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Archive for Thursday, February 8, 1996

T ENSURE STATE CROWNS

February 8, 1996

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When eight Lawrence High football players signed their national letters of intent on Wednesday, none jotted their name with an NCAA Div. I program.

Seven signed with junior colleges and the other with Div. II Washburn.

Considering all the attention Lawrence receives for being the biggest school in Kansas and its number of state championships, outsiders probably think the Lions win with D-I talent year in and year out.

That hasn't been the case, though.

In the 1990s, Lawrence has produced just two players who signed with Div. I football programs -- running back Michael Cosey (class of '92) and linebacker Jason Thoren (class of '94) -- while winning five state championships and finishing runner-up the other year.

Translation: You can win state championships without D-I talent.

Thoren has two more years left at Kansas University after signing with the Jayhawks while in high school. Cosey has one more year left at Southwest Missouri State after stints at Fort Scott Community College and Texas Tech.

Football is a numbers game and a couple of major-college players on one team won't always beat a good, hard-nosed team.

"Football is a 25- to 35-man game," LHS head coach Dick Purdy said. "You know how coyotes hunt down a deer. They're out-talented all the way. They just stay with it and go at them in packs and outnumber them."

The Lions were coyotes in their state semifinal game when Lawrence feasted on highly-touted, unbeaten Olathe North, 32-7, on a snow-covered field. Talk of that 25-point setback still hasn't thawed in Olathe.

The inch of snow must have been enough to offset the mighty Eagles, who had three players regarded as D-I talent.

O-North running back Arland Bruce and lineman Bobby Schmidt signed with Kansas University on Wednesday. Quarterback Jeremy Milne has agreed to attend Kansas State before receiving a scholarship in '97.

Two other Eagle players signed with Div. II programs, impressive considering O-North is the 12th largest school in the state with about 700 fewer students than Lawrence.

"The bigger school always has the advantage," Purdy said. "You have more players to pick from. You have enough talent that you can rest your No. 1 players and they don't have to play the whole way."

Derby, a state finalist three consecutive years, is similar to Lawrence. The Panthers keep winning without superstars.

Derby, the fifth-largest school, had three players sign letters on Wednesday. All three signed with Hutchinson Community College.

Lawrence's all-state players -- lineman Lee Myers and running back Thomas Daniels -- signed with Washburn and Hutchinson, respectively. Daniels received attention from KU but sub-par grades would have left him ineligible that first year.

Myers, 6-foot-1, 215, was selected as the top lineman in the Kansas City area. However, his size turned off major colleges.

"I think Lee Myers outplayed everybody he played against at 215 pounds," Purdy said. "Some of the guys he bested are going D-I, but at the high school level that can happen."

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