Olathe North doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the antiquated football theory that only three things can happen when throwing the football, and two of them are bad.
And the Eagles likely didn’t switch to a more ground-heavy approach in Friday’s 48-23 victory over Leavenworth, 0-5, because the first pass from quarterback Matt Wright was intercepted.
It’s just that both Wright and senior running back Vinnie Shabazz are fast enough to turn any running play into a wind sprint. And the Olathe North offensive line is quick and strong.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
And let’s be honest, the weather Friday — 60 degrees with a crisp breeze out of the north — was perfect for a good run.
“We weren’t going to try to throw the ball unless we had to. We knew we had a good ground game, so we tried to do that as much as possible,” Wright said.
Offensive balance can be a good thing. On this night, though, Wright and Shabazz were all the balance the Eagles, 5-0, needed.
Shabazz was the steady engine that drove the Olathe North offense, piling up 154 yards and three touchdowns in 24 carries, all in the first half. The workload and 41-0 lead at halftime earned him the rest of the night off.
“We’re trying to get better every time we get the ball,” Shabazz said.
If Shabazz was the engine, Wright was the turbo boost.
Wright ran for 152 yards in the first half in just five carries. His touchdown runs of 75 and 68 yards were veritable wind sprints. Wright wasn’t touched at the line and flew past the Leavenworth defensive backs trying to catch him.
“He’s pretty fast. He’s a strong kid, and it’s one of those deals when he gets in the open field he can turn it on pretty good,” Olathe North coach Chris McCartney said.
The Eagles ran for 309 yards in the first half behind an offensive line that was opening holes on both sides of the ball.
The Olathe North isn’t big on size, but there’s plenty of power and technique there.
“It’s fun blocking for them and knowing no matter what, someone is going to go north and south and get yards,” senior lineman Brandon Huntley said. “It’s just fun. It’s a competition every week, seeing who does what we can do on the line. You just see what you can do.”
It’s nothing fancy, but then again, it doesn’t need to be.
“It’s pretty simple blocking schemes. We work on it day in and day out, and good things happen when we work together,” McCartney said.
The Eagles are right where they want to be at the halfway point of the season. They play Shawnee Mission North next week before getting into the meat of the district schedule, including upcoming showdowns with Lawrence and Olathe Northwest.
“We’re definitely trying to take care of our penalties and our discipline,” Wright said. “As soon as we take care of that, it’ll be close games between Lawrence and Olathe Northwest. We’re ready for them.”
The only downside for Olathe North on Friday was an injury to senior defensive lineman Zack Burks.
“We’re not sure what it is. He tweaked his knee, so we’re hoping for some good” news, McCartney said.