Right now, things are looking pretty good for the Shawnee Mission East football team and first-year head coach Dustin Delaney.
Behind two touchdown passes from junior quarterback Gunnar Englund, Shawnee Mission East defeated Olathe East 20-13 on Friday night. It was the fifth straight victory for the Lancers, who improved to 10-1 and advanced to the semifinals in Kansas Class 6A football for the first time in school history.
“It’s huge,” Delaney said. “If you get to the semifinals you have a chance. I like the way we’ve been playing. We play hard and if we keep doing that, good things happen.”
The Lancers will now face Olathe North, which defeated top-seeded Lawrence Free State on Friday. It’ll be a rematch of the Sept. 27 game that Shawnee Mission East won 23-22.
Olathe East took an early lead with a 67-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jalen Branson on its first possession, but after that the momentum turned quickly.
“Our kids don’t freak out when bad things happen,” Delaney said. “The next play is the most important, and our defense played great after that. Our kids believe in what we do and I’ve said it every week — and every week it’s true.”
Shawnee Mission East scored three unanswered touchdowns and took a 20-7 lead into halftime.
Ryan Carter capped an 80-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run. Rider Terry recovered a fumble at the Olathe East 35 yard line, which led to a 36-yard touchdown pass from Englund to Mitchell Tyler. Englund connected with Alec Dean for a 15-yard touchdown pass on the next possession, extending the lead.
“Our theme for the night was energy, and we feed off each other’s energy,” Tyler said. “One big play after another had a domino effect on everyone. It was fun to see.”
The Lancers ran a total of 43 plays in the first half for 227 yards, while holding the Hawks to just 11 plays for 141 yards, including the 67-yard run.
The Lancers held their two-touchdown lead until Branden Trinkle ran in for a 7-yard touchdown at 1:32 of the fourth quarter. SM East recovered the on-side kick, ending the rally.
Olathe East, 7-4, lost Branson in the fourth quarter because of an apparent knee injury. He was helped off the field around the 6-minute mark and spent the remainder of the game on the bench.