Archive for Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lions’ drought a mystery

November 3, 2009


When it comes to high school football in Lawrence, there hasn’t been much middle ground this fall.

The city’s teams are either very good — Free State and Veritas Christian — or very …well, the seasons of Lawrence and Seabury Academy should probably be described in euphemism.

The Lions, plagued in part by injuries, finished with a 1-8 record — worst in 36 years for the tradition-rich program.

Meanwhile, Seabury didn’t even finish. The Seahawks were decimated by injuries, and school officials pulled the plug after just three games.

Lawrence and Free State compete in Class 6A, the largest division in Kansas, while Veritas and Seabury are at the other end of the spectrum in Eight-Man.

One of the great mysteries here in River City is how so much teenage football talent came to reside north of Bob Billings Parkway/15th Street, while so little lives south of the street that defines the Free State and Lawrence High districts.

Heck, Lawrence High even has about 200 more students than Free State, the smallest of the 32 schools in Class 6A. The Lions have the body count. The Firebirds have the football players.

It has been speculated that perhaps the success of Veritas Christian’s program has cut into Lawrence High’s pool of talent, but that theory doesn’t stand up.

Yes, the Eagles are good. They’re 8-1 going into tonight’s Kansas Christian Athletic Association playoff game against St. Mary’s Academy. On the flip side, coach Doug Bennett has only 13 players, and four are freshmen, meaning he has nine upperclassmen for the eight positions.

And even if all nine of those Eagles’ upperclassmen were on the Lawrence High roster, the Lions likely would have struggled anyway because the Veritas roster is glaringly lacking in size.

Bennett’s best offensive player is Ethan Scott, a running back who is averaging three touchdowns a game. But Scott, a junior, stands 5-foot-9 and weighs just 145 pounds. Scott is speedy and athletic, but it’s difficult to imagine him enjoying the same success playing in the Sunflower League.

There is one Veritas player who would have helped the Lions, however.

Hogan Randall, a 6-1, 175-pound senior, is far and away the Eagles’ leading tackler with an average of 16.4 stops per game. Randall would, I believe, thrive at the 6A level, too.

Three or four other Veritas players would have added to the Lions’ depth, and perhaps the most intriguing is quarterback Nick Bennett, the coach’s son.

Young Bennett has thrown 12 TD passes and, at 5-11 and 163 pounds, is about the same size as Chris Gaston, the Lions’ quarterback. Would Bennett have helped the Lions? Who knows? But he certainly couldn’t have hurt.

Nevertheless, of the three Veritas players I mentioned, only Randall’s family resides within the Lawrence High boundary. Scott, the Eagles’ point-making machine, commutes from the Eudora school district, while the Bennetts live in the Perry-Lecompton area.

Fact is, Veritas has robbed fewer than a handful of players from the Lions. So the mystery of Lawrence High’s football player drought remains just that.


cato_the_elder 8 years, 7 months ago

Chuck, if you want to answer your own question, why doesn't the J-W investigate how many football players playing north of 15th Street, including impact players, live south of 15th Street? Why doesn't the J-W investigate how USD 497 has turned a blind eye to this, how long it's been going on, and why? Why doesn't the J-W investigate the remarkably creative ways that certain parents who live south of 15th have invented in order for their children, and not just those who participate in sports, to attend what is still viewed as the "new" school? Why hasn't the J-W commented on the obvious football recruiting connotations associated with the "concession/rest room facility" north of 15th that has an entire second floor dedicated to football offices overlooking the football field, just as KU has recently built? Is the J-W at all concerned with the patent disparity that is going to exist between the two schools' football facilities as the result of the School Board's remarkable agreement to accept a $600,000 gift from private donors that benefits only one school in this community? These questions have been asked by many people in Lawrence. The real question is whether anyone associated with USD 497 cares enough to do anything about it.

Clickker 8 years, 7 months ago

Its not against the law to circumvent the local rules. KSHSAA could care less. Not sure our local guys do either.

For about $450/month, you can rent an apt north of 15th and claim it as your residence. For some, $5k/yr is pretty cheap

countrygirl 8 years, 7 months ago

Ask the tough questions, like why don't the athletes want to play at LHS?

Maxandwillie 8 years, 7 months ago

Kids have been participating at the wrong school in this district for many years. DJ Watkins lived in the Free State district but went to LHS so he could play bb. so what. The lhs pitcher from lee's summit lived in the basement with a well known LHS supporter last spring so he could play baseball at LHS while his dad's apartment was north of 15th st. so what. there is constant recruiting going on all over the place and to stand up and complain about it when you feel that it hurts one school is hypocritical.

If its wrong to do it, then its wrong every time and not just when you are upset that the other team in town is struggling.

I have a simple reason one team is better than the other. its called players. Two years from now when Free State has very little talent and LHS has better players it wont be an issue.

dougmarshall 8 years, 7 months ago

Sure, the short term hasn't been effective yet, but what about the future? Do you think Topeka High, West, Seaman might be better without Hayden High? I think so. The private schools will continue to take a handful of players from both schools in Lawrence. As far as eight man goes, the players at that level would be the best players at any level. The difference is plain numbers, not talent. Go watch an 8 man playoff game, I'd bet you see a kid who could help any team in the Sunflower League.

ReneLang 8 years, 7 months ago

I can't believe nobody has mentioned coaching. The LHS coaching is something to be desired

formerlhsplayer 8 years, 7 months ago

you are my boy heartofalion56 i know you remember we had chem together haha and we are fat haha

dirtyboss01 8 years, 7 months ago

LHS has all the talent in the world. for christ sakes the sophmore team only had one loss on the season. Obviously the coaching at the varsity level needs to be examined.....big time. Maybe Wedd should take some notes from the sophmore coach Jack Hood.

Clickker 8 years, 7 months ago

Revisionist history would say that Freeman was a great guy to play for, and playing for Gibson sucked. In reality, kids hated playing for Freeman, and loved playing for Gibson. Unfortunately, on was a winner, and one didnt win. So I am not buying that Wedd is such a mean guy that no one wants to play for him. Game planning, and in-game strategies maybe he is not so good...but getting yelled at? Give me a break.

blondejuan 8 years, 7 months ago

Okay! Okay! As a freestate parent I apologize that someone wanted and could afford to donate a nice addition to our football field. I am also sorry that of all the people that have graduated from LHS- starting in 1857 - and have become successful, that none of them want to step up and donate something wonderful to LHS. So... why don't all the LHS people quit whinning at freestate and whine at all your wonderful, tradition following graduates.

exlion 8 years, 7 months ago have no idea how little hood knows about football he drinks the wedd kool-aid like no other.....he was basically demoted this year as he can't control his anger

how to win at LHS lose reed(putting in time) move green to offense lose fred roll as the summer conditioning guy(if you think dirk has foul language...listen to this guy) find a new DC who understands that you play man coverage in the receiver's face and you put 225 lb kids in d-line positions

lhsmom 8 years, 7 months ago

blondejuan... Your kidding me right?? If not, your "dumb blonde" is showing. Really??

formerlhsplayer 8 years, 7 months ago

seriously cuz i didn't read about anyone complaining about the LHS facilities

jayhawker666 8 years, 7 months ago

everyone is complaining about LHS football so lets take a moment to remember last year's free state basketball team

hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha 1-21 nice.

justcause 8 years, 7 months ago

Hey Woodling, it is not a mystery. Ask anyone inside the LHS program, players and parents, current and past, it is time for a coaching change. Wedd has lost his effectiveness, not only on the field but also to motivate players to play football in the first place. He is a great guy but IT IS TIME!!! Please give the upcoming kids a chance!

justcause 8 years, 7 months ago

By the way, blondejuan, your donor is an LHS grad!

formerlhsplayer 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree with your last post justcause, but your one about coach Wedd's coaching not being affective is total bull. In years past he's been blessed with kids that have talent and want to play football. Here lately he's only had very few kids with talent and very few kids that want to play football. This year he had the same thing, but he had a ton of injuries. I was part of the class of '09 and we had a chance to be really great, but some of our team wasn't ready to come out and play or practice yesterday. So give Wedd some players with talent and want to play football and I'll bet you anything he could take them back to state.

justcause 8 years, 7 months ago

formerlhsplayer why do you think he doesnt have any players? Why arent they wanting to play? It isn't because there is none at LHS. I can name many who arent playing because of him, including two quarterbacks who would have been seniors this year who both had talent. I know of kids going to FS, Eudora and Baldwin to avoid him. You played for him you know he plays favorites, is inconsistent with rules and if he doesnt like you, you are through! Seriously, I like the man but he is done!

Clickker 8 years, 7 months ago

Not really sure what the real picture is. I dont really have a dog in the hunt, but it seems that there are a couple of things at play. Like a previous poster said about the FS BB team..they were young last year, and should be much improved this year. It is not a reflection of thier program any more than this FB season appears to not be a reflection of the LHS program. Now, as far as Wedd not being able to get guys our for football, we seem to have two distinctively different views...One from current players, and one from what appear to be parents. The truth is, if a kid doesnt want to play, he wont play. The same goes for FS. If you take two, maybe three kids off of that team this year...they are mediocre at best. Having gone to some LHS games, my opinion is that they dont run the type of offense that can maximize thier talents..which appear to be limited in SOME areas. Without distict examples however, it is really hard to make a judgement on Wedds coaching style based upon anonymous posters, many of which have some type of an agenda.

kujayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

When they split the high schools, they said it wasn't about athletics. So why make it about athletics now? These kids should be able to play for whatever high school they choose. Besides, would you want your kids playing for Wedd...and this is coming from a LHS supporter.

kujayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

By the way Clickker, not everybody hated playing for Freeman. Did you have to be thick skinned and mentally tough to play for him? Absolutely. But I learned a lot of life lessons from that man that I still use today.

Clickker 8 years, 7 months ago

"......not everybody hated playing for Freeman"


Certianly looking back, I loved playing for the time, I hated it. It was tough. But he wasnt a total harda$$. Just saying kids things look better when you look back on things. Same with Duver and Wedd Sr.

3up3down 8 years, 7 months ago

kujayhawker, you are right on the money. Olathe has open campus enrollment. Depending on your choice of study, you can attend any of the 4 high schools you want to. You have to know that the coaches are checking the junior highs closely and recruiting kids. North is the powerhouse again. Nice recruiting. I think Peter Flood is the head coach. He was the offensive coordinator for Littrell at Olathe South when they had that spread offense that caused the Sunflower league all sorts of problems back in the late 90's. Hayden does the same thing in Topeka. No wonder they are always in the hunt for the 4A crown every year.

that1guy 8 years, 7 months ago

Wedd's offense is stupid, its an unbalanced line with two TE's plus that motion guy, something like a slot. which menas that he almost the whole offense in one area, which also means he has more guys to block. why doesnt he just try and spread people out and get them out of the box

shubes69 8 years, 6 months ago

First of all, this is the most pointless article I've ever read. He says, maybe LHS sucks because everyone is going to a different school, then he says no that can't be it. Obviously he is criticizing the coaching but lacks the courage to say so.

Second of all, people don't want to play because first and foremost, they are LAZY. 2) Obviously the lack of success turns people away from any program.

Wait until next year, you will see a football team with really good numbers.

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