The Free State High football team will have to settle for sharing the Sunflower League title during its first-ever finish atop the standings.
Both the Firebirds and Shawnee Mission West finished 6-0 in league play, with their final league contests coming last Friday. Free State beat city rival Lawrence High, 49-15, while Shawnee Mission West beat Olathe East - which also entered the game with an unblemished league mark - 35-6.
The Firebirds and Vikings are likely to collide in the Class 6A state playoffs that begin next Friday.
¢ Tough road for LHS: Lawrence High played each of the league football co-champs, bowing to SM West, 51-7, in addition to its loss to Free State. Nevertheless, the Lions (4-4) can qualify for the 6A playoffs if they defeat Topeka High (2-6) on Friday night in their home finale at Haskell Stadium.
¢ No mercy: Free State's 34-point victory over the Lions was the Firebirds' biggest in the 10-year history of the city series. Lawrence High's biggest victory was a 35-0 whitewash in 2000.
¢ Short of a century: Tony Williams rushed for 96 yards on 26 carries Friday night, only the second time the Lawrence High senior had failed to run for at least 100 yards in a game this fall. Williams had a season-low 52 yards in a 14-7 loss to Olathe South.
¢ Youthful presence: Lawrence High sophomore running back Clifton Sims ran 14 times for 44 yards in Friday's game, prompting Free State fans to derisively chant, "He's a sophomore! He's a sophomore!"
¢ Three for the 'D': Free State linebacker Andy Petz's 21-yard interception return for a touchdown against LHS was the third score turned in by the Firebirds' defense this season. Jason Sneegas returned a fumble for a TD in the opener against Leavenworth, and John Bergman recovered a fumble in the end zone against Olathe Northwest.
¢ Going for the kill: Senior Jessica Scott led all Free State players with 15 kills at Saturday's Class 6A sub-state volleyball tournament at Olathe Northwest. Senior Kelsey Harrison had 11, and junior Brooke Carter 10. The Firebirds beat Leavenworth before falling to Lawrence High in the sub-state final.
¢ Strategy backfires: Free State volleyball coach Nancy Hopkins wanted to give seniors Harrison and Scott a breather with the Firebirds ahead of Leavenworth in the second game. However, with Harrison and Scott out, Free State lost five straight points and led only 19-15. Hopkins had to put the duo back in the game to seal the 25-19 victory.
¢ Jones reaches new high: While the Lawrence High gymnastics team won its first Sunflower League title last Tuesday, senior Abby Jones set a career-high in the all-around by posting a 38.025 score.