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Preview: SM East vs. defending state champ Olathe South, Thursday at 7 p.m.
Yowsers, folks. Tonight’s week four game against Olathe South could be what we look back on at the end of the season as the moment the Lancers proved that they were a top-caliber team. Sunflower League Football blogger Eli Underwood named it his game of the week. Here’s his preview:
The schedule makers really came down hard on the defending 6A champs, as several Tweeters pointed out to me. Olathe South is in the midst of a brutal three-game road stretch. They were “rewarded” for their road victory against the second ranked Free State with another road game, this time against undefeated SM East. They go on the road again next week to Lawrence to take on the fourth ranked LHS. That being said, this Thursday treat should be a phenomenal game and there are plenty of storylines.
Olathe South has a nine-game winning streak going, and the Falcons, much like last year, seem destined to win every time they set step onto a football field. They have a moxie about them which comes with winning a state title. SM East on the other hand has really exceeded preseason expectations and looks like a team equipped to make a lengthy playoff run. The Lancers’ new starters have picked up right where their predecessors left off, and Jordan Darling’s ability to distribute the ball with precision is making life painful for opponents.
There are two battles within the battle to keep an eye on. The first is how well Olathe South’s rushing attack, spearheaded by Russell White, Chase Hanson and Matt Elliott does against the SM East linebackers, led by the Stewart twins, Sam and David, Patrick Blackburn, Ryan Carter and Kyle Ball. I’ve witnessed both groups on several occasions and both are flat out nasty on the football field. I think this matchup–how SM East’s linebackers can do against Olathe South’s running backs/wings–is going to determine the outcome of the game more than anything.
The second battle within the battle to look out for is SM East’s passing attack against Olathe South’s secondary. SM East is arguably the league’s best passing team and Olathe South had some struggles defending the deep ball against Free State last week. Darling will primarily distribute the ball to three players–Connor Rellihan, Chrisitan Blessen and David Sosna. Olathe South’s secondary, led at the corner positions by Elliott and Thomas McCue,will really have to buckle down to keep the Lancers from running their heralded deep fade routes, crossing patterns and bubble screens successfully.
More than anything it looks like we’re going to have a great game on our hands Thursday night. Both teams will have plenty of support from their student sections and respective fan bases and it should be a raucous atmosphere. The winner of this game will almost certainly become the favorite to take the top seed in East Class 6A come playoff time.
GO GET ‘EM, LANCERS!!!