Free State High football coach Bob Lisher wants to make one thing clear: There's no excuse for a sub-par performance.
The Firebirds lost, 36-15, to Shawnee Mission Northwest Friday because of defensive breakdowns in the first half and a second-half offense that couldn't score.
"The bottom line is that the kids out there have got to make plays," Lisher said. "We have to practice harder, we have to prepare harder, and we have to get in better shape."
The Firebirds' already-thin roster is dealing with injuries. Senior Will Malcolm, Free State's top running back, rushed for 43 yards on eight carries Friday but didn't play most of the game because of a sore elbow and flu-like symptoms.
Also, in the second quarter Friday, FSHS senior lineman Jeremy Bustamante injured his ankle and didn't return. He was limping heavily after the game.
"We don't have a lot of depth, and that does bother us a little bit," Lisher said. "But our kids are going to have to step up and go. They knew they were going to have to step up and go, and we didn't get that commitment."
Lawrence High coach Dirk Wedd, whose Lions beat Leavenworth, 43-22, said significant strides must be made in practice for the winning to continue. Lawrence's next two games are against two of the Sunflower League's best -- Shawnee Mission North and Olathe East.
"This is a huge week of practice for us," Wedd said. "We've got to get fundamentally sound in everything we do."¢
Around the Sunflower League: Perhaps the most talked-about game in the Sunflower League last week was Shawnee Mission North's 7-6 victory Thursday over Olathe North. The loss snapped O-North's 38-game winning streak and perhaps confirmed the Indians, not O-North, are the favorite for this year's league crown.
"They're one of the few teams in the past seven or eight years that could match up with Olathe North physically," Wedd said. "They're a big, strong football team."
Along with SM North, LHS and SM Northwest, the other 1-0 teams after week one are Olathe East, which beat Shawnee Mission South, 21-10, and Olathe South, which beat Shawnee Mission East, 14-0.¢
Up next: The Lions will play SM North Friday at SM North District Stadium in an early battle of unbeatens. Free State, meanwhile, returns home to play Olathe South Friday at Kansas University's Memorial Stadium.