Osceola-High Plains football finds itself in Tuesday's Class D-1 state football quarterfinals in large part due to one of the most dynamic rushing duos in the state.
Seniors Keaton Van Housen and Dylan Soule have frustrated and bewildered opponents all season, combining for 2,958 yards and 47 touchdowns. According to MaxPreps.com, and not all programs enter stats, but for those that do, Van Housen leads 8-player football with 1,681 while Soule is in 12th.
Though both have put up monster numbers this season, their running styles are quite different. Appropriately, it's a thunder and lightning approach for a duo that can run through or past defenses.
Soule is the thunder part of the equation.
"Dylan is a lot more physical than I am," Van Housen said. "He's definitely carrying four people on the ground when he's carrying the ball."
Van Housen gives opponents fits when in the open field, accounting for the lightning portion of the equation.
"Keaton is a very pretty runner," Soule said. "He definitely will put his head down when he needs to, but in open field, he's one of the hardest kids to take down, I think, in the state."
Van Housen and Soule were also both quick to credit their offensive line as a huge contributing factor in their success.
"I don't think we'd have these stats without our offensive line," Soule said. "They've been busting their butt, and so have we. I think it's great to have two rushers of our caliber."
Both runners are also extremely sure-handed, having only three fumbles on 369 rushing attempts between the two.
Van Housen and Soule have been playing together since the sixth grade and are hoping to finish their high school careers with a bang.
"These kids have been together since they've been little peanuts," co-head coach Greg Wood said. "They're extremely competitive whether it is summer baseball, basketball, track, wrestling it doesn't matter. They love to compete and they bring that every day. It's awesome to have those kinds of personalities."
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This is also just the second year of the Osceola and High Plains co-op, but the group that makes up the varsity squad played together in middle school, including an undefeated season when the current seniors were in eighth grade.
Last season, OHP went 5-5 with a loss to Norfolk Lutheran-Northeast in the second round of the playoffs.
Osceola-High Plains lost three seniors off of that squad, only one of which started on a regular basis.
"I knew the potential was there just based on what we did last year," Wood said. "We knew we had a majority of the team coming back and we're excited for that and knew good things were going to happen."
The Stormdogs had to overcome a rough start to the season when they opened 1-2 with losses to Fullerton and Ravenna.
"It was a shock to look at our record at one point and think, 'How the heck did we get to this point?'" Soule said. "We put our head down through adversity and kept grinding and now we're sitting at the spot we are now."
After a wins over Elkhorn Valley and Creighton, Osceola-High Plains is just two more away from playing at Memorial Stadium.
"That's definitely the goal right now," Van Housen said. "We've got eight teams left. It's an honor."
The next game might be the biggest challenge yet for Osceola-High Plains, which takes on D-1 No.1 Howells-Dodge (8-0) on Tuesday in 6 p.m. home contest in Osceola.
Howells-Dodge has a dynamic player of its own in sophomore Levi Belina, also a 1,000-yard rusher.
"We have to match physicality," Wood said about the match up with Howells-Dodge. "You watch them on the film, it's like a mirror-image of us. They like to line up in the I and bring it. It's their tradition. That's what they do. It's about the Jimmies and the Joes. We're really just going to have to step up and bring it and make sure we match their physicality and not back down."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com