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Archive for Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Woodling: Football valuable at Veritas

September 13, 2005

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I was dubious when I saw the light standards. They didn't look like they could illuminate an ant farm, much less a football game.

Yet when the sun went down, the six generators - three on each side of the field - provided plenty of light for Veritas Christian's eight-man football clash against Topeka Cair Paravel.

The Veritas folks had taken one of the Youth Sports Inc. fields used primarily by little league teams, shortened it to 80 yards, brought in the half-dozen portable light units - at $100 per stand - and kicked it off.

Veritas doesn't have a home football field. Heck, the Eagles don't even have a home practice field. After school, coach Doug Bennett, his assistants and their 19 varsity players drive all the way to Community Bible Church.

Do you know where CBC is? Let's just say it's closer to Clinton Lake than it is to the Veritas "campus" on North Michigan St.

Fortunately, the Eagles can make the trip in 15 or 20 minutes by wending their way north through an industrial park, on to the Farmer's Turnpike, then to CBC via the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Those of you familiar with Sixth Street can only imagine how long it would take the Eagles to reach CBC if they had to take that traffic-signal laden and construction-slowed east-west artery.

Underlying Veritas football is the school's commitment. They really want it. Not only is the no-field factor working against Veritas, scheduling is a problem. There aren't that many eight-man programs in this part of Kansas. Moreover, football equipment isn't cheap.

So, why in the world did Veritas opt for football?

Seabury Academy, Lawrence's other small private high school, does not have a football program. In the fall, the Seahawks offer boys soccer instead. Veritas could have offered soccer, too, but went the other route.

"We chose football," said Bennett, who is also the school's athletic director. "We had a handful of students in our junior high who were looking to transfer because they wanted to play football, and I saw no reason we couldn't have a football program."

The school's managing board agreed, and the Eagles have been pretty successful ever since. They posted a winning record in their first season and they're off to a 2-0 start this fall.

Meanwhile, at Seabury, athletic director Brian Clyne says students ask him from time to time when the Seahawks will have football.

"We're definitely open to it," Clyne said. "Maybe in the next few years we will, but there's nothing actively in progress. I'm sure we've lost kids because we don't have football and baseball."

If Seabury should add football, the school trustees wouldn't have to look for a coach. Clyne coached eight-man football in Arizona and, he said, "I'd love to do it again."

Perhaps the time isn't that far off when in addition to the Lawrence High-Free State football rivalry, we'll have Veritas and Seabury clashing for the city eight-man championship.

Shoot, maybe they could even schedule an intracity football doubleheader at, say, Haskell Stadium. Pie in the sky? Perhaps, but in Lawrence not even the completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway is in Never Never Land.

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