Free State eases past Olathe East in home opener
Not even Mother Nature could slow down the Free State football team.
Despite the wet conditions, Free State looked just as flawless on the offensive end during a 41-0 victory over Olathe East Friday at FSHS. The Firebirds scored a touchdown on all four possessions in the first half of their home opener en route to their second consecutive shutout of the 2018 season.
“I thought we came out and set the tone early,” Free State coach Bob Lisher said. “We had a nice drive to start the game. That’s what we wanted to do. We weren’t perfect, but we were physical enough to come out and make things happen.”
But Free State (2-0) proved it can score in a variety of ways in the latest lopsided win.
In the season opener, FSHS made quick work of its opposition by scoring four touchdowns on 15 total plays in the first quarter during a 41-0 win over Olathe West.
However, Free State used more of a methodical approach against Olathe East, which was necessary due to the conditions. On the first drive, senior running back Jax Dineen carried the ball on the first six plays from scrimmage after recording just eight attempts in the season opener.
Senior receiver Keenan Garber then capped a 12-play opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep.
“He’s amazing,” Dineen said. “He’s one of the fastest players that I have ever played with. We grew up playing together, our chemistry is just there. It’s going to be tough to stop us if we really bring it.”
The Firebirds continued to lean on the ground game, though Garber netted the lone score through the air in the first half. Junior quarterback Malik Berry hit Garber in stride for a 69-yard touchdown pass.
With 8:08 left in the second quarter, Dineen finished off a 12-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. One possession later, Dineen recorded his best run of the season to close out an 8-play, 90-yard drive.
On 4th-and-4, Berry handed Dineen the ball and he proceeded to burst through the middle. Dineen bullied his way over a linebacker on his way to notching a 44-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left in the first half.
“It’s very hard to tackle Jax,” senior linebacker Jalen Nash said. “If you go by yourself, you have to bring it. I’m not surprised when he does that, he’s been doing it since second grade. He’s a natural.”
Junior Turner Corcoran, senior Shane Skwarlo, junior Kyle Flachsbarth, senior Zach Rasys and junior Ryan Lutz helped pave the way for the strong ground game, as the offensive line continues to improve during the early part of the season.
In addition, the Firebirds’ defense buckled down after letting the Hawks (0-2) march down the field on their opening drive. Nash and Matt Georgie registered crucial stops, while junior defensive lineman Devon Buck and senior defensive tackle Brandon Zeller helped maintain Olathe East’s ground game.
It marked the second shutout for the Firebirds this year, who recorded just one such performance last season.
“It’s very important to get that shutout,” Nash said. “I like to see all of our young guys get in and have fun.”
Free State travels to Shawnee Mission North at 7 p.m. Friday.
FREE STATE 41, OLATHE EAST 0
FSHS | OE
First downs 14 | 6
Rushes-yards 45-321 | 34-100
Passing yards 130 | 32
Total offense 451 | 132
Fumbles-lost 0-0 | 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-40 | 6-35
Score by quarters
Free State 14 14 6 7 — 41
Olathe East 0 0 0 0 — 0
OE: Mar’rrell Fountain 27-84, Hunter Thomas 7-16
FS: Jax Dineen 19-176, Malik Berry 11-71, Keenan Garber 2-8, Jaxson Webb 4-14, Tyler Bowden 4-8, LJ Mack 1-38, Ja’Brandian Douglas 4-6
OE: Thomas 5-9-32
FS: Malik Berry 5-12-114, Jaxson Webb 1-2-16
OE: Miles Wills 4-30, Marquel Wills 1-2
FS: Garber 2-80, Jax Dineen 1-4 Cole Phillips 1-16, Jaxson Webb 2-30
HOW THEY SCORED
7:09 — Keenan Garber 3 touchdown run. Connor Gellender kick good. (FS 7, OE 0)
2:15 — Garber 69 pass from Malik Berry. Gellender kick good. (FS 14, OE 0)
8:08 — Jax Dineen 6 touchdown run. Gellender kick good. (FS 21, OE 0)
1:19 — Dineen 44 touchdown run. Gellender kick good. (FS 28, OE 0)
3:53 — Dineen 8 touchdown run. PAT blocked. (FS 34, OE 0)
10:56 — LJ Mack 38 touchdown run. Gellender kick good. (FS 41, OE 0)