Welcome to our online chat with Lawrence High football coach Dirk Wedd and Free State coach Bob Lisher.
The chat took place on Thursday, October 20, at 2:00 PM and is now closed, but you can read the full transcript on this page.
Moderator:: Hi and welcome to our chat today. I'm Andy Samuelson the online sports editor for KUsports.com and I will be today's chat moderator. Today we are joined by Lawrence High football coach Dirk Wedd and Free State football coach Bob Lisher. Thanks to both Dirk and Bob for taking time out of their busy schedule this week, especially with just a day before kickoff in the annual City Showdown, to join with our LJWorld.com readers this afternoon.
Dirk Wedd: Thanks, Andy for having us. Anytime you can promote the sport of football in this town is great. Both team's have worked hard, and we hope to see a great crowd to watch a great game between two good teams.
Bob Lisher: Thanks for having us, and thanks to the interested football fans out there. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about football in Lawrence.
Moderator: Guys, with arguably one of the biggest - if not the biggest game of the year - just hours away, I'm sure you've done most of your homework. But without getting into too many Xs and Os, what do you think will be the biggest key to tomorrow's game?
Dirk Wedd: We feel we have to control the football somehow. And definitely keep the Murphys off the field. Free State can score every time you give them the opportunity, so we most definitely have to limit their opportunities. If we have to punt the ball a lot because of a bunch of three and outs, it's going to be a long night.
Bob Lisher: Last year turnovers played a major part. I'm sure they could play a major part in this game. as well A late interception by us stalled a big drive by them last year. They were moving the ball on us pretty good all night. Those two turnovers helped tremendously last year and a couple more tomorrow would probably mean the same. Also Lawrence High is the No. 1 ranked defense in the Sunflower League, and that's saying a lot.
Moderator: Okay fellas, lets get to some reader questions. Dirk, you've won the toss, so you'll go first.
Randy, Lawrence, Kan.: Hi coach Wedd I played for Lawrence High a couple years ago. I was just wondering how you were going to try and match up against the spread offense of the Firebirds? And do you have more confidence in your quarterback this year and is that the main reason you are throwing the football more than normal?
Dirk Wedd: We'll find out how we match-up tomorrow night I guess. The closest thing we've seen to their offense is Olathe South. And that's our only loss. As far as their spread offense, it's very important to try and limit all their offensive weapons. With the Murphys, and Ballard, Brett Lisher and Ayres, they can all hurt you.
As far as Brian Heere it's his second year, and we're very confident in him. We think we can throw with anyone in the league as our third-in-the-league for touchdown passes might attest. When we do pass we've been doing so very effectively.
Moderator: Okay Lish, you're on the clock.
Travis, Lawrence, Kan.: Because the Lions have added the pass more effectively this season does that make LHS much more difficult to prepare for?
Bob Lisher: Absolutely. They can run the football all night long. Then you cheat people up to stop the run and then they can beat you deep with a play-action pass.
Brian Heere he's a very, very accurate passer, and he loves to win. Add a lot of athletic ability and he is very, very difficult to defend.
He could throw well last year. But they didn't have to throw much because of their ground game, they haven't had to throw it much this year either. But they're very good at what they do, when they do it.
Moderator: OK, here's a couple of questions for both of you.
Bob, Lawrence, Kan.: Is there any move to either improve Haskell Stadium or build a district stadium? Compared to what even Topeka has, Lawrence seems far behind when it comes to facilities.
Bob Lisher: Lawrence has been spoiled for so long, because of the great facilities Haskell and KU have provided, that we haven't had to really have two stadium. But with KU trying to upgrade their facilities for football only, it would be really nice if we wouldn't have to shift so much. I would love to have something similar to Hummer Sports Park in Topeka.
Dirk Wedd: Haskell is our home, it's been our home for 50 years. We love it there, and we have a lot of tradition in that stadium. For Lawrence High, it's important we keep the relationship we have with Haskell. But whatever the superintendent of Lawrence feels is best fro all the kids in Lawrence Kansas, I'll be happy to support that decision.
Anonymous, Lawrence, Kan.: Could both of you name, not the best player you have coached, but the best player you have coached against that played for Free State and Lawrence High School. And why?
Dirk Wedd: The best player I've coached against might be tomorrow night. But I always thought the Jake Lawrence kid four or five years ago was really talented. He was a great fullback, and a great linebacker. For a couple of years he was a really tough kid that had a couple of really good games against us.
Bob Lisher: Oh, there's been so many. They've had the big names running backs their every year. Including McAnderson, Fulton, Kellerman. And they've always had great offensive linemen in front of them. It would be almost impossible to pinpoint just one kid in particular.
Barry, Salina, Kan.: What has been the biggest challenge for each school's football program since the inception of the two high schools?
Bob Lisher: Trying to get everyone's confidence level back up. It's taken awhile to show the guys at both schools that we can compete again. It's also hard to get the numbers back up. Even though our numbers are starting to come back up, we're trying to let our kids know that they can win regardless of how big we are.
Dirk Wedd: I think just getting the numbers back up. Football is a game of numbers, you got to have the kids out there to get it done. It was a pretty difficult situation when our enrollment was cut in half. When Lawrence High was the only school we'd have 125 kids every year, but now that's down to about 75, sometimes we get up to 90. We just have to continue to knock on doors and spread the message around the school. Because our feeder junior high are doing a better job of giving us kids.
Moderator: Looks like we have time for one last question.
Chuck, Topeka, Kan.: With Olathe North being down compared to where they have been in past years, do you think this is the year that either of your two teams could win the state title?
Dirk Wedd: Oh absolutely, Free State has the chance because they simply can score so many points. And we like our chances as well. We got to get past this game though. Somehow, someway we got to get in playoffs. If you can get in, you can make some noise. We were able to do that last year and our kids got a taste of it. I think they're hungry to get back.
Bob Lisher: We've played three ranked teams, and all three ranked teams have beat us. But there were positives in each one of those games, except maybe Shawnee Mission West, where we weren't competitive. Against Olathe South we dropped a touchdown and were called out of bounds on another sure score. So that game was closer than the final score indicated. Then against Olathe East, we were inside the 20 six times, and only scored once. We've showed we can compete, now we have to have the discipline and desire to show that we can win those kind of games. But with a large group of seniors going for one goal, anything is possible.
Moderator: Well that's going to do it for our chat today with Lawrence High football coach Dirk Wedd and Free State football coach Bob Lisher. Thanks guys and good luck tomorrow night at KU's Memorial Stadium. Also thanks to our LJWorld.com readers for all their input into this chat and there excitement for high school sports in this city.
Bob Lisher: Thanks Andy, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about Free State football and football in general in Lawrence.
Dirk Wedd: Thanks, and thanks to all the football fans in this city. Come out tomorrow night and watch a good game.