Archive for Tuesday, November 10, 1998

Free State football still improving

November 10, 1998

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It's one thing to score five touchdowns in a game. It's quite another thing to score five long touchdowns in a game.

Free State had scoring runs of 69, 55 and 30 yards and touchdown passes of 56 and 43 yards in Friday night's 35-24 victory over Shawnee Mission West.

All told, 253 of the Firebirds' 379 total yards came on scoring plays (66.8 percent) and the average score went for 50.6 yards.

Free State coach Bob Lisher was unfazed by the eye-popping numbers.

``Many times when I was coaching at Lawrence High we had offenses that could do the same thing,'' Lisher said. ``When you have a lot of people playing hard, good things are going to happen. Right now we have a lot of people playing hard.''

While it may have been Jake Lawrence, Chris Wheatley, Jeff Dougherty and Dane Johnson who actually scored -- Lawrence twice -- Lisher said they aren't the only ones who deserve credit for the win.

``It starts up front with our offensive line executing, blocking hard and playing well. But it's more than that,'' Lisher said. ``We have receivers that are hustling their tails off downfield to make blocks. Our receivers are giving a great effort downfield as well on their blocks.

``Then when you couple in the speed factor, when we get into the secondary we have enough speed to make some things happen.''

Free State's starting line on Friday was senior left tackle Jesse Franchuk, senior left guard Kyle Evans, junior center Thomas Champion, junior right guard Jimmy Hahn and junior right tackle Wayne Cobb. Senior center Paul Cross also logged playing time.

Behind the O-line, Lawrence continued his torrid pace. He registered his third 100-yard performance and scored his sixth and seventh TDs. The junior fullback is fourth in the Sunflower League in both scoring and rushing.

Free State senior quarterback Matt Heider is ranked No. 1 in the league for both combined offense and passing.

``I just think the kids are showing they want to have a successful program from the seniors on down and they're working very hard,'' Lisher said. ``And I'm not just giving them lip service. They're seriously working hard to get some success and recognition over here.''

Long week: Having already had a short practice week because of a Thursday night game, this week the Firebirds have the benefit of an extra practice day. Free State plays host to Leavenworth in a district game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Haskell Stadium.

``We have to adjust the schedule once again,'' Lisher said. ``The one thing high school coaches like is consistency, get into a routine. The kids like that routine because they know what to expect. When it's a short week followed by a long week it kind of changes the routine up for everybody.''

Injury update: Lisher said the only injuries of note from Friday's win are three Firebirds who have been diagnosed with first degree medial collateral ligament sprains in their knees -- junior fullback Brian Erb, junior fullback Jeff Frenya, and Franchuk.

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