by Daniel Olsen | On Friday night in Salt Lake City, the first half couldn’t have been any better for the visiting Olympus Titans or any worse for the hosting Highland Rams. The visitors cruised to a 33-0 lead after the first half and held on for a 40-24 victory.
Two of the big plays that set the tone for the game were the two rushing touchdowns. The first score of the game was a 73-yard run from Peyton Rice. Johnny Frank also had a 34-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter to extend the lead to 20-0. This was largely due to adjustments on the made by the Olympus Offensive Line Coach, Ryan Reynolds.
“Our offensive line had been struggling the last couple of weeks,” said Coach Reynolds. “We switched some things and played some kids at different spots up front. We really focused on just simplifying our offense and perfecting our base plays. We challenged our boys up front to match the physicality of Highland knowing that they are big and physical. I’m really happy with how we responded.”
The Titans responded well as they were firing on all cylinders on offense and shutting out their opponent on defense. This is tough to do in any rivalry game. The play of the game that really made the wheels come off for Highland was a 60-yard punt return touchdown by John Schlendorf.
“I was patient at first then saw a seam and took it to the house,” said Schlendorf. “My teammates threw me some great blocks.”
Schlendorf received even higher praise from his coaching staff for the play. As mentioned in our preview, the Olympus coaching staff has raved about his athleticism but he also showed his high football IQ on this play.
“John is just a special kid,” said Coach Reynolds. “This is either his 2nd or 3rd return for a TD this year. He has such a great field vision. It was a return right, blocking was there, John stiff-armed a couple kids on our sideline and took it to the house.”
Schlendorf moved from New Jersey and has acclimated well to his new high school team. He has been a highlight for them on a routine basis.
“The transition has been very smooth,” said Schlendorf. “Of course I miss my boys in Jersey, but everyone at Olympus is great and it’s a family.”
Olympus piled on one more touchdown to take a five possession lead into halftime. The only blemishes for the Titans in the first half were two missed PATs from their kicker.
In the second half, Olympus added their last touchdown of the game on a 23-yard pass from quarterback Tommy Hogan to Spencer Tagge. Hogan finished with three passing touchdowns on the night.
Highland would not go down without a fight. They scored 24 unanswered points in the final 18 minutes as they converted all three two point conversion attempts. It was a little too late for a comeback but it’s something the Rams can build on for the next game.
Olympus will improve to 3-3 on the season after a pivotal rivalry game for their region title hopes. After a tough loss to Brighton last week, it was much needed.
“Beating a good quality rival is always a big confidence booster for us,” said Coach Reynolds. “Highland is a great team and they are very well coached. They have had some tough games, but we all know that they are better than what their record shows. I believe tonight we were really able to figure out things out offensively and get our swagger back. We need to ride this confidence into next week against a good West Jordan team.”
Highland falls to 2-4 and will look to turn their season around after a tough Homecoming loss. They have a bye week and will then head to Skyline to take on the Eagles on October 2nd.
Featured image via Olympus High School.