5 Thoughts on Free State's 45-19 Win over Olathe West
Photo Credit: Greg Smith

5 Thoughts on Free State’s 45-19 Win over Olathe West

September 07, 2019

Hail Varsity was on the scene in Lawrence, Kansas, to check out Nebraska 4-star (HV Rating: 94.1) offensive line commit Turner Corcoran‍’s season opening game. His Free State Firebirds were taking on Olathe West at home. Free State won the game 45-19 in a dominating performance on both sides of the football. 

It was a choppy season opening game for both sides. The action wasn’t as crisp as either team would have liked. Even in a victory, Free State had over 100 yards in penalties on the game. 

Here are my five thoughts on the game. 

Corcoran’s a Dominant Run Blocker

Something is very clear when you watch Corcoran play: he is a dominant run blocker. He also fires off the ball well and is powerful. Once he got his hands on the opponent Friday night, they were not going anywhere. His pass protection is still a work in progress but he is putting in the work to get better in that area. 

Defense Set the Tone

Free State’s defense was swarming all night. The team was good on all levels on that side of the football, led by linebacker Malik Berry. When I saw Free State play last season, I noted that Berry was a player to watch and he looks better than last year. The Firebirds defense came out hot from the beginning of the game, forcing multiple turnovers including a huge forced fumble by linebacker Ben Miller early in the second quarter. The offense will garner a lot of headlines this season but their defense is salty. 

Offense Met Expectations

Speaking of that offense, its loaded with playmakers. Jay Taylor and Tyler Bowden were a nice one-two punch in the backfield behind a good offensive line. Stopping the run against this team will not be easy this year. The wide receivers made plays during the game as well. Senior receiver Tate Fanshier had a pair of long touchdown catches on Friday night. Quarterback Colter Maldonado also played well in the season opener. 

Player to Watch 

Greg Smith
Sophomore defensive tackle Tai Newhouse.

There is a young player to watch on Free State’s defense: Tai Newhouse. He is just a sophomore but stands at 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds. Newhouse was the man in the middle of Free State’s defense playing defensive tackle. He was quick off the ball and wreaking havoc throughout the night. It would not surprise me at all if he is a recruit that teams are after in the future. 

State Title Contender

When I saw Free State play last season I came away impressed with the team. This year, Free State exceeded my expectations despite the penalty yardage. This team has everything you need to make a deep playoff run this season. It will need to take things one game at a time but there is something special brewing in Lawrence with this team.

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