Olathe wears down Eagle Valley
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” Dylan Markley staggered Eagle Valley on the opening kickoff, and David Rhodes delivered the knockout punch.
A physical Olathe football team beat up and wore down the Devils at Hot Stuff Stadium on Friday night in Gypsum. The Pirates dealt Eagle Valley a 32-7 loss ” the Devils second-straight defeat to open this season.
“The win is awesome,” Rhodes said. “(Eagle Valley) is a good 3A team. We always play 1A teams to start the year. We needed a challenge, and this was a real good challenge for us.”
A spirited home crowd didn’t even have time to sit down before Olathe put six points up on the scoreboard. Markley went nearly untouched on his way to a 95-yard kickoff return to open the game. The play sapped the Devils’ energy.
“In high school football, if you can do that right out of the chute, I don’t care what team you are, down 7-0 in the first 30 seconds is a huge momentum changer,” Olathe coach Ryan Corn said.
Eagle Valley barely got a breather before Olathe again started marching the ball down the field. Pirates quarterback Garhett Jurgens found his big tight end, Chris Brummitt, on fourth-and-3 for 18 yards to keep the drive alive.
The very next play, Rhodes rumbled in from four yards out. After a two-point conversion, Olathe held a 14-0 advantage with 6:18 still left in the first quarter.
Needing something good to go its way, Eagle Valley responded with a methodical 16-play, 67-yard touchdown drive. The feet and arm of Devils quarterback Matt Morgan did most of the damage. Morgan helped Eagle Valley convert three third downs and one fourth down on the drive. He finished the game with 63 yards through the air and 62 on the ground.
John Crawford capped the 6-minute, 51-second drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
Finally able to gather itself after two quick-strike touchdowns, the Devils’ defense started to play with more authority. Zak Thrall, Pollo Almanza and the rest of the Eagle Valley gang kept Olathe at bay for the rest of the half, sending the game into the break 14-7.
“We went into half 14-7, and we thought, ‘OK, we are in this thing,'” Eagle Valley coach John Ramunno said. “It didn’t seem like we had a team effort in the second half. Again, poor tackling. Kids were playing straight-legged at the end.”
Too much Rhodes
The second half turned into the David Rhodes Show. The compact tailback busted through dozens of would-be tacklers on his way to a big night. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound senior pushed the Pirates to a 20-7 lead when he marched in from 15 yards out with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.
It helped that the guys in front of him created a gaping hole on the left side of the defense.
“Our offensive line is tough,” Rhodes said. “That’s basically it. We wore them down toward the end. They got tired.”
Rhodes continued to deliver body blows in the fourth quarter. Numerous times an Eagle Valley tackler would be wrapped around Rhodes, but he would still manage to gain extra yards. Even when Olathe faced a third down, it would often go to an option play and pitch the ball back to Rhodes for big yards.
“Option football is what we faced tonight,” Ramunno said. “Everyone is assigned a guy, then they have to go get the ball. We didn’t have that happen. The quarterback broke loose a couple of times. The fullback broke loose and made some big runs on us.”
Even with a 26-7 lead, Rhodes wasn’t done. He punctuated his season opening performance with a 43-yard touchdown burst. On the play, he broke a half dozen tackles, even doing a 360 spin to elude defenders.
Rhodes rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries in the game. As a team, the Pirates chewed up 265 yards on the ground compared to 147 for Eagle Valley.
“He is a tough kid,” Corn said. “You are going against 215 pounds. A strong kid like that, it is one of those things where we are going to keep wearing them down. It plays off well with our good sized linemen.”
Despite trailing 20-7 in the third quarter, the football game was far from decided. Eagle Valley misfired on two critical chances to get back in the game with a scoring drive.
The first miscue came after the Devils put together a solid, 50-yard drive down to the Olathe 27-yard line. On third-and-3, Eagle Valley was whistled for a holding penalty after a Harrison Neal run would have given the Devils a first down. Two plays later, Eagle Valley turned the ball over on downs.
The next drive also ended in disaster for the home team. Morgan connected on a 26-yard pass to Robert Padget on the first play to move the ball to the Olathe 42-yard line. Unfortunately for Eagle Valley, a fumble two plays later wiped out the positive vibes.
The Devils don’t have much time to regroup before next Friday’s matchup with Glenwood. Quarterback Dakota Stonehouse ” one of the most talented players in the state ” leads the No. 3 ranked Demons.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or at firstname.lastname@example.org