When it rains it pours on Lawrence High's football team, and not just because the Lions dodged showers during Wednesday afternoon's practice session.
Injuries and illnesses have accumulated like water in a pump-less sump for coach Dirk Wedd.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Wedd, now in his ninth season as the Lions' head coach. "First, we lost our running backs coach, and it's gone downhill ever since."
Wedd was referring to aide Devin McAnderson, who missed nearly two weeks of practice after being diagnosed with a rare bone-marrow disorder.
Next, the Lions had to play without starting quarterback Clint Pinnick for three games and starting tailback Clifton Sims for two games. Pinnick and Sims returned last week, but now Lawrence High has lost its two leading pass receivers.
Jared Vinoverski, who has 16 receptions, and Travis Sanders, right behind with 14 catches, will not play in Friday night's clash against crosstown rival Free State at Haskell Stadium. Sanders and Vinoverski, both seniors, were also starters in the defensive secondary.
The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Sanders suffered a season-ending knee injury during last Friday's district opener against Washburn Rural.
Meanwhile, the 6-2, 180-pound Vinoverski has also been listed as out for the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with this week with a non-football related illness.
Wedd said he'll replace the two seniors on both offense and defense with juniors Aaron Rea (6-0, 180) and Jake Green (5-11, 175). Both Rea and Green have logged considerable duty as reserves, but moving them up cuts into the Lions' depth.
Lawrence High (3-4) snapped a three-game losing streak by knocking off Rural, 28-6, last week. After Friday's battle with Free State, the Lions will close the regular season on Oct. 26 at Topeka High.
Wins over the Firebirds and Trojans would assure Lawrence High a berth in the Class 6A state playoffs, but its probable the Lions would also advance if they win just one of their two remaining contests.
Although Friday's intra-city meeting with the Firebirds will be on the Lions' home field, they are officially the visiting team and thus will be in an unaccustomed place on the south sidelines.