How one defensive change sparked Williamsville in a quarterfinal blowout of Olympia
STANFORD — Williamsville cruised to a 41-point halftime lead then enjoyed the fruits of a running clock in the second half as the Bullets crushed Stanford Olympia 41-21 in a Class 3A quarterfinal game on Saturday.
No. 3 Williamsville (11-1) will host No. 4 Tolono Unity (11-1) at 2 p.m. in the semifinals on Saturday. Unity knocked off No. 1 Fairbury Prairie Central (11-1) 14-0.
It will be the fourth matchup between Unity and Williamsville. The Rockets won 10-7 in the 2013 Class 3A quarterfinals and again 28-7 in last year’s quarterfinals. The Bullets won a 45-7 game in the second round of the 2014 Class 3A playoffs.
On Saturday, Williamsville’s defense came out hot despite the few snow flurries and near-freezing temperatures.
Olympia (7-5) had just 8 total yards on its first two possessions. By the time the offense got the ball for a third time, the Bullets already enjoyed a 21-0 lead thanks to a touchdown pass from Jake Seman, a Seman touchdown run and a Braddock Cates touchdown run. Cates’ TD came after Williamsville recovered an Olympia fumble on the third kickoff.
“We played them Week 4, so we tried to come up with a different game plan that would still be solid against what they do because what they do is challenging to defend,” Williamsville coach Aaron Kunz said. “Our plan kind of had some similarities but a different route. We were very aggressive blitzing, which we don’t always do, and I do think that took them by surprise.”
By the end of the first quarter, the No. 15 Spartans had just 22 yards of offense and had given away two fumbles.
“We knew if we got ahead, with an offense with what they do, getting ahead is so important because they don’t get out and throw the ball a ton,” Kunz said. “It’s a great offense but when you do get ahead, it’s one of those things where you really have an advantage.”
Seman connected with Harley Sharp for a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter for a 28-0 lead and three plays later, Williamsville linebacker Colin Ripperda stripped Olympia’s Kade Lollar and ran the fumble recovery back 60 yards for a 35-0 lead.
Later in the half, Ripperda’s only carry of the game was a 14-yard touchdown. Williamsville’s defense held first for the final 3 minutes, 10 seconds to secure the running clock for the entire second half.
“He’s so explosive, he’s such a good football player,” Kunz said of Ripperda. “We’re blitzing, they run triple option — which is a great offense — but it does take time for that handoff to go and he just blitzed the gap at the right time and he was able to take it.
“He's a really special player and he was able to take it away and go for six.”
Seman was 8-for-13 for 100 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception — just his sixth of the season. He also had nine carries for 118 yards and a touchdown. Jackson Workman caught three passes for 34 yards and one touchdown.
Olympia’s George Martin put the Spartans on the board with a 22-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. The Spartans added two more harmless touchdowns for the final score to end their deepest playoff run since a second-place finish in the 1985 3A playoffs. This was Olympia’s third playoff appearance this millennium.
Contact Ryan Mahan: 788-1546, email@example.com, Twitter.com/RyanMahanSJR.