Eagles stretch championship streak to six titles in seven seasons
Olathe NorthÃ¢ÂÂs Gene Wier ran out of fingers Saturday – at least on one hand.
Now the legendary coach has to push his palms skyward when counting his sixth state championship, which he won Saturday at Kansas UniversityÃ¢ÂÂs Memorial Stadium with a 41-12 victory against Derby in the Class 6A finale.
Ã¢ÂÂWe just played Olathe North football,Ã¢ÂÂ said Wier, whose team capped an undefeated season and extended its all-time Class 6A-record winning streak to 38 behind the EaglesÃ¢ÂÂ second Ã¢ÂÂthreepeatÃ¢ÂÂ of titles in the past seven years.
Ã¢ÂÂTheyÃ¢ÂÂre all new and different. I donÃ¢ÂÂt even look back at the others ones. This is a great one.Ã¢ÂÂ
In part because of Jim Bouknight, who had the greatest single-season rushing performance in Eagle history. The senior paved his teamÃ¢ÂÂs path to the title Saturday with 183 yards and three touchdowns and cemented his own legacy with 2,784 yards this year, the sixth-best state total ever.
Ã¢ÂÂI think when you go to the dance you ought to stay with the girl you brought,Ã¢ÂÂ Wier quipped of Bouknight, who surpassed current Kansas State running back Darren SprolesÃ¢ÂÂ Eagle mark by 299 yards.
While the EaglesÃ¢ÂÂ attack was centered on Bouknight, there were plenty of other players who performed big in outgaining Derby in total yards 405-to-261 with 382 of those on the ground.
After 11-2 Derby started the scoring on quarterback Elmer TagatacÃ¢ÂÂs 2-yard run with 4:05 left in the first, O. North responded on back-to-back scoring plays by quarterback Dallas Browning.
Browning – who somewhat handed the ball off to fullback C.J. Hoge but pulled it back after Hoge was hammered at the line by Panther tacklers – went untouched for a 60-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7.
Less than two minutes later Browning bulleted a 42-yard scoring strike to a wide-open Cody Willard that lifted the Eagles into the lead for good.
BouknightÃ¢ÂÂs rushing ballet soon began.
The 170-pound senior pounded out a nine-yard touchdown at the start of the second quarter.
Derby kicked a field goal, but Bouknight busted in a 10-yard score before the end of the half and bounded 45 yards on the opening drive of the second half, which all but clinched the EaglesÃ¢ÂÂ third crown since 1999 – the only year since 1996 they didnÃ¢ÂÂt play in the title game.
Ã¢ÂÂThis is Olathe North,Ã¢ÂÂ Bouknight said, pointing among awe-inspired Eagle fans in what has become their annual celebration.