Free State High coach Bob Lisher wanted high school football to go on this week.
On Thursday, the NFL and NCAA decided the cancel their weekend games in wake of the tragedy in New York City and Washington, D.C. For a while, high school football across the nation this week seemed in jeopardy as well.
"In essence, this is a normal routine to get the kids back into," Lisher said, following Free State's 28-20 loss to Shawnee Mission South on Thursday at SM South District Stadium.
"When you do get to play, it lets the bad people know they're not going to disrupt our lives.
"We're all thinking about the tragedy and loss of life. There are friends and family that still have to deal with that."
Most of the 50 states played high school football on Friday. Some states delayed their games to Saturday and today.
"I'm glad we played," FSHS senior tight end/linebacker Jeremiah Gress said. "I feel bad for all the people in New York and Washington. Life does have to go on, but my heart goes out to them."
FSHS and LHS didn't practice on Tuesday, the day of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
LHS senior fullback-linebacker Andy Flory said maintaining focus for Friday's game against Olathe East was difficult.
"I think most people had their minds on what was going on in New York and Washington, D.C.," said Flory, following a 13-6 loss to O-East at Olathe District Activities Center. "I don't know if our mind was on football."
Patriotic scenes were popular at both SM South and Olathe East. Both schools held moments of silence before kickoffs. O-East had American flags painted in both end zones and flags placed along the front railing of ODAC's bleachers. Also, a group of Olathe East students sang "America the Beautiful" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Like Lisher, LHS coach Dirk Wedd was pleased to see the games played.
"I think it means a lot to the kids," Wedd said. "We talked about it in pregame what it means to live in this country. I feel like this was the beginning of the healing process, getting out of the house and watching TV and all that stuff was depressing. This was a good activity for a bunch of teen-agers."