In a way, Dutch Fork quarterback Derek Olenchuk has been preparing for the Silver Foxes’ Class 4A Division 1 semifinal game tonight against White Knoll for three seasons.
“From the time coach Knotts got here we were thinking that we would have this opportunity this season,” Olenchuk said. “Last year was all preparation for now.”
As a sophomore in 2011, Olenchuk posted 1,051 yards and 13 touchdowns while splitting starts and series with Clayton Little.
Now a junior shouldering the load on his own, the Silver Fox quarterback has tripled that. He has posted 3,184 yards this season, and is second in school history for career passing yardage, completions, and touchdowns, behind former Gamecock Erik Kimrey. Olenchuk already has become the Silver Foxes’ No. 1 quarterback for completion percentage and pass efficiency.
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“We knew he had it in him, that’s why he split time last year,” coach Tom Knotts said. “There’s nothing like experience and last year benefitted him tremendously. Getting more reps at quarterback and totally understanding the system have made him an outstanding quarterback. I didn’t have any question about the quarterback position this season.”
“A third year in the system does wonders, especially in the option system,” said Olenchuk, who credits his Pop Warner coaches Rob DeBoer and Todd Ellis as his earliest football mentors.
With talents like running backs Trey Gregg and Matt Colburn — the program’s single-game rushing record holder—and receiver Jordan Berry — who holds school records for career receptions, touchdowns and yards — the Silver Foxes have a lot of options.
“Being surrounded by so many weapons, it does wonders for a quarterback,” Olenchuk said. But Knotts said it’s Olenchuk who is the linchpin of the team’s offense.
“He is actually the key to doing everything because he can do so much,” Knotts said. “We can put in a new thing in a week and he gets it first and then he makes sure everyone else gets it.
“There are games that we look way different from the week before. At this point I don’t think people really know what we’re going to do because we are able to change things and that really is because of him,” he said.
As offensive coordinator, Knotts calls the plays, but he has given Olenchuk latitude to adjust on the field.
“He rarely lets us run a bad play,” Knotts said. “I actually encourage him to throw it more than what has been called. I give him the greenlight to change it.”
“He’s got to be successful when he does that, and so far he has been.”
Olenchuk began the season pushing himself and his team — for 3,000 yards and a state championship.
While he has already achieved his personal goal, two teams stand between Olenchuk’s team and the ultimate goal.