SALT LAKE CITY — Olympus has had its doubters all season.
While other 5A teams racked up big wins against better competition, Olympus quietly went about its business crushing opponents regardless of their record. Many believed, however, that once Olympus finally squared off against a formidable foe in the playoffs its dominance would cease.
That most definitely was not the case on Friday night against No. 1 Corner Canyon in the 5A semifinals.
Even though Olympus ultimately came up short as Corner Canyon scored late to escape with the 20-15 victory, the Titans’ defense was every bit as good as advertised.
“We had a lot of confidence going into this defensively. Brandon Burt has been the defensive coordinator as long as I’ve been here, he has one of the best minds for defense,” said Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead.
Corner Canyon came into the game with the top scoring offense in 5A averaging 49.9 ppg, but Olympus had the perfect game plan to frustrate the Chargers’ potent passing game.
It recorded four sacks and grabbed three interceptions as it made things difficult for Corner Canyon quarterback Cole Hagen all night. The run defense also got a big fourth down stop at the 2-yard line midway through the third quarter to keep the lead at 15-14.
“We were confident going into this game. I think we did a good job,” said Olympus’ Noah Bennee, who recorded three interceptions for the Titans.
Holding Corner Canyon to a season-low 20 points wasn’t quite enough though as Olympus’ offense had a few too many miscues in the second half.
Leading 15-14 at the half, Olympus fumbled the ball on the first offensive play of the third quarter. The defense came up with the goal line stop to preserve the lead, but Olympus fumbled the ball on its next offensive series as well.
Yet again, the Oly defense came up with a stop as Bennee recorded his third interception of the game in piling onto Corner Canyon’s offensive woes.Comment on this story
In the fourth quarter, Olympus’ offense found a bit of rhythm with a 10-play, 51-yard drive, but it stalled at the Corner Canyon 20 on a fourth down run that went just one yard.
Of all the plays, that short run is the one Olympus would love to have back. Corner Canyon regained possession with 6:37 left in the game and promptly ran it straight at Olympus’ defense, eventually capping the 12-play, 80-yard drive with the go-ahead touchdown.
“What a battle for a semifinal. What the kids did this year we’re just so proud. This will sting, but what these kids accomplished is great,” said Whitehead, whose team finished the season with a 12-1 record.