, a lot like Coach Sherman has.”

Last season, Gitlin was named Honorable Mention All-Sunflower League for his efforts.  He finished seventh in the league in receiving yards with 533.  He also caught 42 passes and two touchdowns.

Off the field, Gitlin and Power are best friends.  But when it comes to football, they use each other as competition.  They’re most competitive with the school’s all-time reception record.

“I want to beat the receptions record,” said Gitlin.  “I’m not sure what it is, but as of right now I’m about fifteen away for a career.  But Nathan is also eight away so I have to compete with him.  That gives us some friendly competition, which isn’t bad.”

Although they both remain competitive, they still wish the best for each other and know that they both need to thrive in order to succeed as a team.

“Chase will have an outstanding season,” Power said.  “He’ll be set up in positions to where he’ll be able to make plays on the field at any time.  On the inside, he uses his size to get his body against the defender.  In practice, it usually takes about four or five guys to get him down.”

Coaches around the league will be focusing on Gitlin this season due to his size.  This is a positive to Gitlin, who believes that this will open things up for Power.

“I’m really looking forward to double coverage,” Gitlin said.  “As soon as they double cover me, they’ll have to single cover Nathan.  He’s really hard to cover.”

* * * * * 

The youngest of the trio, Manny Psihountas, played a major role on varsity last fall.  He finished 12th in the league in receiving yards with 310.  He also caught 36 passes and scored one touchdown.  His impact would not have been made without the help of Gitlin and Power.

“Nathan and Chase were a huge part in helping me mentally prepare,” said Psihountas.  “In practice, they kept me going and made sure I was giving 100 percent effort every time.  Before games, I was always nervous and they were so calm and collected.  They just led me by example.”

“We could tell that he was getting nervous,” said Power.  “We were nervous too, but we had to step up and help him prepare.”

Power seems impressed with all of the work that Manny put in over the summer and seems highly optimistic of his future.

“He has become a much better player than he was last year,” said Power.  “He is a whole lot faster.  He’ll have a great season this year.”

Each of the players attributes their success to their hard work in the off-season, particularly with running routes last season outside of practice.

“Every day throughout the summer, we ran routes,” said Psihountas.  “Before the season even started, we developed a strong chemistry.  It carried us through the offseason and allowed us to connect.”

* * * * * 

"I think the team is going to be a sleeper," said Gitlin. "I don't think anyone knows what we have. In the past, Olathe Northwest has had some below par teams. But with Coach Sherman coming in, we've been striving to improve every single week."

Through two games, Olathe Northwest stands at 1-1, with an overtime win against SM Northwest and a week two loss to Olathe East. Gitlin and Power have combined to catch 23 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, while Psihountas, surprisingly, has yet to catch a pass.

Johnny Carver,


Bird Hunter said...

I've seen the first two ONW games and they have a long ways to go. The defense is better but still can't stop teams from running outside. The offense is missing last years offensive line and needs to figure out how to better utilize Gitlin. District play could be painful if they don't get those things figured out.

Bird Hunter said...

I've seen the first two ONW games and they have a long ways to go. The defense is better but still can't stop teams from running outside. The offense is missing last years offensive line and needs to figure out how to better utilize Gitlin. District play could be painful if they don't get those things figured out.