Though it seemed improbable at the beginning of the season with a new coach, Shawnee Mission East is headed to its first state championship game.
Behind a pair of two-touchdown performances from seniors Luke Taylor and Ryan Carter, Shawnee Mission East beat Olathe North 37-27 at home on Friday night.
Shawnee Mission East and first-year head coach Dustin Delaney are a program-best 11-1 and will face Derby, which defeated Garden City 55-17, in next Saturday’s Kansas Class 6A state final in Topeka.
“It’s unbelievable,” Taylor said. “The first day, coach came here he told us we were going to go to state and now we are here.”
After stopping Olathe North on the opening possession, Shawnee Mission East took just seven plays to set up a 37-yard touchdown from Taylor.
Olathe North started its next possession on its own 42-yard line following a face-mask penalty on Shawnee Mission East and answered with a 5-yard touchdown by standout junior running back Venus Triplett.
The Lancers’ only non-effective drive started at the Eagles’ 39-yard line following a 34-yard kickoff return by Mitchell Tyler and a penalty. However, on the first play out of scrimmage, the Lancers fumbled. They responded quickly on defense though forcing the game’s only three-and-out.
On the next possession, Carter added a 2-yard touchdown run for the Lancers, but Tyler missed the extra point, which allowed the Eagles to take their first lead on a 7-yard run by Cole Murphy.
Shawnee Mission East scored again with Taylor’s second touchdown of the night on a 4-yard run, and Carter added a two-point conversion to give the Lancers a 21-14 lead at the half.
Out of halftime, the Lancers finally disrupted the pattern by scoring the first consecutive points of the game with a 33-yard field goal by Tyler.
Triplett added two more touchdowns in the second half and finish with 134 yards in 28 attempts, but the Eagles couldn’t slow down the Lancers who scored on all but one of their seven possessions.
“At no point did we get the stop we needed,” Olathe North head coach Gene Weir said. “All we probably needed was one stop because I never really felt like they were going to stop us, but we never got it.”
Carter and back-up quarterback Gunnar Englund scored the Lancers’ final two touchdowns before Carter recovered a fumble as the clock ran out to seal the victory.