The Free State High football team answered plenty of questions about its defense with an 18-0 shutout of high-powered Olathe South last week.
This week, the Firebirds are ready for their encore.
At 7 p.m. tonight at Haskell Stadium, Free State (2-2) will play host to Shawnee Mission East (2-2) and the Firebirds will face another high-powered offensive attack.
Like Olathe South a week ago, the Lancers enter tonight's contest featuring one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the league.
SME quarterback Curran Darling ranks seventh in the Sunflower League in passing - 21-49, 308 yards and 2 TDs - and receivers Marcus Webb and Kevin Hertel both are in the Top 3 in receiving, with 470 yards and four touchdowns between them.
As a team, the Lancers rank fourth in the league in passing offense, but just ninth in scoring and last in rushing. That lands them at the bottom of the league in total offense. But here's the catch: the three Lancers game tapes that Free State has seen feature three different SME quarterbacks.
"We don't really know what to expect," Free State coach Bob Lisher said. "But we'll prepare for all three of them. I just really want us to play at the level I know we're capable of playing."
That message came through loud and clear this week in practice. Instead of celebrating last week's shutout too long, the Firebirds chose to tuck that one away and strive to make themselves better.
"It's a good feeling," junior lineman Michael Lisher said. "But we remember the Shawnee Mission West and Shawnee Mission Northwest games and how we felt after those, too. It was pretty humbling."
In those two losses, the Firebirds gave up an average of 403 yards of total offense. In the team's two victories, the Firebirds cut that number considerably, surrendering just 143 yards per game in wins against SM South and Olathe South.
"I think we're finally starting to come together as a team and put it all together," Michael Lisher said.
In addition to the frustration of preparing for an unknown starting quarterback, the Firebirds have other obstacles to overcome tonight. It's Homecoming, an event that always brings an extra buzz to gameday.
"It's important that we don't let the Homecoming distractions get to us," Bob Lisher said. "We just need to come out and play solid football. If we do that, I'll be satisfied."