Olathe — All week, the Lawrence High football coaching staff talked about how physical Olathe Northwest would be.
As it turned out, the Ravens also were bigger, faster, quicker and stronger, and they made sure to use all of it to their advantage in a 49-6 rout of Lawrence High on Friday at College Boulevard Activity Complex.
Still searching for their first victory of the season, the Lions found out quickly Friday night that it would not come in Olathe. The Ravens scored on their opening possession on a 27-yard touchdown run from quarterback Josh Lemke, stuffed the Lions three-and-out on the next possession and then pushed their lead to 14-0 on a four-yard TD run from Cullen Phillips.
From there, the Lions imploded. Northwest’s Jake Mattern intercepted LHS quarterback Chris Gaston on the Lions’ next possession and turned the pick into six more points with a 28-yard TD return. One possession later, LHS junior Darrin Sorem fumbled fighting for extra yardage, and the loose ball was picked up by Northwest’s Stephen Anselmi, who took it 26 yards to the end zone to give ONW a 28-0 lead.
Before the Lions could blink, the game had gotten completely away from them.
“I didn’t have these guys prepared tonight and that’s on me,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. “We just weren’t ready to play.”
Olathe Northwest tacked on two more TDs before halftime and took a commanding 42-0 lead into the break.
Late in the first half, with Olathe Northwest already up 35-zip, it looked as if the Ravens were trying not to score. They walked in and out of the huddle, kept the ball on the ground and did not acknowledge the clock as it ticked down below a minute.
Even that didn’t work. On second-and-three from the Lions’ 25-yard line, Northwest’s Devon Boyce broke free for a 24-yard gain that set ONW up with a first-and-goal at the 1. On the next play, Brandon Bouvilom scored with 16 seconds remaining in the half to send the Ravens into the locker room with a six-touchdown lead.
Things started ugly for the Lions and only got worse from there. On the first two drives of the night, Ravens’ tailback Cullen Phillips made like a screwdriver and twisted and turned his way through the LHS defense to set the tone. Phillips carried 19 times for 96 yards and two TDs on the night to pace Northwest’s rushing attack, which torched the Lions for 274 yards.
By halftime, Northwest had outgained the Lions, 209-42 and finished the game with a 322-135 advantage in total offense.
LHS (0-7) was a much different team in the second half, scoring on its opening drive and holding the Ravens (3-4) to just one touchdown with a much more competitive effort.
“To me, it was just like, ‘Don’t give up,” said senior tailback Tyrae Jenkins, who scored the Lions’ only TD of the night. “At Lawrence High, we never give up. That’s what drove me.”
Added Gaston, who took a punishing hit at the three-yard line trying to leap into the end zone on the scoring drive and later chased down an ONW receiver from the far side of the field to shove him out at the 1: “I’m just trying to play for these seniors. They’ve only got a couple of games of football left, maybe in their lives, and I’m just trying to give them all I’ve got. I’m playing for my brothers.”
Although he was encouraged by the improved effort in the second half, Wedd said there was no way to sugarcoat his team’s latest loss.
“At some point, you just have to suck it up and have some pride about you,” Wedd said. “I thought that’s what we did in the second half but right now we’re just overmatched. We’re teaching sophomores how to be Lawrence High kids and it’s tough.”