It took Hillcrest less than four minutes to dig itself a hole big enough to make thoughts of the disastrous 2007 season creep into its players' minds. It took four quarters of all-out-effort football to make it forget it.
After Olympus jumped out to a 14-point lead less than four minutes into the 2008 season opening endowment game, Hillcrest fought its way back into the contest with stifling defense and play-making offense. The Huskies used two late fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away for a 31-20 win over the Titans.
"We all remembered last year," said quarterback Kolby Koplin, who threw for one score and rushed for two more, "and we didn't want to start out like that." We used our experience to not panic and just tell everyone, 'it's going to be all right. We can do this.' We just started playing the way we knew we were capable, and good things started to happen because of it."
Olympus took the quick two-score lead after scoring on its opening drive it took a little luck as Maurice Maxwell took a slant pass at the 13 yard line and fumbled the ball into the end zone before O.J. Visser made the recovery and then scored again on a short pass from Spencer Harris to Pat Brown after stopping Hillcrest's fake punt attempt on its own 19 yard line. It appeared things might get ugly, but the Huskies found something inside and began to play inspired football.
"We couldn't have started any worse," said coach Kirk Merhish. "We were a little flat and they came out fired up, but I was proud of the way the guys responded. It would have been easy for them to hang their heads and say, 'here we go again,' but they didn't."
One thing that happened was the Huskies found a pass rush against the Olympus spread attack. Colby Brklacich in particular began wreaking havoc in the backfield. He finished the game with four sacks and a forced fumble to spark the defense, and Hillcrest finished with eight sacks on the night.
"Colby is a heck of an athlete and is coming off an injury, so I am not sure we have seen his best, yet," added Merhish.
Hillcrest got a spark because of its playmakers. Koplin's scrambling ability gave Olympus fits. He finished with 101 yards rushing and the two touchdowns. Anthony Biven, who had 63 second-half yards on the ground and a touchdown, had some great plays, and Mike Callahan caught a screen pass on the Hillcrest go-ahead drive on third and 10 and rambled 37 yards to put the Huskies in position to score."We want to improve each week and win some games," Koplin said. "We would love to make the playoffs, but we just need to take care of business on the field.