Archive for Saturday, October 21, 2006

Firebirds win bragging rights

Fans enjoy ‘big deal’ atmosphere

October 21, 2006


The football action Friday night at Haskell Stadium split Lawrence friends and some families between red and black and green and white.

But it was the Free State High School faithful who came away happy after the Firebirds defeated the Lawrence High School Lions, 49-15.

"It's a huge accomplishment because LHS is our rival. To beat them by this much, it makes us all feel better," said Austin Bergstrom, a Free State sophomore.

As the game wore on, it became a blowout.

"At the beginning I thought we had a chance, but after awhile it got disappointing," said LHS sophomore Aimee Niedenthal.

The showdown, which has split the city since 1997, is a competition among students and friends who know each other fairly well or even once attended elementary or junior high school together.

"If we don't (win), it's just kind of embarrassing, and it's so built up, we make it a big deal," said Kristen Karlin, a Free State senior volleyball player, before the game.

"It just gives you that pride that you beat your crosstown rival," LHS senior soccer player Colin Flanders said before the game. His cousin took the field Friday for Free State.

Fans in their green or red mingled a little but mostly stuck to their own as they tailgated and awaited the kickoff.

"I think it's very healthy. It's always good to have a city rivalry, and having two high schools is kind of special in a town. You have it focused on the only two in town," John Heitshusen said.

He wore his Free State cap and sat with the Firebird fans but said his heart was split because two of his children graduated from LHS and one earned a diploma from Free State.

School administrators on each side have said they try to keep it a healthy and friendly rivalry.

Students and fans insisted the competition makes it nice to store up a win for bragging rights.

"It all depends if you win or lose," said Jamar Reese, a senior Free State basketball player. "We'll all be friends again by Monday."

City Showdown

Highlights from the 2005 Lawrence High-Free State game. Enlarge video

"It's a big rivalry because we are two Lawrence schools, and LHS is better," said Lawrence High senior Kaley Houk.

Mark Shipley graduated from LHS in 1977, and he said having two schools made for a great atmosphere during a football game.

"I think it's fun. It doesn't really get out of hand," he said. "It's all part of being 17 years old."

With heads butting on the field and Free State adding some graduating classes and years under its belt, the rivalry sometimes spills over.

Three LHS seniors - two boys and a girl - were found to have broken into Free State on Wednesday night. They took two state championship banners, which later were returned.

The students were suspended and prohibited from attending any school-related functions, including Friday's game.

LHS Principal Steve Nilhas said at least one of the students was a member of National Honor Society and could be kicked out of the organization. He also said the incident went beyond an "innocent prank."

Some said the banner incident was all part of the rivalry.

"It's all in good fun. It's always been like that," said LHS senior Andrew Toyne.

Like a family feud, the other side disagreed - sort of.

"It would be funny if we did it to them, but I don't think it's funny they did it to us," said Karlin, a Free State senior.

While Free State was victorious on the field, some LHS fans tried to downplay it.

"After a couple of days, no one really thinks about it. We won last year, but it doesn't really come up much during the year," said LHS sophomore Ursula Rothrock.

- 6News reporter Deanna Richards contributed information to this story.


Leprechaunking13 11 years, 6 months ago

I think it's rediculous how it's unbelievable that lhs students could steal championship banners from freestate, I remember FS taking our championship trophies multiple times and usually multiple trophies at a time and I don't ever remember hearing about any of them getting suspended. Too bad LHS stole and never returned FS first state trophy, hahahahahaha

Tychoman 11 years, 6 months ago

Why are they interviewing sophomores? They never know enough about high school tradition to know what they're talking about. It was an exciting game, though I left after halftime after LHS's Band kicked even more ass.

Leprechaunking13 11 years, 6 months ago

too bad FS doesn't have any tradition to begin with, they don't even have a home field to play on, oh wait they're probably planning on building a stadium like haskells just for FS

myunitedstatesofWHATEVA 11 years, 6 months ago

pywacket.. lhs had a bonfire thursday and the band played at it and were cheered for by the football players and many more.. the band also told us about how great they were doing this year and were again cheered for by those same football players.. they told us about their competition and guess what THE FOOTBALL PLAYER SENIORS GOT ON THE MIC TO WISH THEM GOOD LUCK! so dont tell me football players dont support band..

and on another note FS goes too far the rivalry.. my 16 year old daughter cheers for LHS and she was hanging signs before the game.. she got rocks thrown at her and was taunted by her own friends from FS..

they did that to all the LHS cheerleaders.. i hope FS is proud of the violence they are promoting..

ohhh noo they got their banners stolen?! boo hoo! oh and one of the kids that did it.. was at the game.. but you know FS came and stole signs that LHS cheerleaders made and did they press charges?.. no! those signs werent even returned

FS students are a bunch of little spoiled brats who cant take a joke and have to go freaking whine to the cops because "the LHS kids are being mean"

screw FS and their football team.. we'll whoop their asses next year

afterONE 11 years, 6 months ago

I can tell you both from personal experience that the football team does not support the band EVEN CLOSE to as much as how much the band supports the football team. I was in the LHS band in 1998-2001, and we never got support from the sports teams. I never saw one football player go out of his way to come to our band contests.

Sure you can say that you wish the band good luck, but we were at your games every Friday night. Where were you during our band competition?

pywacket - very insightful information. You'll have to PM me some information about the Band Competition at KU this year. Thanks for caring about the band. Not many do.

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