Monica G. Gibb
SPRINGVILLE — Rare is the occasion when a 9-1 regular season warrants a three seed and a subsequent road game in the first round of the playoffs, but that’s where Olympus finds itself. The Titans, despite their stellar record, will have to travel clear down to Springville to take on a tough Red Devil team in the first round of the playoffs.
Olympus finished in a three-way tie in Region 7 with Orem and Corner Canyon, but due to some poor execution in calling heads or tails, found itself at the bottom of the coin-toss tiebreaker.
“Yeah, that coin toss didn’t go so well for us,” said Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead. “It’s tough having to go on the road to play a great team like Springville, but that’s the game we got and I we’re preparing as best we can to win that game.”
Olympus’ lone loss came the fourth week of the season against Corner Canyon. While the 17-16 loss was tough to swallow, Whitehead believes his team used the loss for motivation.
“I think that game really woke us up and the players really set off and played well since,” Whitehead said. “I think our team has learned to play with a chip on the shoulder and we’ll have that same attitude when we take on Springville this Friday.”
Since the loss against Corner Canyon, no team has come within 21 points of beating the Titans.
Springville coach Wily Child has noticed.
“Yeah, it’s tough for them, but it’s at least as tough for us having to play a team like that in the first round,” Child said. “You get second in region and you get to play a team that went 9-1 on the season. A real good team that runs the ball well and is as well coached as any team we’ve played.”
Child has done a great job coaching up a team that didn't qualify for the playoffs a year ago. Instead of pout over last year's futility, the returning players dedicated themselves in the offseason and that dedication paid dividends in the regular season.
The Red Devils finished 7-3 overall and 4-2 in region — good enough for a two seed and a first-round home game.
"I'm real proud of how this team has worked and come together," Child said. "We've had our challenges, but I think we're entering the playoffs playing at a high level. This game is a huge opportunity for us to host a first-round game."
Springville is led by senior Jessi Noll, who does it all, according to Child.
"He's our leading receiver. We use him out of the backfield at times to run the ball, he returns kicks and punts, and he's one of our leaders on defense," Child said. "He's a great player and certainly a player who has really led well and played well for us."
Other standouts include quarterback Dylan Slavens, who has 1,697 yards passing and 20 touchdowns on the season, and running back Jarom Hendricks, who leads the team with 912 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.
On defense, the team is led by a stellar defensive line that features standout Kaika Drollinger. Braedon Leslie, and his 117 tackles, lead the linebacking corps along with Zach Hansen, who leads the team in sacks with 12.5.
"Their front seven is very good and as good as any front seven we've seen," Whitehead said. "I like our offensive line and our offense, but we're going to be challenged — that's for sure."
Olympus is led by a prolific ground game led by a trio of running backs. Coleman Meier leads the team with 973 yards and 11 touchdowns with Cooper Draper and Ben Seagle adding 522 and 592 yards respectively.
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