Five recent Lawrence High graduates -- Matt Black, Nate Coffman, Bryce Crady, Nick Jamison and Jon Penny -- will play tonight for Kansas in the Coca-Cola Metro Classic football game.
Kickoff for the all-star event, featuring some of the best players in the Kansas City metro area, is 7:30 p.m. at Shawnee Mission South Stadium in Overland Park.
"The coaches have been impressed with the work ethic and aggressiveness of the Lawrence High players," LHS coach Dick Purdy said.
For Crady, the contest will mark his final football game.
"It's been real tough," the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Crady said about closing his career. "I had put football out of my mind, and then being out there practicing brought it all back. It's been tough adjusting to playing with guys who've been your rivals."
Crady, primarily a defensive end for the Lions, will play outside linebacker for the Kansas squad.
"There's a lot more pass coverage involved," Crady said.
Crady, a valedictorian at LHS, will attend Kansas University and major in architectural engineering. Earlier this year, Crady was named a top scholar-athlete by the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Assn. The GKCFCA selected the all-star teams, and Crady received a $1,000 scholarship from the organization.
Coffman's football career is also winding down. Next Wednesday, he will leave for a 13-day trip to Australia, where he'll play in the Down Under Bowl for his final football game.
"It's kind of sad," said Coffman, a 5-7, 135-pound defensive back. "It's nice to have these last two opportunities to play. I kind of hate to give it up."
Coffman will attend Kansas State and major in engineering.
For Penny, the Metro game is the first of three all-star appearances.
"It's a football summer," said Penny, a 6-1, 220-pound linebacker who will walk on at Nebraska.
Penny, also a member of the GKCFCA's scholar-athlete team, will join Coffman in Australia. On July 26, Penny will play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl in Hays.
Black, a 5-8, 155-pounder, will play defensive back for the Kansas all-stars. He was Lawrence's leading rusher with 735 yards last year.
"You have to fun with this because it is a special honor, but we're also from Lawrence High so we have to take football seriously," said Black, an Emporia State signee.
Jamison, a 6-1, 210-pound defensive lineman, also wants to win.
"This is a pretty serious game," said Jamison, a Fort Scott Communcity College signee. "I've dreamed about being in the Metro Classic since I was a sophomore."
Number game: Jersey numbers for Lawrence's players will be: Penny (3), Black (25), Jamison (72), Crady (84) and Coffman (85).
Penny admitted he'd look strange playing inside linebacker wearing No. 3 after being No. 44 for the Lions.
"Nobody else is No. 44, so I don't know why I'm No. 3," Penny said.
Coffman's number is also a big change. He wore No. 11 for the Lions.
Coaching connections: LHS assistant Dirk Wedd is coaching the offensive linemen for Kansas. He is one of four Kansas coaches with ties to Purdy. Rick Clark, the Kansas head coach, played for Purdy at Chanute in the 1960s. Assistants Scott Sherman and John Reichart later played for Purdy at SM West.
KU signees: Two Kansas University football signees -- Brandon Wier and Matt Sullivan -- will play tonight. Wier is a defensive back from Olathe North, the Class 6A state champion. Matt Sullivan, a quarterback from Excelsior Springs, Mo., will play for the Missouri team.
Ticket info: Admission is $5 for adults. Junior high students and younger will be admitted free.
Series note: Kansas holds a 3-2 advantage in the all-star series. Last year, Missouri won, 13-10. Kansas scored all 10 of its points in the second quarter.