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Season Preview: Olathe West

By Jason Lamb, 810 Varsity, 07/25/22, 3:00PM CDT

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Owls flight upwards continues in 2022

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Olathe West is entering its fifth season of varsity football, making it one of the newest programs in the metro. The Owls have learned to fly over the previous three seasons: finishing 6-4 in 2019, 5-4 in 2020, and winning a school-record seven games last season (7-3).

“We’ve concentrated on what's important to building a program,” says sixth year Head Coach TJ O’Neill. “The biggest thing was catching up physically. We’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room. Now we feel like we have a full class of seniors every year.”

The 2022 Owls will be led by senior quarterback Mason McGavran. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound dual-threat QB was a second team All-Sunflower League selection in 2021 after passing for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushing for 1,250 yards and 14 more scores.

“He was really our leader on offense last year. First, he was an explosive runner, and now he‘s more familiar with our passing game and has developed a total understanding of our offense,” O’Neill said.

McGavran will work behind the most experienced unit on the field. First team All-Sunflower League picks Cooper Zwart (6-foot-4, 290 left tackle) and Dylan Birge (6-foot-2, 270 left guard) return along with fellow starters center Thomas Clark (6-foot-1, 250 pounds) and right guard Michael Spritzer (5-foot-11, 250).

The hole at running back left by the graduation of workhorse Anthony Favrow will be filled by senior Vince Gatschett (6-foot, 175).

“In our last regular season game last season against Shawnee Mission East, when Favrow was hurt, we drove the ball down the field with Gatschett and he scored the go-ahead touchdown,” O’Neill said. “We’re really excited about some of our new skill position players, and we know they will make huge improvements from week to week.”

On the defensive side, Olathe West returns five starters, led by honorable mention All-League selections Sean Swearingen (6-foot-1, 165 defensive back), Brandon Roupsouay (5-foot-8, 170 outside linebacker), and Tyler Crowell (6-foot-4, 220 defensive end). O’Neill adds he expects a breakout year from junior defensive end Sam Ables (6-foot-1, 230). Senior linebacker Cooper Novacek also returns after suffering a season-ending injury in the preseason a year ago.

“Defensively, every day will be a learning opportunity as we will have a lot of newcomers,” O’Neill said. “We fully expect this group to come together and be a great unit during playoff time.”

The Owls open the always tough Sunflower League schedule September 2nd at Free State, then host Lawrence High in their September 8th home opener. The Firebirds and Chesty Lions made deep playoff runs last season.

“Our league is always difficult from top to bottom,” O’Neill said. “I think it’s great. It will let us know where we’re at right away.”

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