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Archive for Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Receiver makes life easier for Berner

October 1, 2002

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It seemed like all Free State High quarterback Matt Berner had to do was lob the ball up in the air last Friday.

Didn't matter where, just some place near receiver Dain Dillingham and he'd take care of the rest.

"Well it was more complicated than that," said Firebird coach Bob Lisher.

Not much.

The junior caught five passes for a career-high 187 yards and three touchdowns, helping Free State improve to 4-0 with a 25-7 victory against Olathe East. The undefeated mark is the best start in Firebird history.

"We do tell Berner to put it up there, because we have confidence that Dillingham and all of our receivers will come down with it," Lisher said.

That certainly was the case Friday, as Dillingham, who is also a standout basketball player at Free State, stole three passes away from O-East defenders and took all of them into the end zone during an 18-minute span.

"Dain's the kind of guy that will get almost anything thrown to him," Lisher said of his wideout, who has 14 receptions for 360 yards and four touchdowns on the year. "It seems like he always making those kind of catches."

Lisher made it easier for Berner to find Dillingham when he lined him and senior wideout Bijai Jones on opposite sides, forcing O-East to guard one of the receivers with just a single defender.

"He was just going to the guy that wasn't double covered," Lisher said of how Berner found Dillingham on the pair's third touchdown in the back of the Hawks' endzone.

On Dillingham's two other scores he caught quick passes and took off on romps of 54 and 64 yards.

But as impressive as Dillingham was Friday, Lisher said Berner's been equally effective.

"He's just really matured as a leader and been able to stay poised in the pocket," Lisher said of Berner, who has thrown for 850 yards, just 152 less than what he tossed all of last season, and 11 touchdowns.

"He has tremendous confidence in his receivers, you have to have that trust."

Free State will have a chance to improve to 5-0 when it takes on 1-3 Leavenworth at 7 p.m. Friday at Haskell Stadium.

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Firebirds feeling ill: Kicker Will Malcolm will be held out this week after suffering a concussion last week. Kyle Berthold, who led the Firebirds with seven solo tackles last week, will undergo an MRI today on his knee. Receiver Stanley Redwine, who didn't play last game because of an injured wrist, is recovering and Nick McGovern also is nursing an ankle.

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Surprising Start: "Obviously we don't talk too much about records, but to be able to start this way really shows how much the kids believe in themselves and what we've been telling them," Lisher said.

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