Free State rolls past Olathe South to stay undefeated
photo by: Nick Krug
Olathe South did what no other team had done against the undefeated Free State Firebirds, which was score a touchdown on a kickoff return.
However, it only took 13 ticks off the clock for the Firebirds to respond with a 95-yard kickoff return of their own. It was the third touchdown within a 28-second span following a reception by senior receiver Keenan Garber.
“We answered that adversity well, and I was pleased with that,” coach Bob Lisher said. “I’ve seen a lot of things over my 37 years, that was one of the crazier ones.”
Free State overpowered Olathe South in its 54-13 win Friday night. With three receiving touchdowns on the night, Garber now has 13 touchdowns on 24 touches this season. He finished the night with 103 yards receiving.
photo by: Nick Krug
Junior quarterback Malik Berry commanded Free State’s offense with 226 all-purpose yards, and netted two scores on the ground and three in the air. He left the game with 4:32 in the third quarter for backup Jaxson Webb, who led the Firebirds to a score by handing the ball off to Tyler Bowden seven times.
“He missed a few reads here and there … He played an outstanding game, probably his best game,” Lisher said.
Berry and Webb helped FSHS score a touchdown on each drive leading up to its ninth and final one of the game. The Firebirds had such a high lead, they sent in backup kicker Tray Jones for the extra point on a score by Bowden.
Free State’s defensive unit was relentless, forcing the Olathe South to pass and causing turnovers. Senior Oliver Paranjothi snagged a pair of first half interceptions, and Ben Miller had one to open up the half. On the first play of the game, Berry nearly grabbed one himself.
With Olathe South coming into the night averaging 200 yards of rushing, the FSHS defensive line of Matt Georgie, Turner Corcoran, Devon Buck, Lovette Epelle and Miller held the Falcons to 17 rushing yards heading into their final dive. South quarterback Reed Smith was sacked four times.
Corcoran played both ways, joining Shane Skwarlo, Kyle Flachsbarth, Ryan Lutz and Zach Rasys who each made wide gaps for senior running back Jax Dineen as well as Free State’s seven other rushers on the night.
“(Seeing the hole) is the best feeling ever. An automatic eight yard thing and it’s up to me to make the rest,” Dineen said. “I am proud of the line, they’re blocking. (Our) receivers are blocking, coach (Lisher) giving good plays, we’re looking good right now.”
Dineen had over 100 yards of rushing before the end of the first quarter, finishing with 151 on 15 touches.
“When you have a running back like Jax Dineen who is going to plow over people, play after play, and then get up and do it again over and over again, that’s kind of like a Dineen thing,” Corcoran said.
Free State (6-0) travels to Shawnee Mission East at 7 p.m. Friday.
FREE STATE 54, OLATHE SOUTH 13
OS | FSHS
First downs 9 | 18
Rushes-yards 17-34 | 44-319
Passing yards 87 | 155
Total offense 121 | 474
Fumbles-lost 2-1 | 0-0
Interceptions 3 | 0
Penalties-yards 5-35 | 7-65
Score by quarters
Olathe South 0 7 0 6 — 13
Free State 20 21 6 7 — 54
OS: Andrew Nehrbass 5-38, Reed Smith 5-(minus 21), Levi Sprague 7-17
FSHS: Jax Dineen 15-151, Tyler Bowden 8-41, Ja’Brandian Douglas 4-29, Malik Berry 8-71, LJ Mack 2-19, Jaxson Webb 4-17, Matt Lane 1-(minus 2), Jake Kallenbach 2-(minus 7).
OS: Reed Smith 8-19-87
FSHS: Malik Berry 12-19-155, Jaxson Webb 0-1-0
OS: AJ Shields 4-39, Braden Engelken 1-16, Blaize White 1-12, Andrew Nehrbass 1-8, Jai Haynes 1-12
FSHS: Keenan Garber 6-103, LJ Mack 1-14, Jaxson Webb 2-30, Jax Dineen 1-(minus 1), Ja’Brandian Douglas 1-4, Payton Sparks 1-4.
HOW THEY SCORED
9:36 — Malik Berry 25 run. Connor Gellander kick good. (FSHS 7, OS 0)
7:19 — Keenan Garber 40 pass from Berry. Gellander kick good. (FSHS 14, OS 0)
2:30 — Jax Dineen 10 run. Gellander kick wide left. (FSHS 20, OS 0)
6:23 — Garber 12 pass from Berry. Gellander kick good. (FSHS 27, OS 0)
6:08 — Jai Haynes kickoff return. Adam Young kick good. (FSHS 27, OS 7)
5:55 — LJ Mack kickoff return. Gallender kick good. (FSHS 34, OS 7)
52.6 — Garber 16 pass from Berry. Gallender kick good. (FSHS 41, OS 7)
5:32 — Berry 10 run. Gallender kick wide left. (FSHS 47, OS 7)
11:57 — Tyler Bowden 4 run. Tray Jones kick good. (FSHS 54, OS 7)
54.1 — Levi Sprague 2 run. Kick fumbled. (FSHS 54, OS 13)