When Kevin Olsen tweeted a picture of himself getting taped at 5 p.m. the story between Paramus and Wayne Hills instantly became the return of the Miami-bound signal caller to the Patriots offense.
However by the time that tape was being cut off it was Olsen’s counterpart Tyler Smith and Paramus’ first-ever win over Wayne Hills that became the story. The sophomore outdueled the heavily recruited gunslinger and even if only for a night, the 5-foot-6 155-pound Smith was the better quarterback in a 24-17 win.
“He’s an unbelievable competitor, has been since rec league football. He hates to lose and doesn’t listen to what anyone has to say about him or his size, he just plays his game. As a coaching staff, heck as a fan of sports you have to love that,” said Sabella.
After confusion marked an opening drive three and out for Wayne Hills, Smith marched the Spartans down the field and capped Paramus’ opening drive with a 11-yard TD strike to Josh Rollins.
The Patriots next drive wouldn’t look much better as on the third play Olsen threw a ball over the middle with no one home and linebacker Matt Tozzi hauled it in. An unsportsmanlike penalty against Hills’ set Paramus up first and ten at the Patriots 13.
“Our defense played extremely well and we got some really good pressure tonight which is the key against a guy who if he has a chance to sit back there can really eat you up. Really proud of the guys up front,” Sabella said.
Three plays later it was Smith finding an open wideout in paydirt again; this time it was Darius House, and his 2-yard touchdown put Paramus up two scores only seven minutes into the game.
“We felt really good at that point and I think it gave us the realization and confidence that we could win,” Smith said of his team. “We also knew though that things were far from over and that [Olsen] and their offense would get in a groove eventually.”
After a three and out by the offense Wayne Hills’ defense, it seemed like the tide may be turning by getting a stop to get the ball back in Olsen’s hands. With the rust seemingly off No. 19 orchestrated a much-needed drive for the Patriots that culminated in a perfectly thrown 29-yard TD to Erik Moskal.
The offense looked to be humming, moving the ball on the very next drive before a miscommunication between Olsen and wideout Jake VanPeenen led to an easy pick Darius House.
“We recognized their hitch signal and I was able to jump the route,” House explained. “Just bummed I got caught be the quarterback!”
Olsen would make a great play to chase down House to keep him out of the endzone and after a huge stand by the Pats D Olsen’s husle play ended up being a big one.
The feeling was short lived for Hills though -- Olsen would roll out in the shadow of his own goal post and after the Spartans got a hold of him the senior had no choice but to try a desperate heave that resulted in an intentional grounding call and a safety for Paramus.
Inspired by the effort of its defense to hold Paramus without points again, Wayne Hills O would kick it into gear in the third quarter. On the back of Robbie Schiller’s hard running Hills would march the ball down field.
An even mix of run and play action had the Sparatans guessing and while looking in the backfield for the pass Paramus’ defense was burned by Christian Rodriguez for a 21-yard rushing strike that gave Hills its first lead of the night at 17-16.
Just over five minutes showing on the clock, it was time for a signature drive and that’s just what Smith and the Spartan offense delivered. Josh Rollins had a huge game for Paramus and the 30-yard hookup from Smith and Rollins got things rolling for Paramus.
A fourth and eight with 4:22 left presented an interesting decision for head coach Dan Sabella. Roll the dice near midfield and risk giving Olsen the ball with great field position or punt. Sabella trusted his offense and Smith made a smart man out of him, picking up a crucial first down with a breathtaking scramble and dive for the marker that just barely made it to the sticks.
“That’s a tough call,” admitted Sabella, “there’s certain times to map and plan things out and go by the books but there are certain scenarios especially in a close game like that where it’s going to be your gut instinct. We have confidence in Tyler and the offense and we also didn’t want to give it back to their offense because they had started to run it well and our guys up front don’t sub out so I felt that was our opportunity to seize the game.
Two plays later House would break open down the sideline and Smith led him perfectly for a 34-yard strike and a potential game-clinching score. With over three minutes on the clock there was still work to be done by the Spartan defense to preserve the win and tackle Joey Binns and the front seven rose to the occasion.
“In my time playing here we’ve never beaten Wayne Hills, I don’t know if we’ve ever beaten them and to know with one good drive we could do it. Well, there was no way we were getting scored on,” Binns said.
Binns and crew had Olsen under duress most of the game and on the last drive it seemed like there were more than 11 on the field for Paramus. Two sacks backed Hills up into third and long and Stephen Regalbuto’s third interception of the season sealed the win.
“I think it’s the best feeling you could ever have following a regular season win,” said Binns. “This wasn’t for any trophy but we wanted this so bad and to see a small guy like [Tyler] go out there and outduel a bid D1 quarterback, it shows a lot of heart man.”
After throwing just two TD’s through seven games Smith more than doubled his season total by chucking three touchdowns in the win, a win that locked up the Colonial division title for his Spartans.
“I have a huge amount of respect for Wayne Hills and for [Olsen], I’m definitely not a better player than him and probably never will be, but I think I showed people it doesn’t matter how big you are, it doesn’t matter how old you are or how strong your arm is, it’s about desire. That want to win.”
Contact John Quirk at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter @Quirkmedia