High School Sports

High School Sports

FSHS sports stacked

November 10, 2009


This has been a halcyon autumn at Free State High with the Firebirds boasting state-caliber teams in football, boys soccer and girls gymnastics.

Last weekend, the gymnasts tied for first place in the Kansas prep championships while the soccer team reached the Class 6A title game for the first time in school history. And, of course, the football team is in the playoffs.

Clearly, these achievements are rooted in the school’s senior class. In fact, some day the Class of 2010 may be remembered chiefly for its large contingent of quality athletes, particularly males.

Coach Jason Pendleton’s soccer team, for example, was composed of 11 seniors and seven underclassmen. At the same time, 21 seniors form the core of Bob Lisher’s football roster.

I’ll take that another step by mentioning that 11 of the 16 members of last spring’s Free State baseball team that shared the Sunflower League title with eventual state champion Lawrence High were juniors. Thus, regardless of whether all 11 return next spring, coach Mike Hill’s squad should be top-heavy with seniors.

More fuel was pumped into the school’s pride tank several weeks ago when the KSHSAA announced updated enrollment figures. Those numbers showed Free State was the smallest school in Class 6A.

How about that? Despite having the fewest students in the state’s largest classification, Free State has been competing, for the most part, on the highest level.

These are button-busting days, indeed, out on Overland Drive. But, of course, the glory days can’t go on forever. And probably won’t.

Have you stopped to wonder why Free State has the smallest enrollment in Class 6A? Well, it isn’t because of the senior class and it isn’t because of the Class of 2011, either.

It’s the sophomores. Free State has the fewest number of sophs walking the halls since the school opened in 1997 and — get this — two-thirds are female.

Now you know why Free State sophomore football scores haven’t appeared in the paper. The Firebirds didn’t have a sophomore team. Only 14 sophs went out for football.

Same thing in boys soccer. Usually, Free State fields varsity, junior varsity and C-teams in soccer. Not this year. There weren’t enough bodies for a C-team.

Given the current competitive gulf between football teams at Lawrence High and Free State, Lions’ fans should be glad to hear that coach Dirk Wedd had more than 40 sophomores report for football this fall and, with only 10 seniors on the Lions’ roster, many of those sophs played on the varsity.

I’m not saying that in the fall of 2011 Lawrence High will be the city football power and that Free State will be struggling, but it’s certainly possible based on the current numbers.

The Lions should have a solid core of seniors in ‘11 while the Firebirds’ senior football class will almost certainly be in single-digits. And it won’t be the first time, either.

Back in 2005 — just four years ago — Lawrence High had more than 20 seniors playing football and Free State had just nine. The Lions went 10-2 that fall. And the Firebirds? They were 4-6.


FirebirdFan 8 years, 5 months ago

I no longer continually surprised that the LJW Sports department has again found a way to turn a FSHS story around to compliment and boost LHS at the expense of FSHS.

Instead of simply complimenting the accomplishments of the Free State student-athletes and ending the story that, by its caption, should have been a celebration of Free State fall sports, you have to include a dig that they probably won't be repeated due to enrollment.

I appreciate the history of LHS and what it's meant to Lawrence, but stop being so blatantly biased at the expense of the Free State kids.

Clickker 8 years, 5 months ago

What? What went on Tuesday night?

Did Wedd say no more crap? Or did Wedd say "No more crap!"

And what was the reason?

erina1323 8 years, 5 months ago

sierraclub you failed to state that there were over 65 kids that came to the meeting........ That shows the kids want to play and want to play for coach Wedd. Get off his back and get over it! You people always have to complain about something. If you also only knew how many kids came up to him after the meeting telling him they are excited to play for him. Congrats to Free State on a great year!

erina1323 8 years, 5 months ago

Where do you get that his style is 1950's football. Maybe you should learn about the sport of football before you go and call a coaching style 1950's. Anyone that knows anything about football knows he is not using a 1950's type of play. GIVE UP..........

3up3down 8 years, 5 months ago

Feel sorry for those kids at SW that are having to go to LHS in a couple of years. Watched some of their 8th grade games this year and they ran a very effective spread offense. They mixed motion with run and pass. Defenses were kept guessing. Granted, this is only 8th grade, but still the idea that they were able to 'PASS' the ball well was a key. The pass at LHS has gone the way of the dodo, extinct.

mom_of_three 8 years, 5 months ago

You know, I read the title "Free State sports stacked" and didn't get the impression that it would necessarily be all about the accomplishments of the teams. And gee, if the writer thinks they are stacked, with seniors, then it makes sense to mention that they won't be stacked with seniors in the future. So stop the poor pity me story because you are FSHS, and get a grip.

22F2S 8 years, 5 months ago

"Clearly, these achievements are rooted in the school’s senior class. In fact, some day the Class of 2010 may be remembered chiefly for its large contingent of quality athletes, particularly males."

Why don't you check out the last two state championships for Free State....Girls Gymnastics and Girls Swimming.

Both of those teams had multiple state champions from the 2010 class. Where are the male state champions? How about not only giving free state some credit for an amazing year so far, but also the females.

Amy Bartle 8 years, 5 months ago

Please do a bigger story on the Free State girls gymnastics team. It's incredible that they beat out the other teams to take the state championship. Even though it was a tie, it is still an incredible feat. I was so disappointed that the paper did not provide up to the minute coverage of the state gymnastics meet. I expected the Journal World to cover it the same way they covered the Soccer semi-final and final game and the Football games (almost play-by-play format). I was very disappointed that I had to wait to find out that the Free State girls won. Please make it up to everyone by reporting a more indepth story of the season so we can find out more about the great group of girls and coaches who made it happen!

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