If Dirk Wedd could replay one down from any of Lawrence High's first 10 games, the Lions' football coach wouldn't have to think long to make his choice.
"The two-point conversion from a yard and a half out," said Wedd, whose team will meet Olathe South at 7 tonight at Olathe District Activities Center in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs. "We're known for knocking people off the ball. I probably made a bad call there."
Olathe South led LHS 35-28 in overtime during the sixth week of the season before Lawrence's Ian Handshy made it a one-point game with a five-yard touchdown run.
Wedd opted to go for a two-point conversion and the victory, calling for backup running back Richard Demby to carry on a sweep to the right side.
South stuffed Demby short of the end zone, and the game was over.
"This is a great opportunity to try again against a very good football team," Wedd said. "Olathe South is probably one of the top two or three teams in the state. We've got another opportunity, and that's all you can ask for."
Lawrence looked like a long shot to make the playoffs after the loss to the Falcons at Haskell Stadium dropped the Lions to 2-4. But LHS, which had started the season 0-3, won two of three district games and blanked Blue Valley Northwest, 17-0, Friday in Overland Park in its playoff opener.
"We started off kind of rough," quarterback Brian Heere said. "We got better every week, and we're starting to peak."
Olathe South coach Mark Littrell said his team "felt fortunate" to leave Haskell with a victory back on Oct. 8, and the Falcons (8-2) are well aware of how much the Lions (5-5) have improved in the last five weeks.
|What: Class 6A state football playoff game.When: 7 tonight.Where: Olathe District Activities Center, Olathe.Radio: KLWN-AM (1320).Records: Lawrence High 5-5, Olathe South 8-2.|
"They're executing," Littrell said. "When we played them in week six, they were getting better. They were very good, and they're even better now. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for our kids. They're flying to the ball and playing real well. They're defense has really stepped up."
Lawrence High has posted back-to-back shutouts, stopping Topeka High, 57-0, in the final week of the regular season before stuffing BVNW last week. LHS hasn't allowed a touchdown in its last nine quarters.
That same defense was shaky against O-South.
LHS took a 28-21 lead with 1:41 left in regulation on Demby's 55-yard halfback pass to Brandon Lassiter and a two-point conversion run by Jeff Colter, but O-South needed less than a minute to tie the game. Brady Croucher and Bryce Morris connected for a 25-yard touchdown pass -- Morris' third score of the game.
"He had a huge game for us," Littrell said of the 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior, who caught six passes for 106 yards.
Junior running back Tony Bryant also had a solid night against the Lions with 91 yards on 18 carries, including a TD in overtime. Bryant sat out last week's 35-7 victory over Shawnee Mission South because of an illness and is questionable for tonight's game. Junior Devin Cummings, who leads O-South with more than 900 yards rushing, had 87 yards and a TD in the first meeting with LHS.
Wedd put the 35-34 final on the scoreboard during practices this week to remind the Lions of how close they came to knocking off one of the state's top teams.
"Overtime was a horrible feeling when we lost," said Heere, who threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Lassiter in that game. "We're going to keep that in mind and work really hard this week."