What a week for Lawrence High senior J.D. Loudabarger.
Loudabarger signed a national letter of intent on Monday to play baseball at Kansas State. On Saturday, he quarterbacked the Lions to a 20-0 victory over Derby in the Class 6A state football championship at Kansas University's Memorial Stadium.
"This is definitely the way I wanted to go out," said the 5-10, 157-pound Loudabarger, capping his football career with 11 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown run.
Loudabarger, a safety, also intercepted two passes in the end zone to help the Lions secure their third shutout of the season and second of the state playoffs.
Also, credit Loudabarger with a fumble recovery. Upon the Lions' return to the high school, Loudabarger found head coach Dick Purdy's coveted, baby-blue hat left on the bus and wore the head gear while congratulating his teammates as they walked through the door leading to the locker room.
Mostly, Loudabarger lauded his offensive line.
"The line just did a great job and made it easy for me to make my reads on the option," said Loudabarger, running the option to perfection. "They did so well knocking out the guard. Give all the credit to the line. The only reason we did any good at all was because of the linemen."
The line of center Shane Wedd, guards Pat Mason and Brett Romme, and tackles Lee Myers and Willie McKinnis accommodated the speed of tailback Thomas Daniels.
Daniels finished with 22 carries and a career-high 272 rushing yards -- a record for a 6A title game -- and TD runs of 62 and 19 yards.
"The weather was nice, the line was getting their job done and the coaches were making the right calls," said Daniels, finishing the season with 1,617 yards while averaging 10.4 yards a carry.
The defense also got the job done. Derby generated 180 yards total offense -- 94 passing and 86 rushing.
Myers credited the second unit for preparing the Lions for their run for the state title -- the 10th in school history.
"Our bench did a great job," Myers said. "The guys we work with in practice are great players and could be starting at a lot of other schools."
The only school to beat Lawrence in 1995 was Olathe North. The Lions lost, 32-19, to the Eagles in the second week before closing the season with 10 consecutive victories to finish 11-1, including a semifinal victory over O-North on Nov. 10.
"We got better and better all year," LHS senior fullback Garrett Attig said. "We were down the second week. From then on out, we had our minds set."
The Lions have been set on the title game 10 consecutive years. They've left winners eight times, including five since Purdy's arrival in '90.
"I sure hope we'll be back," Purdy said. "If we can get back next year, God willing, it'd be great."