Archive for Tuesday, October 12, 1999


October 12, 1999


Maybe in the case of Free State High's football team, the best offense is a good defense.

Free State's defenders grabbed four of their team-record five interceptions and tossed a shutout in the second half of Thursday's 28-7 victory over Shawnee Mission West. The 'D' more than made up for an offense that totaled just 32 yards the final two quarters.

"Our secondary is doing a little bit better job of being where they're supposed to be and breaking on the ball," FSHS coach Bob Lisher said. "Early on, at times, we'd kind of sit there, let the guy catch the ball and then make the tackle. Now we're breaking on the ball trying to understand the fact that it's our ball when it's up in the air, too."

Free State seniors Tay Ogunnowo and Brian Erb each had interceptions in the end zone to stymie SM West's first two drives of the second half.

Erb, who became the first Firebird with two INTs in the same game, also had a fumble recovery on the kickoff after Free State gained a 14-7 advantage with 8:54 remaining in the second quarter.

"He did a great job of being in the right place at the right time Friday night with those two interceptions and he broke up quite a few passes," Lisher said. "He recovered that fumble and that gave us an opportunity to go up 21-7."

One of the reasons for the Firebirds' success against the Vikings was a scheme designed by defensive coordinator Mike Hill.

"Defensively, I was extremely pleased," Lisher said. "Again, we designed our defense to stop the pass. That left us a little bit susceptible to the running game last week."

Lisher cited senior defensive tackles Thomas Champion and Wayne Cobb for strong play.

After watching films, Lisher also was happy with the line on the other side of the ball.

"I thought our offensive line played extremely well," Lisher said. "Our backs ran great. Chris Wheatley and Jake Lawrence both hit the holes hard and quick. Nate (Vail) did a great job of reading the option."

Next for Free State is its first district game Friday night at Leavenworth. Kickoff is 6 p.m. at Abeles Field.

Take it easy: One of the benefits of the Thursday night game was that the Firebirds were able to relax last weekend.

"We watched films Friday and took the weekend off to let the kids clear their minds a little bit and heal up a little," Lisher said. "It was kind of nice having a little bit of break there. You could tell there was a little more snap in the kids' legs today (Monday)."

Two-time recipient: Lisher has been named the Kansas City Chiefs' high school coach of the week for last week's victory. It is the second time he has earned the honor, also being named the inaugural winner after Free State's win over Olathe North last season.

"It's a tribute to the team," Lisher said. "It's a tribute to the way they showed up ready to play Friday night and went out and earned a victory over a 5-0 team. It's just a tribute to our assistant coaches and the players."

Injury update: Lisher said the only player who missed practice Monday was junior back-up quarterback Dave Herrera, who reaggravated his hyperextended toe in the junior varsity game Saturday.

-- Robert Sinclair's phone message number is 832-7185. His e-mail address is

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