Looking at the box scores from last week’s Game of the Week between Air Academy and Widefield, it was no surprise to see who emerged as the stat leaders for both squads with some of the area’s best quarterback and running back talent meeting on the same field.
But if you were at Friday’s battle to the finish between the Kadets and Gladiators, in which Widefield claimed a 28-24 victory, there were two players that stood out among the rest - despite what the score card said.
Two "warriors" who play virtually every minute of every game - Widefield’s Luis Maldonado and Air Academy’s Rylee Ollivierre.
Maldonado, a junior, and Ollivierre, a senior, both play offense, defense and on special teams, and Friday they had some of the biggest plays of the night.
Ollivierre got things going for the Kadets in the third quarter after Air Academy recovered an onside kick to start the second half. Quarterback Bo Powers found Olivierre in the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown - his longest catch of the year - to take a one-point lead over the Gladiators, and changed the momentum of the game. Later in the third, Ollivierre found a hole and broke through for a 63-yard rush for the Kadets’ biggest offensive gain of the game.
“He’s a warrior,” Air Academy coach Scott Grinde said, “but probably the best thing about him, he’s a team guy. He’s very unselfish and he will do anything he can for the team. He’s a great guy and he’s going to leave a great legacy here.”
Ollivierre had the best game of his career against Widefield with 121 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
On the other end of the field, Widefield’s Maldonado rushed into the end zone for his first varsity touchdown, then did it again seconds later on a successful 2-point conversion as the Gladiators regained the lead midway through the third quarter.
He had just 23 all-purpose yards, but he made them count.
“He’s one of those kids where I have the utmost trust and I think that’s huge,” Widefield coach Nic Olney said. “When I’m designing an offense, defense, or special teams play, whatever it is, I ask, ‘What does this do with 87 (Maldonado)?’ He plays his butt off and he competes play, after play, after play, and I’m glad we could get him a touchdown - and he did a great job on that 2-point conversion as well.”
Maldonado also had five total tackles against Air Academy.