Free State High's struggling defense will be tested by an unlikely source tonight when the Firebird football team meets Olathe South at Olathe District Activities Center.
South, traditionally a passing team, enters the 7 p.m. matchup ranked second in the Sunflower League with an average of 224.4 yards rushing a game.
"That's unheard of at Olathe South," said Free State coach Bob Lisher, whose team ranks 10th in the league in rushing defense (201.5). "We've thrown the ball more than they have. They're loaded in the backfield. They're a single-back offense, and they have three really good running backs. They keep them fresh."
Junior Devin Cummings leads the Falcons (3-1 overall, 1-0 league) with 342 yards rushing and six touchdowns. South, which has won three straight, still will put the ball in the air. Junior Brady Croucher has passed for 420 yards and five TDs.
"We have to play good, solid fundamental defense," said Lisher, whose team is 0-4 overall and 0-3 in the league. "Everybody has to know their assignments and get them done."
Free State played well at times last week, but two first-half turnovers led to easy touchdowns for Shawnee Mission West in a 35-14 loss. The Firebirds had more total yards and more first downs than the Vikings.
|OFFENSEWR -- Christian Ballard, 6-3, 240, So. TE -- Danny Pike, 6-2, 190, Sr. LT -- Ryan Gore, 6-4, 225, Sr. LG -- Cameron Reschke, 5-7, 175, Jr. C -- Philip Weinmaster, 6-2, 240, Sr. RG -- Casey Ballard, 6-1, 240, Sr. RT -- Jarvis Doleman, 6-2, 300, Sr. WR -- Nick Ayre, 6-0, 165, Jr. QB -- Nick Witmer, 5-11, 175, Sr. RB -- Jamie Resseguie, 5-10, 185, Sr. RB -- Brian Murphy, 5-8, 155, So. Punter -- Witmer.DEFENSEDT -- Weinmaster. NG -- Mikel Ruder, 6-3, 225, So. DT -- Gore. OLB -- Matt Farley, 5-10, 195, Sr. ILB -- Corey Galloway, 6-2, 220, Sr. ILB -- Pike. OLB -- Resseguie. CB -- Ayre. S -- Jon Green, 5-11, 180, Sr. S -- Brett Lisher, 6-0, 200, Jr. CB -- Ryan Murphy, 5-10, 160, So. Kicker -- Witmer.|
"We're making strides," Lisher said. "We're three or four plays from having a great game against Shawnee Mission West. When we executed, we were very good. We just have to eliminate mental errors."
Lisher would like to see more consistency in an offense averaging 13.5 points per game. Sophomore Brian Murphy leads Free State with 317 rushing yards and three TDs. Junior Nick Ayre ranks among the league leaders with 10 receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
Lisher's team will try to shake a four-game losing streak.
"We're banged up and sick," he said, "but we'll show up and play."
Free State next will play host to Olathe Northwest (0-4, 0-3) on Oct. 7.