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 coach Aaron Whitehead
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.
"Like I said, Olympus is a well-coached team and will present a running attack that is as good as anything we've seen," Child said. "Hopefully we can play well enough to limit what they do."
Both coaches believe Springville will enjoy a significant home-field advantage that could play a role in the outcome.
"Our home crowd is great," Child said. "I know the players are excited to play in front of a home crowd in a playoff game and hopefully that plays to our advantage."
"I expect a big crowd and will be doing their best to support their team and give Springville an edge," Whitehead added. "Springville is a great town that supports their teams well, I know that, and it will be a challenge to play in front of a crowd like that."
Olympus statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 34.8 ppg (6th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 14.2 ppg (2nd in 4A)
Passing leader: Chase Manning (83-139, 59.7 percent, 1,014 yards, 14 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Coleman Meier (106 carries, 973 yards, 11 TDs), Ben Seagle (92 carries, 594 yards, 5 TDs), Cooper Draper (50 carries, 522 yards, 7 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Connor Haller (31 catches, 385 yards, 4 TDs), Coleman Meier (17 catches, 172 yards, 4 TDs)
Tackles leaders: James Fox (76 tackles), Michael Ninivaggi (63 tackles)
Sack leaders: Jeff Day, Jeff Faletoi, Miles Henry-Davis, Michael Ninivaggi (5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Connor Haller (6 INTs)
Springville statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 29.0 ppg (9th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 24.6 ppg (13th in 4A)
Passing leader: Dylan Slavens (105-193, 54.4 percent, 1,697 yards, 20 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Jarom Hendricks (162 carries, 912 yards, 9 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Jessi Noll (33 catches, 542 yards, 2 TDs), Rhett Clark (27 catches, 429 yards, 10 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Braedon Leslie (117 tackles), Jake Johnson (87 tackles)
Sack leaders: Zach Hansen (12.5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Zach Gordon, Max Terry (2 INTs)
Felt’s Facts for Olympus High School
All-time record: 348-251-9 (61 years)
Region championships: 10 (1964, 1977, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1998, 2001 co, 2003-co, 2011, 2012 co, 2013 co)
Playoff appearances: 32
All-time playoff record: 27-29
State championships: 2 (1984, 1998)
State championship record: 2-2
Felt’s Factoid(s): Olympus holds the championship-game record for most takeaways. The Titans recovered four fumbles and intercepted seven passes (also a state title-game record) in capturing the 1984 Class 4A title over Alta.
Felt’s Facts for Springville High School
All-time record: 395-389-32 (97 years)10 comments on this story
Region championships: 22 (1922, 1926, 1929, 1933, 1938, 1954, 1976 co, 1977 co, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 co, 1988 co, 1990, 1991 co, 1992, 1993 co, 2001, 2004, 2009, 2010)
Playoff appearances: 43
All-time playoff record: 22-41
State championships: 1 (1985)
State championship record: 1-3
Felt’s Factoid(s): After leading Springville to the state championship, Scott Mitchell, the 1985 MVP, went on to a stellar career at Utah, where he still holds 25 school records. ... Springville holds the record for fewest passing yards allowed in a playoff game: The Red Devils held Sky View to minus-3 passing yards in a first-round game in 1985.