Shawnee Mission East opened its doors in 1958, and over the course of more than half a century the school has built an excellent academic reputation and enjoyed a good deal of athletic success. But in 55 years, SM East had never earned the right to compete for a Kansas football championship.
That changed Friday night.
A season marked by surprising — and sometimes seemingly magical — successes reached yet another milestone at SM North District stadium as the Lancers defeated Olathe North in sub-state play, earning the chance to face Derby in the 6A title game next Saturday, Nov. 30.
Twice before, in 1988 and 2001, the Lancers had played their way into the sub-state round, losing on both occasions. With a trip to state secured and 11 wins, the 2013 team has both advanced further and won more games than any team in school history.
The Lancers’ remarkable feat is made more so considering the tumultuous changes in leadership that occurred this spring, when previous coach Chip Sherman announced he was leaving the program for Olathe Northwest.
SM East on Friday showed the poise that’s allowed the team to wiggle out of tight situations all season long, relying on a gritty run game led by Luke Taylor and Ryan Carter to power the offense to 37 points against a well-regarded Olathe North defense. Taylor and Carter each had two touchdowns on the night. Quarterback Gunnar Englund scored on a keeper with 55 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Lancers. Mitch Tyler, who accounted for several large offensive gains running and receiving, scored the Lancers’ other three points when he kicked a field goal in the third quarter.
An elated head coach Dustin Delaney, swarmed by current players, family and coaching colleagues from Hutchinson after the game, said he didn’t know that the Lancers could go as far as they have when the season began.
“But you know what? I refused to have any goal but going to the state championship,” he said. “And I told the kids that from day one. Our kids bought in hook, like and sinker, and did everything we asked them to do. All the credit goes to the kids.”
Listen to Delaney’s post game comments, as well as those of seniors Mitch Tyler (speaking first) and Christian Blessen below:
Mitch Tyler and Christian Blessen
The Lancers will face an 11-1 Derby team that drubbed Garden City 55-17 in their sub-state game in the 6A championship.
The game will be held at Washburn University in Topeka next Saturday, Nov. 30 at 1 p.m.
Gas up those cars, Lancers: We’re headin’ West next week!
— Andrew Stottle (@astottt) November 23, 2013
— Matt Jacobsen (@jacobsenmatt) November 23, 2013
— Trey Hobson (@TreyHob21) November 23, 2013
Very impressed with SM East's rushing attack. Not exactly smash mouth, not finesse. Rather a great balanced combination of speed and power.
— Eli Underwood (@eliunderwood) November 23, 2013