YSI better be Y2K compliant for another Free State High-Lawrence High boys soccer showdown.
The two city schools will clash at 7 tonight at Youth Sports Inc. fields.
"I try to tell the team it's not the only game of the season, but it's definitely our biggest one," LHS sophomore striker Joey Kelly said. "We try to get up for it. We've beaten Free State every year we've played them and we're going to try to keep it that way."
LHS (0-6) is 2-0 in the intracity series. The Lions, though, have posted a 0-10-1 record since last year's 3-0 victory over the Firebirds.
Free State (1-8) is coming off its first victory of the season and fourth in school history -- a 3-1 decision over Shawnee Mission West.
"Coach (Jason Pendleton) seems to think it's another game," said Firebird midfielder Pat Watkins, who scored the go-ahead goal against SM West. "There's a certain excitement that surrounds the game. Everybody knows about it. I'm sure there will be a huge crowd and we hope to continue a winning streak."
Pendleton, well aware of the significance of tonight's game, wants the Firebirds to treat the Lions like any other opponent.
"I want a victory regardless of who we play," the first-year Firebird coach said. "These seniors have lost to Lawrence High twice. They want to win. A lot of these kids are going to live in this town the rest of their lives.
"When you have as few victories as we do in our history and have an opportunity to play an intracity rivalry, that's huge. We've never won two games in a row. That in itself is a huge opportunity for us. We'll be up for it."
LHS coach Chris Bertrand is 2-0 against Free State.
"All the kids look forward to it," Bertrand said. "It's a good thing for the town. It should probably be the closest game we've had. We're pretty much equal right now. I'm excited to be a part of it."
LHS and FSHS will play tonight under the newly installed lights.
"The kids love it," Bertrand said. "It adds so much to the atmosphere and there's so much more support."
LHS will be without two players -- Michael Chatman and Chris Kelley -- for red cards received in Tuesday's 4-0 loss to Olathe East. FSHS will be minus Jesse Ens, who received a red card in the victory over SM West on Tuesday.
In Lawrence's 3-0 victory over Free State last year, Jon Welch scored twice and Clint Akerberg, now a senior, scored the Lions' other goal.
-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is email@example.com