Last weekend, Shawnee Mission North suffered one of its most humiliating defeats of the year, giving up 70 points at home to a middling Olathe South squad that was averaging less than 20 points a game. And for the better part of the first 23 minutes of Friday’s first-round playoff matchup against Olathe North, it looked like a cloud was still hanging over the Indians’ defense.
Olathe North easily steered its way to three touchdowns in the opening quarters. And while the Indians’ offense kept punching back, it seemed as though the Eagles were in command. Then, as the clock broke into the final minute before halftime, something clicked.
The Eagles had driven to the 5-yard line with the game knotted at 22, and had a fresh set of downs to find the endzone again and take a lead into the locker room. Instead, SM North held fast, with defensive back Nate McCoy knocking Eagles running back Daymonn Sanchez — who had scored two of his team’s first half touchdowns – out at the 1 yard line on fourth down with just 18 seconds to play. Instead of limping into the half with a touchdown deficit, the Indians defense marched off the field riding high.
So high, in fact, that they came back out and held the Eagles scoreless the entire second half.
“They gained confidence as the game went on,” said head coach Ben Bartlett. “They had some stops. And they never doubted it. That’s what winning teams do.”
With another standout game from senior quarterback Will Schneider, who had two rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns, including a 62-yard hookup with sophomore Noah Laird, the Indians pulled away for a 36-22 win that marked the school’s first playoff victory since 2003.
“Nobody thought we’d have a chance after [last week],” Bartlett said. “Some teams really could have gotten down after a loss like that. But our boys looked at the challenge and worked hard all week leading up to this game. They really earned a great victory for the school and for themselves this week.”
Under the state’s new playoff system, the week nine loss marks the end of a disappointing season for Olathe North, the powerhouse program that has won eight state titles since 1996. The Eagles finish their 2016 campaign at 3-6.
SM North advances to the Regional round, where it will meet Sunflower League foe Lawrence High, which dominated Blue Valley West 51-12 in its Friday game. That game will be played at Lawrence next Friday.