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Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2005

LHS must stop O-South’s deadly offense

October 6, 2005

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Thousands of Mongolian nomads could give a yak's hoof about tonight's Olathe South-Lawrence High football game.

Yet the battle of Sunflower League unbeatens is the prep Game of the Week in Kansas.

"It's like Monday Night Football," LHS defensive coordinator Scott Stidham said. "Everybody will be there."

Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at the Olathe District Activities Center.

Stidham faces the formidable task of limiting the Falcons' lethal offense that features running backs Devin Cummings and Tony Bryant and three-year quarterback starter Brady Croucher.

"It's a three-headed monster," Stidham said. "(Bryant and Cummings) are highlight-film guys, but their quarterback is a winner. When they need a yard or a play to win, he does the job."

It was Croucher's one-yard run in overtime that enabled the Falcons to edge the Lions, 20-14, in the Class 6A playoffs last season. Croucher also tossed three touchdown passes to fuel O-South's 35-34 OT victory over the Lions during the regular season.

"That first game was a track meet," Stidham said. "We couldn't stop them to save our lives. We weren't a very good defense in Week Six, but we continued to get better."

Those two overtime defeats prevented the Lions from having a winning season. After a sluggish 0-3 start, Lawrence High rallied to win five of its last eight. Two of the last three losses were to O-South.

But that was then, and now the Lions are off to a 5-0 start - the school's best in 12 years - and the Falcons, who were 6A state runners-up to Hutchinson last year, also are 5-0.

Lawrence High has several returnees this season, and none has forgotten the agony of those O-South defeats.

"The second one was definitely worse than the first," senior running back Nolan Kellerman said, "because we knew we could beat them after the first time."

Senior safety Marc Albers agreed.

"We put our heart and souls into that first game and fell short," Albers said. "It was a heartbreaker, but the second one : I can't even put it into words. It was like somebody stabbed me."

Wide receiver-defensive back Brandon Lassiter had his hands on a Brian Heere pass in the end zone that could have forced at second OT - or perhaps a win - in that second meeting.

"I dropped that ball in the end zone," Lassiter said. "I can't stop thinking about it. I need to fix that."

Still, while Lawrence has the incentive, Olathe South can play the confidence card. The Falcons know they can defeat the Lions because they did it twice last year.

"That could help them," Kellerman said, "but we know we're just as good as they are, and we think we're better than we were last year."

Tonight's winner will earn at least a share of the league title because only the first six games count in the standings. District play will begin next weekend.

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