Lancers expecting another playoff challenge from Olathe North tonight

Sam Huffman hugged his parents, Doug Huffman and Mary Sinclair, after his gutsy two-point conversion run pushed the Lancers past Olathe North in the substate game in 2014.
Sam Huffman hugged his parents, Doug Huffman and Mary Sinclair, after his gutsy two-point conversion run pushed the Lancers past Olathe North in the substate game in 2014.

It was a scene that could have been ripped straight from the script of a high school football movie: With a trip to the state final on the line, the Lancers needed just to kick a field goal to force a third overtime. Instead, the head coach called for a two-point conversion. Find the endzone, you go to state. Miss, and your season is over.

What happened next is a memory that will live in SM East football lore for decades:

Tonight, the Lancers will take the field against the opponent that endured that tough loss in last year’s sub-state battle, Olathe North. And Lancers head coach Dustin Delaney said he and his team are looking forward to the playoff rematch.

“We’ve had some epic battles with these guys,” he said. “Our kids really enjoying playing them because they know it’s going to be a good game.”

In fact, SM East will be facing the Eagles for the fourth time in Delaney’s three years at the school. The Lancers edged the Eagles 23-22 in their first meeting in 2013, and then beat them again 37-27 in sub-state to earn a trip to the 2013 title game.

Delaney and his squad know they’ll have to extend their winning streak over one of the state’s most storied programs to four if they’re going to have a shot at a third consecutive 6A title game appearance. And tonight’s game might be the toughest challenge from Olathe North Delaney’s Lancers have seen.

Despite the departure of longtime coach Gene Weir after last season, the Eagles haven’t missed a beat, putting up a 9-1 record and looking every bit as dominant as they did during their dynasty years in the late 1990s and early 2000s when they amassed seven state 6A titles in eight years. Their only loss came in a tight battle against Lawrence, widely considered to be the best team in the state this year, when they fell 31-28.

“Olathe North is very good,” Delaney said. “They’ve got a great defense. But I think their offense might be even stronger. Their offense is more explosive than last year.”

Based on a KSHSAA rule that allows a lower seeded team to host a game if they haven’t hosted in the playoffs already, Olathe North — the sixth seed in the east — will host the second-seeded Lancers at the Olathe District Activity Center, 20925 West 159th Street. Should the Lancers prevail and earn a trip to sub-state against the winner of Lawrence and Blue Valley, however, they’d get to host the game at SM North District Stadium.

Tonight’s game kicks off at 7 p.m.