It's Senior Night for Lawrence High's football team, but tonight almost certainly won't be the Lions' last game at Haskell Stadium this season.
If the potent Lions knock off punchless Topeka High tonight in their last district game, they'll be assured of another home game next Friday night in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
But first, the Lions (6-2) have to dispose of the Trojans (1-7).
"Beating Lawrence can make their season," Lions' coach Dirk Wedd said. "If we pat ourselves on the back, we could be embarrassed."
Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus.
Mostly this fall the Lions have been embarrassing opponents with the most productive 1-2 running punch in school history.
Brandon McAnderson, a 6-foot, 210-pound senior, has moved into fourth place on the school's all-time single-season rushing list with 1,384 yards. McAnderson needs just 18 yards to move into third place, and could challenge Michael Cosey's school record of 1,854 yards (1991) depending on how far the Lions go in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Chris Fulton, 6-1, 180-pound senior, has been playing "Mr. Outside" to McAnderson's "Mr. Inside" and has compiled 1,048 yards, making it the first time two Lawrence High ball-carriers ever have rushed for more than 1,000 yards in the same season.
Lawrence is sitting pretty in its district with wins over Topeka Washburn Rural and Free State. The Lions already are assured of a playoff berth, but must win tonight in order to secure a home game next week.
Topeka High is the only team other than Free State to win a district game from the Lions since the state playoff system began in 1981. The Trojans edged the Lions, 28-27, in 1997, the first year the city had two high schools. However, this year's Topeka High team has lost seven straight since pounding Topeka Highland Park, 33-6, in its opener.
"They've played a very tough schedule," Wedd said of the Trojans. "Athletically, they scare the heck out of you. Their skill players are as good as anybody we've played."
Topeka High is making its second trip to Haskell Stadium in three weeks. In the first trip on Oct. 18, Free State thumped the Trojans, 42-7.
Wedd has some legitimate injury concerns. Both of his starting cornerbacks Â juniors Brett Urban and Taylor Parker Â are out with injuries. Urban has a knee problem and Parker suffered a broken hand in practice this week.
Urban and Parker will be replaced by junior Arvelle Trotter and Jeff Colter, one of only two sophomores on the varsity roster.
If Lawrence wins tonight, it will be the first time the Lions have won at least seven games since 1996.