Haskell Stadium's scoreboard operator better be in shape and have a calculator handy tonight when Lawrence High plays host to high-scoring Olathe South in the Lions' homecoming contest.
O-South (4-1) averages 51.6 points a game and 419.2 yards of total offense. The Falcons have scored more than 50 points three times and are coming off last week's 76-16 romp of Leavenworth in which they scored 35 points in the first quarter and led 56-0 at halftime before playing reserves in the second half. Heck, O-South's lone loss was a 56-45 setback to Free State four weeks ago.
"They have such great speed and they have that run-and-shoot offense," LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. "The personnel matches their offense. What concerns us more than anything else is the team speed and the athletes at the skill position. It's tough for us to match up."
Kickoff for the LHS-South contest is 7:30 p.m. A replay of the game will be shown on cable channel 6 at 10:30 tonight.
The Lions (1-4) have lost four in a row since opening with a victory over Shawnee Mission North. Meanwhile, O-South has been steamrolling through the league.
O-South's Travis Jackson, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior, is the top quarterback in the Sunflower League. He has completed 59 of 112 passes (52.7 percent) for 1,071 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Jackson spent last season as backup to three-year starter Zach Dyer, now a freshman on Kansas University's football team.
"He's probably not as mobile as Dyer, but he's got a real strong arm," Wedd said of Jackson.
Jackson quarterbacked O-South's sophomore and junior varsity teams last year.
"What happened for Travis last year was the best-case scenario," second-year South coach Mark Littrell said. "He got to play two games a week, got a lot of reps doing our offense. It helped in reading coverages and he worked hard in the offseason."
Jackson's main targets are junior Adam Jensen (11 receptions, 247 yards, one touchdown) and senior Ky O'Dell (14 catches for 178 yards, 3 touchdowns).
Senior running back Nate Proctor ranks fourth in the league with 495 rushing yards. He has 11 TD runs.
O-South appears to be on a collision course with top-ranked Olathe North for a district showdown on Oct. 22.
"We haven't done anything yet," Littrell said. "We have the tough part of our schedule coming up."
LHS is coming off a hard-fought 28-21 loss to O-North in which Lion quarterback Bryce McMichael brooke loose for a career-high 149 rushing yards.
"I've been impressed with Lawrence all year," Littrell said. "They've had some tough breaks in some games. I think they're playing hard. They run that offense very well and their quarterback is a good athlete."
Defensively, South ranks eighth in the league for yards allowed (295.8 per game).
"We've improved a lot since that fiasco (against Free State)," said Littrell, whose Falcons have outscored their last three opponents 167-29.
Wedd hopes the Lions are able to defuse O-South's offense, especially with a large crowd expected and district starting next week.
"It's homecoming," Wedd said. "You want to win it for the seniors and the school. Homecoming dances aren't a very good time after a defeat. We need a good taste in our mouth going into district."
Notes: Olathe South's Josh Umphrey (36.6 yard average) and Lawrence's Jason Fender (35.8) rank 1-2 in punting for the Sunflower League. ... LHS leads 10-2 in the series and has never lost to the Falcons at Haskell. ... O-South won last year's meeting 21-13 for its first victory over the Lions since 1989, snapping a nine-game skid. ... LHS sophomore strong safety Rob Scott, who leads the Lions with two interceptions, is expected back in the lineup after missing the past two games with a shoulder injury. LHS junior backup quarterback Devon McAnderson may see limited action tonight after missing three games because of a hip injury. Senior running back Kingsley Uwadia (ankle sprain) is questionable for tonight. ... Today's LHS homecoming parade will start at 2:30 p.m. at South Park on Massachusetts and head south before reaching the high school.
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