Archive for Sunday, August 23, 2009

Smith Center alumni take aim in college

August 23, 2009

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— High school athletes often hear all the stories from the good ol’ days, featuring Mom and Dad.

Thirty years from now, Hutchinson Community College freshmen Marshall McCall and Kris Lehmann will have plenty of stories. They’ll boast about their high school football days at Smith Center and being a part of four straight state championship teams. They’ll brag their program had the nation’s longest winning streak at 67, was mentioned on ESPN, featured on espn.com and on the front page of The New York Times.

A New York Times book — “Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen” has been published. Times sports writer Joe Drape spent the past school year in the small north-central Kansas community, focused on the football team.

“When you look back at your senior year, you say, ‘Yeah, I remember that,”’ said Lehmann, a linebacker for the Blue Dragons. “But we’ll have a book.”

Drape mentions the town’s importance often in the book. It’s a concept McCall and Lehmann agree with — that the people of Smith Center are just as responsible for the football team’s success as the players are.

But they aren’t in Smith Center and they aren’t Redmen anymore. They are like the dozens of other freshmen, wearing the plain white helmets and white or blue jersey.

McCall and Lehmann are no longer the stars of the city. They are just freshmen trying to make the team this season.

“We’re at the bottom of the totem pole, working our way up again,” McCall said. “We’re Blue Dragons now.”

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