High School Sports

After three straight heartbreakers, battle-tested Olathe Northwest turns the tables

After three tough losses, quarterback Easton Crupper and Olathe Northwest finally got a win last week.
After three tough losses, quarterback Easton Crupper and Olathe Northwest finally got a win last week. skeyser@kcstar.com

Not again.

That was the only thought running through Olathe Northwest quarterback Easton Crupper’s head last Friday, as he stared at yet another tied scoreboard. Shawnee Mission North had just driven 97 yards down the field to tie Northwest at 22-22 late in the fourth quarter.

“It just seemed like it was gonna be like all the other ones,” Crupper said.

These close-game situations, of course, had not gone so well for Northwest this year.

In the first week of the season, the Ravens went to double-overtime against Goddard, and lost 27-26 after failing to convert a two-point conversion.

The next week, they went to a single overtime and lost by a touchdown, 20-14, against district rival Olathe East.

Surely it couldn’t get much worse.

But in week three, down 21-16 to Lee’s Summit North, Northwest put together a 7-minute, fourth-quarter drive all the way to the 1-yard line. After running one play, Northwest couldn’t line up correctly for a spike, and got pushed back to the 5 on a penalty. Crupper got the ball to tight end Matt Vanderslice.

But, “stopped at the 1,” said Crupper, shaking his head. “No time left on the clock.”

Three straight weeks, the Ravens had had their hearts broken. So when they looked up last week, and saw another tie on the scoreboard with time running out, it’s no wonder they were nervous. Northwest only had about 20 seconds to work with.

Enter Joe Hatzfeld. The junior wide receiver got open downfield, Crupper chucked it and Hatzfeld’s catch set up Northwest for a game-winning 27-yard field-goal attempt.

David Boschma, who also plays soccer for Northwest, nailed it as time expired, and was promptly mobbed by his teammates.

“It was pretty cool,” Boschma said. “Playing both sports, I hang out with soccer guys mostly, and after that I really felt like part of the team.”

“I think that’s completely turned things around,” Crupper said. “It’s hard to get excited for things when you’re 0-3, but it seems like everybody has really taken last week and used it as the next step.”

With Kansas high school football moving to an overall seeding system this year for its postseason, those three opening losses particularly stung for Northwest.

To come so close, but still come away with nothing, could have been disheartening for a lot of teams.

“It was kind of hard coming into practice every day thinking, ‘man, we’re 0-3,’ ” senior linebacker Chase Hartquist said. “We were inches away — I mean, overall, maybe a yard away from being 3-0.”

The silver lining, of course, is experience.

That game-winning field goal last week? It came after a successful spike — no penalties this time.

“We’d been through it before,” Hartquist said. “Now we have everything that we need to be successful in a tight game. At this point, we’ve experienced it all.”

Ashley Scoby: 816-234-4875, @AshleyScoby