The last time Mitch Werts, Eric Franz and Matt Frantz were on the same football field together, they were playing for a state championship in Topeka.
Tonight, when the three former Free State High players get together one more time for this year’s Metro All-Star Football Challenge at Blue Springs South High in Missouri, they’ll be playing for Sunflower State pride.
The three former Free State starters, who were instrumental in guiding the Firebirds to the best season in school history last year, join a host of other local and area players who will suit up for team Kansas tonight in the battle with a similar all-star squad from Missouri.
Chebon Dawes will represent Lawrence High in tonight’s game. He’ll be joined by area standouts Shane Gimzo and Joel Gantz of Perry-Lecompton High, Nicholas Woods of Mill Valley High, and Mike Sprowl of De Soto High.
Although the game, on its surface, is little more than a showcase and, perhaps even a swan song for some players, FSHS coach Bob Lisher says it means a lot more than most people think. Although he won’t be coaching in this year’s game, Lisher has been on the sidelines for the annual showdown three times in the past.
“It’s Missouri vs. Kansas, and it’s a big-time game,” Lisher said. “The kids get after it pretty good, and it’s a fun game to watch.”
Team Kansas enters on a two-game winning streak.
The boys in blue defeated their crimson counterparts, 20-9, in last year’s game.
City products Ryder Werts, Scott Williams, Jared Vinoverski and Tyler Hunt all contributed to last year’s victory.
In 2007, Kansas knocked off Missouri, 6-3, in a game that featured former LHS standouts Nathan Padia and Tony Williams and fellow Firebird standouts Kyle Weinmaster and Brian Murphy.
The Kansas victory in 2007 snapped a streak of four losses in a row to the Show-Me State.
The Metro All-Star Football Challenge was established by the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association in 1991. Kansas takes a 10-6 overall lead into tonight’s matchup, which will kick off at 7.