Daymonn Sanchez’s 40th carry on a bitterly cold Friday night meant just a little bit more to him and everyone standing on the Olathe North sideline.
So the wiry senior running back jumped up and punctuated it by screaming and banging his fist across his chest three times.
That run was the final blow in Olathe North’s 24-21 victory over Shawnee Mission East in the Class 6A sectional at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.
Olathe North won without pretense. The Eagles (9-2) won by running the football without compassion or remorse. Its final drive was football’s ultimate version of stop me if you can.
Shawnee Mission East (8-3) knew it was going to see either Sanchez or Olathe North quarterback Arland Bruce IV running straight ahead. The Lancers knew they needed a stop to try to extend their season.
Olathe North refused, grinding the last 6:12 off the game clock to advance to a sub-sectional date with Blue Valley North next week.
“The fourth quarter, we just kept the momentum,” Sancehz said. “We just kept pushing it forward, getting first downs and running the clock on them.”
Sanchez finished with nearly 300 yards and a touchdown. His 72-yard romp early in the fourth quarter gave the Eagles the lead just seconds after relinquishing it.
Sanchez and Bruce, who ran for over 100 yards himself, combined to put the game away.
“We’ve been able to come together, and during practice we’ve been figuring things out and trying to better ourselves,” Sanchez said. “We’ve got to get up early (this) morning to go to football. Every day we’re working.”
It shows. The Eagles avenged a week 6 loss to SM East.
“The last time they drove it down and stuck it in when they needed to, and fortunately we had the ball at the end,” Olathe North coach Chris McCartney said. “Our guys remember that. We had the score of the game on the scoreboard at the practice field all week long. It was up there when we were in school.”
There were also a few bad playoff memories that the Lancers doled out in previous years.
“There’s a history here,” McCartney said. “We got beat (at substate) in 2013 and ‘14. They had a running clock on us. It’s been ugly. To get where we’re able to compete with them and finally take one from them is nice.”
Olathe North got off to a near perfect start in the first half, dominating time of possession and methodically building a 10-0 lead.
Things seemed to get better when the Eagles pinned Shawnee Mission East inside its own 5-yard line in the final minutes of the first half.
The Lancers responded with a 97-yard drive, capped off by the first of quarterback Andy Maddox’s two touchdown passes.
Shawnee Mission East seemed poised for a breakthrough when it rallied to take the lead early in the fourth quarter.
That’s when Olathe North’s running game and one final stop from the defense put the game away.
The Eagles will need more of their ball control formula for next week’s game against high-octane Blue Valley North and quarterback Graham Mertz.
“We’ve got to keep the ball out of that kid’s hands. He’s pretty good,” McCartney said. “I think that’s what everybody tries to do, and nobody’s very successful at it.”
The Eagles would be wise to hold the ball for every possible second next week, and they have the patience and personnel to do just that.