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Archive for Sunday, July 25, 2004

Lawrence still filling coaching vacancies

Lions have variety of openings available

July 25, 2004

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This was supposed to be the relaxing time of the year for Lawrence High athletic director Ron Commons, before the madness of high school sports begins next month.

Instead, he and other LHS administrators are having to put in some extra time managing the shuffling of coaches at LHS.

Several LHS coaching openings are posted on the Lawrence school district Web site, including head baseball coach, head boys swimming coach, head girls soccer coach and a slew of assistant coaching positions. Free State High also has several assistant vacancies.

"We have quite a few positions to fill over the summertime," Commons said. "Hopefully, we can get started and get some of those filled by the end of the month."

The most intriguing one is baseball, where LHS has been searching for a replacement ever since parting ways with David Petry at the beginning of June. Baseball has been one of the most successful sports at Lawrence High in recent years, winning the school's last state championship in 2000.

"We're hoping that here in the next week to 10 days, we can get that taken care of," Commons said of the opening.

LHS already has filled one head-coach opening this summer. Assistant coach Scott Stidham was hired in June to head the Lions' track and field team, replacing the retired Jerry Skakal.

It's fitting, though, that Stidham's promotion also means that now there is an advertised opening for his previous job as an assistant. More for LHS administrators to do, it seems.

Will it ever end?

"It's kind of interesting," Commons said with a chuckle. "We went through the interview process, and we knew that if we promoted Scott, we'd have to turn around and find somebody to take HIS place."

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Morningstar keeping busy: Free State senior-to-be Brady Morningstar is enjoying -- or perhaps, surviving -- a hectic summer of camps, AAU basketball and college recruiting.

Morningstar, who averaged 15.7 points a game for the Firebirds last year, currently is out west playing in tournaments in Las Vegas and Los Angeles on the K.C. Pump 'N' Run team, a squad coached by his father, former Kansas University player Roger Morningstar.

Among the players Brady will go up against while on the left coast is Mario Chalmers, one of the top point-guard prospects in the country who has committed to join KU in 2005.

While Morningstar has another year of high school basketball left, Division One programs are showing interest in the guard, who stands 6-foot-2, has sharp instincts and a good shooting touch. Interested schools reportedly include Creighton, Wichita State and Valparaiso.

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Brown getting interest, too: One of Morningstar's AAU teammates is De Soto senior-to-be Danny Brown, an explosive 6-foot-4 slasher who's getting Division One looks of his own. Creighton has offered Brown a scholarship, and a number of Big 12 Conference, Missouri Valley, and even some west-coast schools have maintained strong interest.

As a junior, Brown averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for De Soto, and was a first-team Journal-World All-Area selection.

"He will sign early in the fall, I'm positive of that," De Soto coach Jason Generally said. "It's just a matter of where he feels most comfortable. He's very good in the classroom, so his education is important to him."

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Howell transfers: Former Free State goalkeeper Justin Howell, who signed out of high school with the University of Tampa, a Division Two soccer powerhouse, has decided to transfer. He now will play for Drake University, a Division One program in Des Moines, Iowa.

Howell received a generous scholarship package from Drake, a Missouri Valley school that finished 10-6-1 in 2003. He had shoulder surgery last year and red-shirted while at Tampa, so the Bulldogs hope to get four years out of him.

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DVL upgrade: If you've taken a recent glance at the Delaware Valley League -- where area schools McLouth and Oskaloosa belong -- you might have noticed a new name.

Highland High School is no more. It has been upgraded, in a way, combining with the nearby Midway School District to create Doniphan West High School in Highland.

For athletic purposes, Doniphan West will be up to par with the rest of the DVL in terms of size, though it might be slow in the beginning in terms of success.

But one sport Highland High couldn't participate in now is a reality at Doniphan West: 11-man football. The Mustangs will play a full varsity schedule this year, including a Sept. 17 game with McLouth.

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