Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dream season finished

November 21, 2006


Attention Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence and all you teenagers scrambling to find spaces in the parking lots at Lawrence and Free State highs: Can anybody explain the 15th Street Conundrum, AKA the Bob Billings Parkway Puzzle?

Two years ago, bolstered by a talented senior class, Lawrence High posted a 10-2 football record. At the same time, Free State struggled to a 4-6 mark with only a handful of seniors on its roster.

This fall, bolstered by a talented senior class, Free State rolled to an 11-1 record - the best in the school's 10-year history while Lawrence, with hardly a returning starter, slipped to 6-5.

Who can explain why the district dividing line between the two high schools varies so much in terms of football skills from year to year?

Last November, Lions' coach Dirk Wedd was raving about his senior class, saying "Kids like that come along once in a great while." Bob Lisher didn't use the same words to describe this year's Firebirds, but he echoed Wedd's sentiments.

"This was a class bunch of kids to be around," said Lisher, the only football coach Free State has ever had. "They were fun. They made practice fun. They were positive and very coachable."

And, boy, were they ever skilled.

I wonder how long it will be before we see the likes of the Murphy twins again. Brian Murphy, who played running back, gained 1,095 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Meanwhile, brother Ryan rushed for 1,084 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. In other words, if Ryan had run for 11 more yards the identical twins would have compiled identical rushing statistics.

As you know, Ryan Murphy also passed the football. And how. He threw for 1,863 yards and 15 touchdowns. In other words, Ryan accumulated 2,947 yards of offense and was responsible for 32 touchdowns.

Records are sketchy - in large part because Lawrence High doesn't believe in maintaining stats - but I don't know of any city high school player who has ever produced almost 3,000 yards of offense in a single season.

Ryan Murphy has to be the most versatile quarterback this city has ever produced. Yes, I know you're wondering about John Hadl, but Hadl was a running back at Lawrence High, primarily a runner at Kansas University and mostly a passer in the pro ranks, mainly with the San Diego Chargers.

How will Lisher replace the Murphys? He won't. But at least he won't have to try to turn straw into gold. Free State's two leading receivers - Chucky Hunter (44 catches, 504 yards) and Craig Rosenstengle (34 catches, 735 yards) - will likely take over at running back and quarterback, respectively.

Both Rosenstengle and Hunter have wheels, meaning the Firebirds won't lack for weapons, but what about linemen?

If the Murphys were the heart of these Firebirds, then linemen Kyle Weinmaster, Mikel Ruder, Christian Ballard, Andy Petz and Jimmy Bruce were the souls.

Although Free State won't necessarily be rebuilding next fall, the Firebirds will not be reloading, either. Free State should be competitive in 2007, but you have to be realistic. This was a dream season.


Leprechaunking13 11 years, 4 months ago

You really think that LHS is the apple of anyones eye on the LJW sports staff? No, FS is and has been for the last 10 years. This article stated that FS just lost their core group offensively and defencively, so seeing how LHS did after losing a lot of seniors, it's fair speculation that FS won't go 11-1 next season. This was a dream season for FS. Also for Coach Lisher this is the most winningest team he's coached there and the only team that has won a game in post season. Besides don't you know that there is only ONE high school in this town? LAWRENCE high

quigley 11 years, 4 months ago

It would be pretty sad if Lawrence High was the only high school in town, seeing how they got smoked by Freestate and a handfull of others this year.

Smakm95 11 years, 4 months ago

Not to discredit Free States success this year. They had an incredible run. However,Lawrence High will continue to be the standard to which all area teams will be measured. Few if any schools in the area let alone the state rival the rich history and tradition of the Chesty Lions!

BigAl 11 years, 4 months ago

Smakm95.....Actually, the "Lawrence Lions" SHOULD have won those state titles. They were bigger than every other school in the state. Just imagine if LHS and Free State were still one school, they would win it all again this year, no doubt.

I, for one, do NOT consider LHS as a measuring stick for high school football.

Smakm95 11 years, 4 months ago

BigAl... Not withstanding the fact that Lawrence High was the only high school in town during it's run of state championships that should not take away from their accomplishments. Currently there are (9) schools with a larger enrollment than LHS. The largest being Derby. If I remember correctly they were not a contender for a state title this year. If you are saying that state championships are won and lost based on the size of enrollment you are selling short every team that strapped on a helmet this year. I would wager that teams in smaller classes like Holton High School would give any school irregardless of size a run for their money. Don't sell the teams of LHS past short. They put their pads on one leg at a time just like their opponents did...and won anyway!

jayhawktownie 11 years, 4 months ago

the reason the city rivalry has turned to ignorance and vandalism in the last few years is because LHS can't let go of their "one high school" entitlement complex. rather than feel threatened by LFS's mere existence, why don't you embrace the opportunity to have Lawrence represented by two great schools? it's asanine to bash LFS on their lack of history, it's not those kids' fault the school is only 10 years old. I feel the journal world does a fairly decent job of covering both schools equally but you can't blame them for covering LFS when they are playing further into the season.

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