Olathe Who would have thunk it? A Lawrence High football team compiling nearly three times as many yards through the air as on the ground.
The Lions sprung a surprising spread offense on Olathe North on Friday night, an uncustomary attack that worked for a while but eventually withered, and the Eagles posted a 41-13 victory at Olathe District Activities Center.
"I know at Lawrence High it's always been run the ball, run the ball," LHS senior Jared Vinoverski said, "but as a receiver I love the new offense."
Vinoverski's 67-yard scamper with a screen pass from quarterback Clint Pinnick on the first play of the second quarter gave the Lions a 13-7 lead. But that was Lawrence's last hurrah.
Olathe North scored the next 34 points, including 21 in a mistake-filled third quarter.
"In the first half, every time they punched us in the mouth we answered," Lions' coach Dirk Wedd said. "But we've got some growing pains. We have some things we have to work out."
Lawrence High's fledgling offense is a variation of the shotgun.
"It's the pistol," Wedd said. "It's not a shotgun because we have backs behind the quarterback. But it was like a popgun tonight."
Pinnick didn't really throw all that much. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound junior, making his first varsity start at QB, completed seven of 16 passes for 165 yards, including the scoring toss to Vinoverski, one of three wideouts (Travis Sanders and Jake Green are the others) used on almost every down.
Meanwhile, running backs Tyler Hunt and Clifton Sims carried a combined 20 times, but managed only 64 yards between them, including a 23-yard TD run by Hunt in the first quarter that started the Lions' scoring.
Olathe North snapped a 13-13 halftime deadlock on its first possession of the second half, scoring four plays after Benji Love returned the kickoff 68 yards to the Lions' 21.
But the Lions came right back, moving to the Eagles' seven-yard line as Pinnick connected with Sanders on passes of 18 and 34 yards.
Minutes later, however, after a delay penalty had pushed the Lions back to the 12-yard line, Pinnick tried to force a pass into the end zone on a third-and-goal call, and O-North's Breyon Elliott stole the ball near the goal line.
"That was a bad decision on my part," Pinnick said. "I should have tucked it in or thrown it away."
The Elliott interception seemed to deflate the Lions because they surrendered successive runs of 23 and 57 yards to tailback L.C. Bouknight that started a 94-yard scoring march.
Suddenly, instead of tying or taking the lead, the Lions were down by two touchdowns. And the backbreaker was only minutes away when a bad snap to Pinnick led to still another O-North score.
"In the first half, we played good defense," Vinoverski said, "but a couple of turnovers really killed us."
At the same time, the Lions' second-half offense consisted of only 64 yards, and 52 of those came on the two Pinnick-to-Sanders aerials.
"It's going to take some time," Wedd said about the new formation. "It doesn't happen overnight. The offense has been in for three weeks, and it looks like it's been in for three weeks."
O-North's Bouknight scored three touchdowns while rushing for 179 yards on 29 carries. Quarterback Jake Catloth, son of O-North aide Doug Catloth, a former Lawrence High tight end, scored one touchdown and passed for another.
In fact, the Eagles looked more like a traditional Lawrence High team by rushing the ball 53 times and throwing just five times.
The Lions will return to Olathe on Thursday night when they'll meet Olathe Northwest at the College Boulevard Activities Center.