Marisa has been a photographer on the Harbinger staff for 3 years and the online photo editor for 2 years. Along with photography, she enjoys reading and painting and staying caught up on current events. Read Full »
Recording of live broadcast commentated by Julia Poe and Andrew McKittrick:
Story by Julia Poe:
Junior Gunnar Englund scrambled back across his own 30 yard line and slid to a knee. The Olathe East defense dove on top of him, but it was too late — the clock had run down to zero. The Lancers’ student section emptied the stands and pressed against the fence separating the bleachers from the field.
The scoreboard read 20-13 and the Lancers were Sectional Champions.
The first half secured a victory for the 9-1 Lancers as they topped the 7-3 Olathe East Falcons. However, the East defense started out unprepared for the formidable Falcons’ running attack.
In his first offensive possession, Olathe East running back Jalen Branson returned a punt for a touchdown. The Hawks led 7-0, putting the Lancers on their heels in the first minutes of the game.
The Lancers’ offense found a quick response when senior Mitchell Tyler leapt over a tackle to get to the Hawks’ 32 yard line. Senior Ryan Carter was able to finish the job with an 18 yard run up the gut of the field into the endzone, tying the score at 7-7.
After the Hawks muffed the punt return, the Lancers’ special teams unit dove on the ball, recovering possession within the 25 yard line. With plenty of time behind his offensive line, Englund launched a pass into Tyler’s arms for a second touchdown.
The Lancers’ defense took the field with a 14-7 lead. Led by junior Kyle Ball, the team stopped Branson at the line of scrimmage and forced a three-and-out. The ball was put back in the hands of Englund, who marched his team into the red zone.
Englund fired a pass deep into the endzone, where junior Alec Dean snatched it out of mid-air for the final East touchdown. The student section exploded in a shower in blue confetti as the score tipped further in the Lancers’ favor.
Those would be the last points for the Lancers. Meanwhile, Olathe East began an offensive rally.
At the core of the Olathe East offensive drive was Branson and senior Branden Trinkle, who carved the East defense with long runs. After Olathe East switched to a pass-heavy offense, the Lancers were able to hold the Hawks off until halftime, where they entered the locker room with a 20-7 lead.
The second half began strong defensively for the Lancers. Ball wrapped up the quarterback for multiple sacks, senior David Spivak blocked back-to-back passes and junior Charlie White picked off a wobbly pass into the end zone. But a scoreless Lancer offense left the defense struggling to contain Branson and Trinkle.
Branson’s ability to break Lancer tackles and dodge defenders was becoming a problem as he led consecutive marches towards the SM East endzone. Then disaster struck for the Hawks’ offense.
After a hard tackle, Branson was left on his back, writhing in pain and clutching his knee. The star running back was carried off by fellow teammates and would not return to the game.
Instead of collapsing, the Olathe East offense intensified after the loss of their key running back. Stepping up to take his place was Trinkle, the senior tight end who converted on fourth down and then snagged a touchdown pass, bringing the score to 20-13.
Despite rallying the Olathe East team and student section, this final touchdown came too late to secure the Hawks’ comeback. After unsuccessfully attempting two onside kicks, Olathe East was forced to give the ball back to the Lancers. Englund ran down the last two minutes, notching his second varsity appearance and victory.
“This is awesome,” Englund said. “I’m just so glad we won for the seniors. There wasn’t a best part of the game, besides seeing the smile on all the fans’ and all the seniors’ faces.”
The Lancers will take on Olathe North next Friday in the Sub-State Championship and kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Can’t make it to the game? Tune in to www.smeharbinger.net to watch the game live.
Gallery by Marisa Walton: