The 80 or so members of coach Dirk Wedd's Lawrence High football team realize it's not 2007. But that does not mean it doesn't feel like it.
After starting the 2008 season with back-to-back road victories, the Lions reached the meat of their schedule and have seen their confidence-inducing 2-0 record transform into a rather meager 2-3.
In addition, injuries to key players have popped up, leaving LHS shorthanded as it faced some of its toughest competition.
"We went through the same thing last year," senior quarterback Clint Pinnick said. "We won a couple of games, and then we got to the hard part of the schedule against some teams that were real good. Injuries didn't help, and they haven't helped this year, but we've got some guys back and we're ready to get things turned around."
Pinnick and Wedd both said today's game against Olathe South - 7 p.m. at Olathe District Activities Center - takes on a greater meaning because of what comes in the weeks that follow: the playoffs.
That's not to say the Lions are looking ahead. Instead, they're looking to regain some positive vibes before heading into district play.
"This one has more importance because after those losses, we really want to get a win before district so we can get some momentum going," Pinnick said.
Wedd said the impact of momentum in high school football cannot be underestimated.
"Momentum's important," he said. "You have to get momentum sometime. The only way to do it is to play good football and get a win."
The key to doing that tonight against the Falcons rests in two areas, Wedd said: a quick start and consistency.
During the team's current three-game losing streak, the Lions have found themselves in huge holes at halftime. By the time they blinked, they were too far behind to stage a serious comeback.
"The most important thing is that we come out and have a good first quarter," Wedd said. "What we need is to feel good about ourselves."
As always, the main thing that will determine whether the Lions can hang around is if they can run the football. Senior Clifton Sims enters the game as the Lions' leading rusher - 407 yards on 83 carries - but tonight he won't be asked to shoulder the load alone. After playing with underclassmen behind him for the past two weeks, Sims will have his running mate back, as Jake Green returns to the Lions' lineup at 100 percent.
Green is second on the team in both carries (58) and yards (251) and adds a different dimension.
"Having Jake back will help a lot," Pinnick said. "We have an offense that we want to pound the ball and pound the ball. Saying it's not enough, but doing it does really send a message."