Lawrence High's football team cannot qualify for the playoffs, but the Lions can have a winning season, and that's important in the big picture.
"We looked it up," LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. "Lawrence High has had only 23 losing seasons in its history, and only five since 1940."
However, if the Lions don't defeat tepid Topeka High tonight, that negative number will climb to a half-dozen.
Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at Moore Bowl on the Washburn University campus.
Lawrence entered district play as the heavy favorite and will conclude district play with heavy hearts, thanks to that 16-0 loss to cross-city rival Free State last Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
"Free State showed up," Wedd said in reflection, "and Lawrence High didn't."
Wedd hopes the Lions have put the disappointment of the loss to the Firebirds in their rear-view mirrors.
"It was very disappointing and very frustrating," Wedd said. "On Monday, we probably didn't have a very good practice because we were feeling sorry for ourselves. It took our coaches and players awhile to get over it, but we had good practices on Tuesday and Wednesday."
Topeka High hasn't won since posting a 9-6 victory over Highland Park in its opener. Last Friday, previously winless Leavenworth edged the Trojans, 19-16. Those 16 points, however, are the most Troy has scored in a game this season.
"Topeka High is scary because they have some really good athletes," Wedd said. "Supposedly, a couple of their players are (NCAA) Division One prospects. They have potential. They just haven't done it."
Lawrence, 4-4, has done it this season when its running game has been clicking. When it hasn't, the Lions have been in trouble because their passing game has been spotty.
Lawrence relies mainly on running back Brandon McAnderson who has gained 615 yards in 117 carries and has scored 11 of the Lions' 23 touchdowns. McAnderson and offensive tackle Kenny Poverlein are the only junior starters on offense. The remainder are seniors.
A dozen of the Lions' 21 seniors start either on offense or defense.
"It's important," Wedd said, "for the seniors to leave on a good note."
Tonight's game will be the last played by the Capital City's high schools in the WU stadium. A new prep complex is expected to be completed in time for the 2002 season.
The Lawrence-Topeka series is one of the oldest in Kansas. The two schools first met on the gridiron in 1893.