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Archive for Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tittrington: Lions need to regroup

October 24, 2006

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In a perfect world, I'd like to see the Lawrence High-Free State football game take place in Week 9, on the final Friday of the regular season.

For LHS coach Dirk Wedd and the Lions' sake, it's a good thing this year's edition was slated for Week 8.

No team is in greater need of a confidence boost than LHS, which, in the last three weeks, has seen Shawnee Mission West ease past the 50-point barrier and Free State flirt with it. Sandwiched between was a convincing victory against Washburn Rural.

And that's where having Week 9 against a team not wearing green comes in handy.

The truth is, as bad as things seemed late Friday night at Haskell Stadium for those decked out in red and black, the Lions still have a chance to salvage a decent season.

Will it be a state championship season? No. Anyone who witnessed either of the two blowout losses knows this isn't an LHS squad built for a 27th championship banner. The offensive line is banged-up and a bit undersized, the defense lacks speed in key positions, and there are a handful of other teams in the state of Kansas that are simply better.

But that's an important point. It's only a handful.

Take away the two lopsided losses to the Sunflower League co-champs, and Lawrence High is 4-2.

Take away the century mark those two setbacks deposited in the scoring-defense column on the stat sheet, and LHS has surrendered just 86 points - an average of 14.3 points per game.

Take away the fact the Lions had to throw the ball throughout the second half against Free State, and tailback Tony Williams not only tops 100 yards rushing for the seventh time this season, but possibly eclipses the 1,000-yard benchmark for the season.

All told, that's a pretty good ledger. It's certainly enough to propel LHS past overmatched Topeka High (2-6) Friday at Haskell Stadium.

The Trojans own victories against Washburn Rural (whom LHS already beat) and Topeka West (a Class 5A school whom nearly everyone else already has beat). Their pass defense draws its inspiration from Kansas University. Their run defense isn't much better. And one only need to look back at last year - when half the roster was kicked off the team for failing to show up to practice - to see the latest evidence of their ongoing discipline problems.

Simply put, Topeka High does not merit a spot in the quality-teams discussion.

What the Trojans offer is the opportunity for Lawrence High to feel good about itself again and build up a head of steam entering the Class 6A state playoffs. Once there, the Lions can draw upon their five positive outcomes this fall, their recent postseason success and the ghosts of glory past and perhaps end the 2006 season with something to remember instead of two somethings to forget.

"Let's get there. Let's beat Topeka High and get in the playoffs," Wedd said late Friday night, not even 10 minutes after his squad's toughest loss of the season.

"The last two years we've made some noise. We made some vibes. Let's hook it up and see what happens."

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